Former North Cowichan mayor says savings on new $47M RCMP detachment could be model

CHEK

A former mayor of North Cowichan says the cost savings achieved on the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment could be a model for other municipal building projects.

The new headquarters came in with a $47.4 million price tag, but Al Siebring estimates it would’ve been a million dollars-plus more had it not been for a partnership with another municipality.

Siebring says the new detachment in North Cowichan looks nearly identical to Fort Saint John’s, which opened nine months ago.

That’s by design. Early in the planning, Siebring asked staff who else was building a detachment for a similar-sized staff of about 100.

“We found Fort Saint John was building a detachment and they had already done some of their design work and stuff, and we called them and said, ‘What did you pay for your architect and design work? We’ll pay you half.’ That’s kind of how it ended up.”

Siebring says there were savings in design work and acquisition costs as they bundled their purchasing power as they sourced identical construction materials.

He suggests this could be a model for other municipal projects, such as pools.

“We’re not building McDonalds’., I get that, but at the same time there are some principles from that kind of approach to infrastructure that we can use in the public sector and save some money,” said Siebring.

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On Saturday, CHEK News toured the new building, including its high security cell block, to interview rooms, to the forensic identification services unit.

Siebring, who now lives in Alberta, came for Friday’s grand opening after working on the project for 15 years as a former councillor and mayor. He says he’s thrilled it’s done.

“Just looking at it. It’s like, wow. When you compare it to this, to the little detachment building that sits on essentially wetlands on Somenos Marsh, on the west end of it, it’s unbelievable the difference.”

Nearly 110 dignitaries, officers and guests officially opened the 50,000-square-foot detachment Friday. It’s five times the size of their former one. North Cowichan’s current mayor says the building will help the municipality reach its climate action goals.

“This new RCMP building will be net-zero ready and features many green building design elements, such as daylight sensors to reduce electrical needs. The building also uses solar PV panels and solar shades to reduce the cooling demand,” said Mayor Rob Douglas.

The building also now holds Victim Services and BC Highway Patrol offices that will pay leases to the municipality.

It also has expanded meeting and lunch rooms and spaces to get outside, which are among the features expected to help with officer recruitment.

Kendall Hanson

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