Winnipeg council approves $135M police HQ

Winnipeg's police force is moving to a bigger building downtown, after council voted to approve the purchase of the Canada Post sorting plant at 266 Graham Ave. so it can be coverted into the new police headquarters.

Winnipeg's police force is moving to a bigger building downtown.

Winnipeg city council voted to approve the purchase of the Canada Post sorting plant at 266 Graham Ave. so it can be coverted into the new police headquarters.

The deal will cost the city $29.25 million to buy the building and another $105 million to redevelop it to meet the needs of the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).

The plan has been in the works since March, when the city entered into formal negotiations with Canada Post and made a conditional offer to buy the plant. Last week, the mayor's cabinet, known as the executive policy committee, gave its support to the multimillion-dollar plan.

Police Chief Keith McCaskill has been saying since last year that the current WPS location no longer suits the service's needs. The Public Safety Building at 151 Princess St. is too small and needs extensive repairs. The limestone-clad exterior of the building is crumbling.

The public sidewalks around the Princess Street building have been covered for months with the type of wood shelter seen at construction sites to protect people from any falling pieces of facade.

The Graham Avenue location will allow police to consolidate its various departments, which are scattered around the city in various buildings, under a single roof.

The new site also provides a greater presence downtown, is more accessible to the nearby Law Courts complex and there is still room for future expansion inside the building.

"I am confident that redeveloping the Canada Post location to consolidate our core WPS services under one roof allows us to continue providing the best tools and resources for our officers in the Winnipeg Police Service to ensure Winnipeggers receive more reliable and more efficient service," Mayor Sam Katz said Wednesday.

Renovations to the Graham Avenue space are not expected to be completed until mid-2013. Once the move is complete, the Public Safety Building will be designated as surplus municipal property.