Police propose $244M facilities plan

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The Ottawa Police Service is proposing to construct a new facility in south Nepean within seven years.

The building would be placed on a city-owned property at Prince of Wales Drive and Woodroffe Avenue, just south of Carleton Lodge seniors’ residence.

The force, however, has some ideas about how it should look. It will likely be at least 150,000 square feet, with multiple floors to better separate departments. The facility could include space for other emergency services as the police aim for more cost savings and synergies.

Once the building is ready, the police would then tear down their aging, 58,000-square-foot facility at Greenbank Road. Built in the 1970s, the police say the cost of rehabilitation would be prohibitively expensive when compared with putting up a newer building.

“Greenbank Station is at the end of its useful life,” said Ian Fisher, the director of facilities at the Ottawa Police Service.

“We recommended it will be demolished. We will keep that piece of land and we will build a new building, but it will be more of an administrative structure.”

The south Nepean facility is just one portion of an ambitious multi-million plan presented to the city’s police services board this week concerning upgrading or adding facilities to the Ottawa Police Service.

While the initial inflation-adjusted cost of the plan is $244 million, the police says it can slash that by 25 per cent to $183.3 million through what it calls an “OPS workplace innovation project.” This would include flexible work spaces, mobile workers and adaptive structures for vehicle storage such as inflatable domes.

The bulk of the budget, $122.4 million, will come from debentures. The city is in the midst of building a $2.1-billion light rail project and is hesitant to take on more debt, making it a challenge to convince councillors to take on more debt, Mr. Fisher acknowledged.

“The mayor has been very conscious of the expenditures, and has been adamant about tax increases and having it under control,” he said.

The balance will come from other initiatives. The police (which is only hiring officers on a replacement basis until 2015) is undertaking an internal review to identify budgetary allocations that could be reduced and added to the facilities budget.

The police aim for an annual increase of $300,000 in “efficiency savings” for the next 15 years, with $100,000 of that going to the new facility’s operating costs and $200,000 to increase contributions to a facilities strategic reserve fund.

Additionally, the city’s police board has been taking the money gained from uploading court security costs from the province - about $600,000 annually - and contributing it to the fund.

Other highlights from the plan include:

- Giving the building on Leitrim Drive back to the city, as the south Nepean facility will remove the need for its use;

- Terminating two leased spaces in 2024 on Fairmont Avenue and Queensview Drive and moving the functions there to Greenbank Road. The police service is attempting to remove itself from private-sector leases such as the ones at these facilities, Mr. Fisher said.

- Expanding the Algonquin College facility for training requirements;

- Putting in a new central division patrol facility somewhere outside the downtown core;

- Focusing the building at 474 Elgin St. on criminal investigative services;

- Leasing additional space in the courthouse area (161 Elgin St.) for court functions;

- Expanding the space the police lease at a multi-use facility at 2799 Swansea Cres., which the currently houses an evidence control warehouse and fleet operations. This could entail leasing more space in the existing building, or doing some construction to add more square footage.