Calgary's outdated arrest processing unit will soon be replaced.

City council has approved a new site for the Calgary Police Service's new facility — on the province's justice campus in the city's far northwest corner.

The area is already home to a remand centre, a young offenders' facility, as well as a provincial correctional centre. 

The province is leasing the land to CPS but the city will pay for the new facility.

The existing unit is located in a building across from the old city hall on Seventh Avenue, which is more than 50 years old.

It was also damaged in the 2013 flood.

Remote location worries councillor

Calgary police have said for years that the current downtown arrest processing unit is overdue for replacement.

Former police chief Rick Hanson once joked that the current building is like something out of the Dark Ages with bars on its cells and many blind corners.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said that Spy Hill is a good location for the new facility.

"It was determined that it actually makes more sense to have that facility closer to the institution at Spy Hill rather than in this downtown location," said Nenshi.

People are released from custody at the arrest processing unit at all hours of the day and night, which has Coun. Joe Magliocca concerned about the remote location of the new APU, given that there is no transit service nearby or even sidewalks,

Janice Weitendorf with the Calgary Police Service told city council that CPS is looking at establishing a transportation service to and from its district offices. However, no further details are available at this time.

"We cannot release somebody at two in the morning in the middle of January and have them try to find their way home," said Weitendorf. "There is no plan right now to increase the [transit] service there, so we do have an obligation to protect these people."

CPS planning move by 2020

Construction on the new facility will start by the end of this year. CPS plans to move into the Spy Hill location in late 2019 or early 2020.

Leaving the downtown unit means a key location will be freed up for possible redevelopment.

Nenshi said he'll be talking with officials at the neighbouring Bow Valley College and also with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation.

For now, he's advocating for a private development, which will mean new property tax revenues coming in for the city.