Fix and re-adapt the present, or start with a fresh slate? That's the question up in the air for City Council, the Estevan Police Board of Commisioners, the Estevan Police Service, and the general public to weigh in on and come to a conclusion.
A report compiled by a third party consultant, Rebanks Pepper Littlewood Architects, recommended several ideas to upgrade and modernize the facilities used by the EPS, as the 60 year old building is becoming cramped and limiting for 21st century police-work.
Four specific options were given. 11th Street could be closed off, the former fire hall re-purposed and an additional building built; closing 11th Street, demolishing the current station and building a new one while utilizing the old fire hall; simply demolishing and rebuilding the station; or starting a new building in a new location. The costs range from $8.9 million to 9.9 million, and with the $1,000,000 difference, the architects suggested that the best option would be to simply start afresh.
"There's ceiling tiles that have been removed to allow for folders and files to be stored adequately...there's absolutely no room left." - Police Chief Paul Ladouceur
For Police Chief Paul Ladouceur's part, he's avoiding having anything to do with the dirty technical details, opting instead to simply provide input from his expertise as to what a modern police facility would require. That said, he has no doubt that improvements need to be made.
"If we look at locker rooms, for example, it might seem minor when we say locker rooms aren't sufficient. When I say that, we now don't have the capacity to put another locker in our female locker room. If we were to hire another female today, where are we putting her? These are concerns that are now, today, they're not something that we're forecasting to be a problem five years from now, we're at that point."
"There's ceiling tiles that have been removed to allow for folders and files to be stored adequately, our property room is at it's max, there's absolutely no room left," he added.
While the option of leasing additional storage space can be considered, it also brings with it the challenge of security and alarm systems to go with the nature of police documents.
'It was a great building, in the 1950's," stated Ladouceur, "And then it got renovated in the 1990's, so it's kind of like driving a 1990's car, how reliable is it? The reality is that we're making do."
He said that they've stuck to a frugal budget to operate off of, and they don't want to ask for a police station for their own personal comfort, but rather to accommodate growth and evolving police operations.
"Do I want to be the chief that comes into Estevan and says we need a brand new building, or we need a brand new addition that's going to cost money? Absolutely not. But, would I be doing my duty as the Chief of Police in this community?"
That said, he and the Deputy have been actively scouting for ways to save costs, and they have no hesitation over putting anything left over from a year's budget towards a new facility, or upgrades.
"Make no mistake, this is a capital expense. This is a case where the City is required to provide policing facilities, it's their responsibility. The (Police) Board is responsible for leading that charge, but ultimately that goes through Council. In this role, when it comes to facilities, I'm a consultant at the end of the day," shared the Chief.
"It's a big decision for Council. We'll certainly be there as consultants along the way, to the (Police) Board and Council, saying what we believe a police service and police facility requires - a modern facility that will carry this community through the next forty, fifty years."