The Tofino RCMP has officially moved into its new detachment building after operating out of a modified residence on Lone Cone Road for the past two years.
“We’re super excited to be moving into the new space,” Cpl. Stu Hert told the Westerly News inside the new $10 million building at 400 Campbell Street on Friday.
The 1,200 square-metre building was paid for by the provincial and federal governments and Hert said it was a significant and needed investment because the former detachment was “way too small” to accommodate effective police work.
The former detachment was around 500 square metres and was built in 1977.
“It was old, it was out of date and it was very cramped. It was not keeping up with the modern needs of policing,” he said. “This [new] space is high-tech, modern, efficient, and it’s future proof. This community is growing at a significant rate and is becoming more and more popular with tourists and new residents year over year. We as police are getting busier year over year.”
He said the new detachment was designed with an eye on the community’s anticipated growth over the next 50 years.
“There’s room to grow in here. As we add resources, inevitably, as the community continues to grow and we get busier, there’s space for additional members to come work in here and join the team,” he said.
He added it is also seismically sound, self-contained and equipped with a large generator to keep it operational in an emergency event.
“This building is seismically designed to handle whatever this area can throw at it,” he said adding there is enough space to accommodate Tofino’s emergency operations centre if needed. “It really suits our needs and the needs of the community.”
The Tofino RCMP has a six-member roster and also oversees the Ahousaht First Nation detachment’s four officers who will benefit from the new detachment as well, according to Hert.
“This space can now accommodate having that influx of members whereas, in the old space, they were fighting to find a corner of a desk where they could sit down and do their work,” he said.
While the old building was being torn down and the new one built, Tofino police did not have access to cells at the temporary Lone Cone site they moved into in May, 2017, so all prisoners have been transported to Ucluelet.
“That was a strain on police resources as well as difficult for the prisoners themselves,” Hert said. “We provided bus vouchers for them to get back, or provided rides when our workloads permitted us to, but still, when you wake up in the morning after a hard party and find yourself in the next community over, it’s not an ideal situation.”
He thanked the Ucluelet RCMP for their support during the transition.
“We really appreciate the Ucluelet RCMP stepping up and assisting us over the past couple of years,” he said. “They were incredibly accommodating, opening their offices and their cells to us. They supported us a lot and we appreciate that.”
The new detachment was officially open and operational Monday morning and Hert hopes residents feel welcome to come in for community services, like criminal records checks, as well as to report any suspicious activity.
“Safe homes, safe communities. That’s really our ultimate goal as police and RCMP, to maintain the safety and the comfort of all people within the community,” he said.
“So, if you see something that makes you feel uncomfortable within your community, let us know. It might be something, it might be nothing, but we can take a look into it and help ensure that everyone feels safe, welcome and comfortable within the community that they live.”
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