Sudbury police board postpones proposed building improvements

Council approved the police board's request to defer their $18.8 million building renovation projects until 2018 on Wednesday.

Police board and city say more time needed to look at 'every possible option'

Police facility improvement plans are delayed one more year until 2018. (Samantha Samson/CBC)

Members of the Greater Sudbury Police Service will have to wait at least one more year for improvements to their facilities.

During their budget meeting on Wednesday, Sudbury city councillors approved the police board's request to defer their $18.8 million building renovation projects until 2018.

The deferral will give the police service and the city more time to explore more options for renovating existing facilities or beginning new construction.

"Our budget stays as is," Chief Paul Pedersen said at a police board meeting, held earlier in the day Wednesday. "However, we're not spending it until we come to a resolution with the city."

Pedersen said the time needed to look into more options is necessary, but repetitive.

"Over 10 years, we've looked at just about everything," he said. "But certainly we're getting a feeling from council that they want to make sure they're doing their due diligence, that we've looked at every possible option before we put money into this place."

Police improvise to fit current facilities

The improvement plan will see renovations and expansion to the police headquarters in Sudbury and the Lionel E. Lalonde Centre in Azilda. Changes would include fixing mould problems, and issues related to over-crowding and space.

One issue that affects the public directly is the entrance to police headquarters. Accused persons, victims and citizens all enter the building in the same area.

"We've improvised on how we do the security, so we won't put a child in the same elevator as an offender," Pedersen said.

"It's the challenge that you can't predict behaviour of human beings of any given time. It would be much easier and much safer if the public areas were outside of the secure areas."

Focus on essential services first: councillor

Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini said he wants to use the extra year to focus on essential services, like police, in Greater Sudbury. He said he's not opposed to other types of projects, such as the proposed Synergy Centre or Places Des Arts, but wants to deal with what the city has first.

"Yes, it's nice to have those [other projects], and I'm not for or against them either way, but I am for getting our essential services looked after before we do anything else," he said.
Ward 2 Sudbury city councillor Michael Vagnini. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Chief Pedersen said his staff are the ones who have to deal with the wait, and there are mixed feelings about it.

"This has been a journey that's lasted at least 10 years," Pedersen said. "Our staff is getting a little tired of waiting, but we're professionals, we're understanding and we're very aware of the fact that the cost of public services is first and foremost in our community."

The decision to delay the planned renovations won't affect the 2017 municipal budget, which was approved Wednesday.