Plans will soon be ready to give the Kamloops RCMP headquarters downtown a facelift.
On Tuesday, city council voted to approve spending nearly $5 million on detailed design plans for an expansion of the 32-year-old building at Battle Street and Sixth Avenue that will double the existing space at an estimated $50 million to $80 million in construction costs.
Council unanimously approved spending $4.75 million on the plans, which according to staff will be complete by early 2023, at which point the new city council — to be elected on Oct. 15 of this year — will deal with the details of the construction project.
The building is currently 115 per cent over capacity with its current 190 occupants, having been built in 1990 to accommodate 85 personnel at a time when Kamloops had a population of 67,000 population. Today, about 100,000 people call the city home.
To address current issues with space in the building and its configuration, staff presented a business case to council in 2020 for the renovation and expansion of the detachment, but that was delayed due to the pandemic until late 2021.
The current cost estimate from staff for the project ranges from $50 to $80 million, including both design and construction costs.
Coun. Arjun Singh questioned what the project cost would do to the city’s debt load moving forward, given that the city still has a proposed downtown arts centre “still on the books.”
Planning and procurement manager David Hallinan said the municipality has $40 million in debt in 2022, but by the 2026-2027 fiscal year, that will drop to about $25 million.
“We’re starting to see a good return coming back into the amount of debt we’re carrying,” Hallinan said, noting the city has the ability to carry up to $500 million in debt.
There are several needed upgrades at the detachment, according to the staff report, including changes to the public entrance, reception area and staff areas, improving the building envelope to increase energy efficiency, installing sprinklers for fire protection and adding emergency backup power to all building systems, according to a council report.
The proposed expansion would add approximately 40,000 square feet to the building and serve the needs of the city and the RCMP for approximately the next 15 years, according to staff.
Capital projects manager Darren Crudwell told council that 15-year estimate was determined via growth in Kamloops, current square footage and number of officers being requested by the Kamloops RCMP.
The RCMP detachment on Battle Street was built to about 35,000 square feet 32 years ago to accommodate traffic, rural and investigations departments, as well as general daily duty operations, a staff report stated. The building was expected to support policing operations and growth for a decade after it was built.
In 2002, the total occupancy in the detachment was 158 employees. In the fall of 2019, that had increased to 194 employees.
Since 1990, there have been a number of renovations intended to help address the increased occupancy at the detachment, as well as alterations to the building because of the many changes related to the regulatory requirements of the policing service.
These physical changes have impacted the building’s configuration, which has resulted in a number of operational challenges and several safety concerns, according to the council report.
Given the piecemeal nature of past renovations, there is a significant need to improve the current booking entry, main entry and forensic/evidence rooms, the report stated. There’s also a need to expand further and to assess increasing office spaces, locker rooms on the second floor and the gymnasium in the basement. If these improvements are implemented, it will extend the facility’s life span and allow for future growth, according to the report.
The report also states that while constructing a new facility is a viable option, the current Battle Street location is able to accommodate an expansion, is readily available and provides a viable, affordable solution.