Inside look at the new over-budget, delayed Winnipeg police HQ
New police HQ is almost 2 years delayed, $75 million over budget
The police service was supposed to move from the crumbling Public Safety Building on Princess Street in January 2014, but many delays pushed that back. The project is also $75 million over budget.
Reporters were given a tour of parts of the building Monday in advance of the first wave of new occupants; the quartermaster unit will be the first group to start hauling their gear into the building.
The $214-million headquarters has a brand new communication centre that will include the 911 call operators, fitness facilities for officers that feature work-out equipment and basketball courts and a central processing unit for suspects and witnesses.
New amalgamated building more efficient
The Winnipeg Police Service believes the expanded facilities to process and interview prisoners will speed up turnaround times and get officers back on patrol.
It's hard to tell the new headquarters was once a mail-sorting facility. There are high ceilings, the colours are vibrant and there is light coming in from many windows.
"Lots of light! It's just a brighter atmosphere and just a much nicer work environment than what we are used to, for sure," said Michalyshen.
The remodeled building also houses a lobby for the public to access police services and the Police Museum, featuring equipment, uniforms and memorabilia from decades of policing Winnipeg streets.
The police believe there are a number of efficiencies they will get from the new HQ.
"We are taking, I believe, nine buildings from outside of the downtown area, taking our staff from those buildings and bringing them down here. So just the efficiencies of not having to drive to the districts, to the other areas," Supt. Bruce Ormiston said.
The police service also lauds the close proximity of the Law Courts building and the Remand Centre as possible time-savers.
New building dwarfs old facility
Ormiston says the advantages of the new HQ over the old Public Saftey Building are numerous.
"We are leaving a building that was originally built in 1966, coming to a building that was, although built prior to '66, really new for us. The facilities here are wonderful, good for our employees and we are excited to be downtown and part of the community here." said Ormiston.
Police want to leave controversy behind
Ormiston admitted it was a relief to start moving past some of the controversy and delays in taking over the building.
Ormiston wouldn't comment on an ongoing RCMP investigation into the construction of the building and a very public raid on the offices of Caspian Construction, the general contractor that did most of the renovations. Ormiston said he didn't believe it would taint the move-in or occupancy of the new facility.
The renovations are more than $75 million over original estimates. Police belive they are now on budget for the rest of the final costs associated with construction, equipment and moving costs. A decision on exterior security features which may included concrete barriers or bollards has not been made yet.