New Brunswick

Could another police force use planned Moncton RCMP station? It depends, designer says

A new $57.2 million police station in Moncton could accommodate a provincial police force, but would likely be too small over the long run for a new municipal force. 

Building's size an issue amid discussions of future of RCMP in province

A rendering of the Codiac Regional RCMP station planned for Albert Street in Moncton. (Submitted by City of Moncton)

A new $57.2 million police station in Moncton could accommodate a provincial police force, but would likely be too small over the long run for a new municipal force, a report suggests.

That's the conclusion of a report presented to Moncton councillors this month by RPL Architects, which the city hired to design the station for the Codiac Regional RCMP. It says further study would be required to verify its overall conclusions. 

The question of whether the building designed to meet Mountie standards could be used by another force has come up amid increased discussion about the future of the RCMP in the region and across the province.

"If we build a building only for the RCMP and then the feds decide to pull out, we are stuck in that building?" Coun. Bryan Butler said during a Moncton council meeting last week. "What do we do then? We really have then to spend more money."

The idea of reviewing policing locally and provincially has repeatedly surfaced in recent weeks.

A motion passed at the Union of Municipalities of New Brunswick annual meeting this month calls on the province to study policing options in light of rising RCMP costs. 

Dieppe's mayor has suggested, though it hasn't been confirmed as accurate, that the RCMP will no longer offer provincial and municipal policing services within six years. 

During a committee meeting Monday, Riverview councillors amended the town's strategic plan to include a line about working with Moncton and Dieppe to review local policing options. 

Riverview Coun. Heath Johnson said there's been a lot of discussion about who will provide policing services in the future. He said the review could ultimately suggest staying with Codiac RCMP.

On Monday, Moncton councillors will debate a motion by councillors Daniel Bourgeois and Paul Richard calling for the city to halt work on the new RCMP station — though construction hasn't started yet — until there's clarity on which force will use the building.

The motion was introduced last week but procedurally couldn't be debated and voted on until the Nov. 1 meeting.

A rendering of the lobby of the proposed Codiac Regional RCMP station. (City of Moncton/Submitted)

The motion calls for the city to hire an expert on policing services in 2022 to re-examine whether the city should retain the Mounties.

"How can you make a decision on [spending] $57 million-plus without having that in your plan, knowing how many members you're going to need to have in this building?" Richard said in an interview. 

The answer to whether another force could use the building depends on the policing model.

John Pepper with RPL Architects told councillors the building was designed to accommodate up to 376 sworn RCMP officers and civilian staff over a 25-year span. 

A 15-page by RPL Architects report concludes a new regional force, covering Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, could use the building as designed in the short term, but "it would not meet long-term needs, potentially requiring expansion in the future."

The RCMP rely on specialized units like forensics located elsewhere in Moncton and support services at J Division headquarters in Fredericton. Those wouldn't be located in the new building, so space for them wasn't included in the design. 

But a new regional or municipal police force headquartered in the planned building would require those units and services.

Moncton has already purchased and prepared land on Albert Street — costs included in the $57.2 million estimate — for a police station to replace an older building on Main Street. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

The report says the building could be expanded westward into a surface parking lot, though that would likely require building a costly parking garage to replace lost parking spaces.

The report's conclusion differs if it's a provincial police model like the Ontario Provincial Police.

Under such a model, the current design is considered "adequate."

Under a provincial model, services like forensics and a tactical team, as with the RCMP, could be shared over a wider area and wouldn't necessarily be located in the Moncton station, the report says.

Pepper was hesitant to say how much it could cost to change the building to switch from RCMP to another police force's standards. He said many building components such as common areas and interview rooms would remain suitable.