Glace Bay to get new police building
Most members of council ultimately voted in favour of the municipal capital budget that included allocating funds for a new police station in east division, but not every member of Cape Breton Regional council was supportive of the new building.
Prior to Thursday’s budget session, during a meeting of the board of police commissioners,
Chief Peter McIsaac of the Cape Breton Regional
Police Service outlined his service’s proposed budget, including his case for a new station to be constructed somewhere in downtown Glace Bay.
The estimated total cost of the project is $ 2.5 million. The 2017- 18 capital budget approved by council includes a $ 625,000 allocation for plans, land purchase and start for the new police east division building.
East division currently uses a portion of a former Devco building that dates back to the early 1970s that is expensive to operate and was never intended to be used for policing services, McIsaac said.
McIsaac noted that central division recently underwent extensive renovations and north division has also relocated to the historic former town hall in Sydney Mines, which underwent about $ 1 million in renovations.
The renovations at central division gave officers a modern workspace, McIsaac said, and provided for better workflow and delivery of police services, and made it more user-friendly for citizens needing to access those services.
“Our facilities are in better shape than ever before, except for east division,” McIsaac said.
The current building is also used by some CBRM departments and would be maintained by the municipality even if police moved out. A number of sites for a new station are being evaluated but a location hasn’t been finalized yet.
When the project came up as councillors discussed the proposed municipal capital budget, Dist. 11 Coun. Kendra Coombes questioned McIsaac’s assertion that having a new police building in downtown Glace Bay would have an impact on crime rates.
“Wouldn’t it be more feasible to take some of this money and put it into crime prevention programs?” Coombes asked, making reference to programs such as Community Cares and the Whitney Pier Youth Club.
McIsaac said expectations of police services have changed over the years, and the current east division building is not up to modern policing standards.
“Budgets are all about priorities,” Dist. 6 Coun. Ray Paruch said. “I look at this, this is not a priority for me, I will not be supporting this as part of the capital budget.”
Coombes introduced a motion to remove from the budget the $625,000 allocation for the new police east division building, which did not pass.
“I kind of find it hard to sign off on a project when we don’t have a specific place and area and plan there,” she said.
Director of engineering and public works Wayne MacDonald noted the CBRM wouldn’t buy land to locate the station prior to the project being approved by council.
“It’s one of those things, pay now or pay later,” said Deputy Mayor Eldon MacDonald, suggesting if the CBRM waited the cost of the project would only rise.