The future of policing capabilities in Estevan was on the mind of City Police Chief Paul Ladouceur Monday night and, he hopes, subsequently on the minds of City Council.
Ladouceur and Deputy Police Chief Murray Cowen presented a report, compiled by Rebenks Pepper Littlewood Architects, outlining areas and aspects of the police station that could use improvement and upgrades to modern standards.
Several options were given, however, the choices essentially come down to expanding the current 60-some year old facility or starting anew, and there was some differing perspectives that evening as to which would be the more cost effective. That said, the third party evaluating, reputable experts in the field, concluded that a new building was in order. The price tag for such a venture was projected at $9.9 million, while sticking to renovations and expansion was placed at $8.9 million.
"Ultimately, this is not a decision for the Chief of Police, this is a decision for Council on the capital expense to provide adequate policing facilities moving forward in this community," stated Ladouceur, "Out of due diligence, both the Deputy and myself found it necessary to make the Council and (Police) Board aware that it's time to start turning our minds towards that."
Space and security are the primary concerns for the Estevan Police Service when it comes to their current station.
"It's a big decision for Council. We'll certainly be there as consultants along the way, saying what we believe a police service and police facility requires."
"We don't have to build what the architects are suggesting in the report, but if you follow the guidelines that they are even looking at, in my opinion it would be too expensive," observed Mayor Roy Ludwig,,adding that the price tag came as a surprise.
"I was surprised at the overall cost, I was not expecting that big (for a new facility). That's why I thought, myself - and we'll have these discussions - that it'd be probably more efficient to expand the existing building."
However, Councillor Dennis Moore had a differing perspective. After the floor was opened following the Chief's presentation, he spoke up in favor of a brand new station.
"What I was trying to get across was, rather than patching up two or three buildings that we have now and do a half job, I'd rather see - like we did with the initial building years ago - we design one and put it together for the times. Maybe we won't have to have it as large as what the folks are telling us, but I'd rather see a new one than trying to make something work that, in the end, is not feasible and won't work for the people."
"Every time we try to patch up something, in most cases it costs us more money, and we don't have what we really thought we would have," he added.
Council also discussed an HR policy in regards to marijuana, for when it becomes legal next month, and other substances. Basically, setting guidelines around their zero tolerance in the City workplace, and the standards for reasonable suspicion. Nothing is allowed while on the job that will inhibit safety, and anything taken has to be approved by a pharmacist or physician. If impairment is suspected, based on a variety of physical signs, the employee can be sent for testing. The policy lays out the signs that can be marked as reasonable suspicion.
"Our HR group has spent a lot of time going to seminars, talking to lawyers, talking to other cities of our size, to government officials, and this is a policy that they brought forward...it's been well researched, and we feel that will meet our needs," said Ludwig.
Another topic of discussion was a new combination vac sewer truck, with City shop foreman Dylan Paradis on hand to present a case for one to Council.
"We proposed the purchase of a new one to replace our aging 2006 Vactor unit. The new one has got a lot more state of the art features that we are needing."
In winter, a lot of jobs have to be contracted out due to the current truck's limitation. Council approved, and the tender has been closed, with Paradis noting that they have one on the way.
Other items discussed by Council included several routine reports from the Fire Chief, Water Treatment Plant, building permits and more. The first reading of an amendment to the Economic Development Board was also had.