Central police station among city center security task force recommendations

Calgary has not had a centralized police station since November 2017, when CPS closed its satellite office in Victoria Park.

Article content

Returning a police station to its core is one of the recommendations Calgary’s Downtown Safety Leadership Table will present to city council later this winter, a suggestion a police superintendent says the department agrees with. .

Co-chairs Mark Garner and Heather Morley on Thursday outlined three of the center’s security task force’s initial recommendations.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

They said the suggestions, which also include 24/7 outreach and more immediate funding for specialist housing for people facing addiction and mental health issues, are based on four months of consultations with more than 40 stakeholders on how to make downtown Calgary safer.

“We’re not going to have a station tomorrow, but there needs to be a station on the radar,” said Garner, who is also executive director of the Calgary Downtown Association.

Calgary has not had a downtown police station since November 2017, when the Calgary Police Service (CPS) closed its satellite station in Victoria Park.

The move, prompted by efforts to improve financial and operational efficiency, saw officers who were stationed at that facility reassigned to the CPS District 1 office in Ramsay.

The lack of a physical police presence in the city center amid ongoing concerns about rising crime (or the perception of rising crime) has sparked calls to reopen a central police station.

Former City Council members Druh Farrell and Jeromy Farkas requested an administrative investigation in 2019, tasking city staff with determining the feasibility of reestablishing a downtown police station.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

The former Victoria Park police station in Calgary
The Victoria Park police station in Calgary was photographed on Thursday, May 18, 2017. Gavin Young/Postmedia

The administration revealed five potential options at the time, including the former Greyhound Bus Terminal and the former Central Public Library.

Other options included the former downtown fire hall at 6th Avenue and 1st Street SE, the former Calgary Economic Development space at the Telus Convention Center and the North-West Travelers building at 5th Avenue and 1st Street SE.

But at the time, both the city and CPS stated that they were not actively exploring the idea. Police officials said a substantial investment would be required to reopen a downtown station, even if the space were provided free or at low cost.

Garner said the ideal location would be city property between downtown and the Beltline, depending on population density and the calls police respond to.

Garner added that it would likely take three to five years to establish such a facility.

He cited Kitchener, Ont., as an example of a city that recently retrofitted a downtown facility into a revitalized police station.

According to the Waterloo Region Record, the Region of Waterloo purchased a former provincial courthouse for $6.4 million and then spent an additional $35 million to convert the space into a new central police station. It opened in September 2023.

Advertisement 4

Article content

Recommended by Editorial

CPS agrees with recommendation, superintendent says

While the idea appeared to receive lukewarm feedback in 2019, a CPS official said Thursday that the department is on board with the idea of ​​reopening a downtown police station.

Superintendent Scott Boyd told Postmedia that CPS supports the recommendation and has short- and medium-term solutions in the works.

While CPS currently has a physical security “hub” along Stephen Avenue that officers can access, Boyd said the department is negotiating space agreements to establish a more comprehensive downtown site that includes service counter for the public.

“It’s an opportunity for us, the charter and the transit partners to have a landing spot, do some paperwork and then get back on the road,” he said.

“We have received excellent feedback that the presence of officers coming and going is great, but it would be better if we could allow public access to report crimes, collisions and other connections with the police.”

As for a long-term solution, Boyd said CPS wants to consult with the city to determine an ideal location to locate a new police station, considering traffic flows, accessibility and the types of events that will take place downtown. of Calgary in the future.

“We have now put ourselves in a position to understand where those major icons will be in the city centre. Now we can move on to the next phase. . . “We have to look to secure the right location that will allow us to build a police station in the future.”

The group’s recommendations will be compiled into a report and delivered to the city in March.

Article content

Leave a Comment