The estimated cost of renovating and expanding the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) headquarters has grown by $16 million since March 2020.
The project is now expected to cost $76 million – up from the $60 million forecast in the feasibility study presented to council 20 months ago.
Council voted on Monday (Nov. 8) at their executive meeting to proceed to the next stage of the project – a detailed design and a request for proposals (RFP) for the hiring of a construction manager.
Consultant George Murray told council that the increased costs are mainly related to the pandemic, including disruptions in the supply chain, commodity costs for construction materials, a shortage of qualified labor, and inflationary pressures.
As well, he said since the feasibility study was completed, other needs have arisen for the APD building that weren’t previously addressed, such as having a breathalyzer room in the jail area and rooms for bail hearings to be conducted.
Murray said the expansion, when complete, is expected to accommodate another 30 to 50 years of growth for the APD.
“We have certainly ample space for the department to grow into the future … We’re not just building short-sighted; we’re building with a vision of a long-term plan and a long-term home for the APD,” he said.
The APD is currently split up over six buildings, and council was previously told that the department is outgrowing its current headquarters – located on Justice Way east of Clearbrook Road – and needs space for the future.
Murray said the space issues include jail services that are often full, halls and corridors being used as storage areas because storage rooms are being used for other purposes, and change rooms that are cramped and overflowing with gear.
The two options presented to council in March 2020 were a new building with an estimated cost of $84.5 million or an addition/renovation to the current building for a cost of almost $60 million.
Council voted on the expansion, and awarded the architectural contract to Stantec in August 2020.
The project includes expanding the building from two storeys to four and leaving approximately 15,000 square feet empty on the fourth floor to allow for future growth.
Councillors agreed that the expansion is sorely needed.
“To me, it’s not just about the amount of police officers and space in the building that they occupy. It’s about quality of life working there,” said Patricia Ross.
“Policing is a very, very stressful job .. so when you’re forcing them to work in difficult, cramped conditions, then you’re making that job for them so much harder.
Mayor Henry Braun said the project is “long overdue.”
“This is a doable plan, and we paid a lot of attention to the needs of our police department not only for today but going into the future,” he said.
It is estimated that approximately $40 million for the project will come from general capital reserves. Staff will bring a report to council on funding possibilities for the other $36 million, including long-term debt through the Municipal Finance Authority.
Construction is expected to run from September 2022 to December 2024.
The existing headquarters dates back to 1988, when it served the Matsqui Police Department. That force had 74 officers at the time.
The APD, which was created after the amalgamation of Matsqui and the District of Abbotsford, now has some 220 officers and 80 civilian staff. Over the next 20 years, it expects to add 100 more total staff.