City approves purchase of old bank building in downtown area

The former Conexus Credit Union building on 10th Street East has new owners after Prince Albert city council officially approved the purchase on Monday.

Council voted by a 7-1 margin to pay $340,000 for the property, which will be used by the Prince Albert Police Service.

Mayor Greg Dionne said the move will give the city an extra decade to build a new police station, after a 2018 review concluded that their main facility on 15th Street West was too small.

“It’s a prudent million-dollar investment that’s going to solve our policing problems for the next 10-15 years,” Dionne said during Monday’s meeting. “That gives us lots of time to plan for a new one and see where we go.”

According to a report included in Monday’s council agenda package, the city hopes to sell department’s CID facility and put the money towards their new property. The City of Prince Albert purchased that building in 2008 at a cost of around $640,000. They haven’t received an appraisal of its current value, but Dionne said it’s going to be difficult to get what they paid for it.

The city also has to pay for renovations before the police can take over, something that will cost more than $650,00 and push the project’s total cost to around $1-million.

The authors of the report listed the location as the best reason council should consider purchasing the former Conexus building. Police chief Jonathan Bergen and city manager Jim Toye wrote that the new building would allow staff to quickly travel back and forth to the main police building, while also increasing their presence and visibility downtown.

Dionne and other council members said that last benefit was the biggest one. He’s hopeful it will help curtail crime in the area.

“When you move that many officers down, and they’re coming and going all the time, the area’s going to get a lot more attention than it’s been getting,” he said.

As part of the move, the police service will also receive 40 of the 83 public parking stalls located behind the building.

Ward 7 Coun. Dennis Nowoselsky was the only city councillor to vote against the purchase. He did not return calls from the Daily Herald asking for comment.

Lack of space hampers growth and effectiveness of police service, according to 2018 review

The Prince Albert Police Service Facility Analysis conducted in 2018 concluded that current police facilities lacked space, which not only hampered the growth of the force, but also made it difficult for current officers to do their jobs.

Among the many problems listed were the lack of space for victims services volunteers, and the close proximity of victims and perpetrators during interviews, especially in child exploitation and social services cases.

“Currently victims enter the police station in very close proximity to where the perpetrator is processed,” the report reads. “Standard practice is to have a separate calming space for victims when being interviewed by the service. Additional space of about 300 square feet is needed to provide the standard.”

Other areas where there is a need for more space include IT storage, records storage, SWAT locker space and a training room.

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