Edmonton Journal

Police again mulling new office

City set to discuss report Monday on overcrowdi­ng in headquarte­rs

- GORDON KENT gkent@edmontonjo­urnal. com

Edmonton police want to build a new administra­tion centre to take the pressure off their crowded downtown headquarte­rs.

As staff grows and technology changes, space has become tight in the 33-year-old structure, according to a city report.

For example, 19 members of the infometric­s division work in an office designed for nine.

“Many office areas within police headquarte­rs are overcrowde­d by two to three times the number of staff (that) space standards recommend.”

The report doesn’t indicate how much the new building would cost or how big it would be.

Workers in such areas as finance, law, communicat­ions and research would move out, and specialize­d units now based in offices around Edmonton would move in to what would remain the downtown division station.

Police have been looking at expanding or replacing their five-storey headquarte­rs since 1995.

In 2006, they had a $61-million plan for new offices and a parkade on land used for parking on the north side of the building.

The city’s 2015-18 capital budget deferred a proposal for a structure that would house up to 800 people.

It was intended to go beside the northwest police campus set to open in 2018 near 127th Street and Anthony Henday Drive. That site might not be available anymore because the department expects to develop a larger-than-planned indoor gun range.

They looked at moving into the city-leased office tower going up in the arena district, but there isn’t enough room.

The latest report will be discussed Monday by city council’s community services committee.

Police wouldn’t comment before the meeting, but the report recommends they prepare a business case for constructi­ng an administra­tion building in the 2019-22 capital budget.

The new facility might not open for 10 years, so in the meantime officers want to rent office space outside the downtown core where leases are cheaper and parking is better.

“From my point of view, I’m undecided how this should play out,” Coun. Michael Oshry, a police commission member, said Friday.

“At this point, I would think that renting would be a better option … The police are changing and growing. With this economy, it might be more prudent to rent.”

The department plans to hire 410 extra staff over the next three years to run new programs, keep up with Edmonton growth and operate the northwest campus.

Coun. Scott McKeen, also a police commission member, said people must decide whether it’s vital to have the chief and senior staff in the city core.

“The symbolism of having police headquarte­rs downtown, while I think it’s important, may be a lesser concern for the balance of city council if the costs are a lot higher,” he said.

“We have to be pragmatic. The police budget has a very serious impact on the city budget.”

 ?? JANNA VANDORP/EDMONTON JOURNAL ?? Edmonton police have been looking at expanding or replacing their downtown headquarte­rs since 1995.
JANNA VANDORP/EDMONTON JOURNAL Edmonton police have been looking at expanding or replacing their downtown headquarte­rs since 1995.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada