RCMP say they are going ahead with plan
Officials maintain RCMP should halt relocation efforts of Truro OCC until they have review’s findings
TRURO, N. S. – Efforts to relocate the RCMP Operational Communications Centre (OCC) from Truro to Dartmouth are continuing, despite a commitment by the force to conduct an independent review of that decision.
The RCMP plans to move the centre to its divisional headquarters in Dartmouth by early 2021. However, officials agreed to conduct an independent review after Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale asked them to look into safety concerns raised by Cumberland- Colchester MP Bill Casey about both of the province’s emergency communication centres operating out of the same building.
“In the meantime, the work is still continuing on the relocation of the OCC,” said public information officer Cpl. Lisa Croteau.
Casey said that is not how he believes the process should unfold.
“My understanding of the direction for the RCMP is that they are to call a request for proposals for an independent body to do a risk assessment on this proposal to see if it is safe,” he said. “I believe it should include the suspension of the process.”
Croteau would not comment further on that independent examination process other than to say it “… will be conducted in accordance with Treasury Board policies. More details will be available in due course.”
Lenore Zann, MLA for TruroBible Hill-millbrook-salmon River, believes the relocation efforts should be suspended immediately, pending results of the independent review.
Having gone over the 2017 Report on Feasibility Study of RCMP H Division Operational Communication Center, Zann maintains “it has several substantial errors in the data which cause me great concern as the conclusion appears to be based on incorrect information.
“This is becoming a very prominent issue in the province because it affects the safety of all Nova Scotians.”
Another issue Casey has raised, regards information he has that indicates the RCMP has paid rent on empty space at the Dartmouth headquarters at a rate of $13,675 per month for six years, for a total to date of $984,600.
And he said information contained in a redacted copy of the 2017 Operational Communication Centre Feasibility Study outlines several new RCMP proposals, which include continuing to pay rent on the vacant space for 10 more years, at a further projected cost of $1,641,000, for a combined total of $2,625,600.
Croteau said the RCMP plans to use at least a portion of the empty space to house the relocation of the OCC from Truro.
But she said the RCMP is not paying rent for the space as Casey implies.
“I just know we are not at this time I don’t know if we have in the past,” she said.
Casey said the RCMP are not being completely honest with that information.
“They don’t have a rental agreement they have what they call an occupancy instrument,” he said. “But the bottom line is, it’s the most expensive real estate in Halifax. It’s top quality office space and it’s empty. And it’s not free.”
Casey said the RCMP itself has indicated the space in the taxpayer-funded building has a rental value of $50.80 per sq. ft. and having it sit empty is not a conscientious decision.
“It just doesn’t make sense. Nothing about it makes sense,” he said. “I challenge them to come discuss it with me and debate my numbers. I’m not afraid of facing them and putting my numbers on the table if they will put their numbers on the table.”