May 1, 2014 2:54 pm

$40-million price tag to refurbish Winnipeg’s Public Safety Building

WINNIPEG – City staff are proposing spending $40 million to refurbish the downtown Public Safety Building and relocate other municipal offices there after the police service moves out this year.

That’s one of the options for the future of the crumbling building and the vacant Civic Parkade next door in a long-awaited report to city council released Thursday.

It recommends the city spend $275,000 on consultants to develop the idea further.

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The future of the almost-50-year-old building has been in doubt since the city decided in 2009 to move the police into the former Canada Post building on Smith Street in 2014. The Princess Street building would require extensive renovations city staff say in their report, estimating the cost at $39.2 million.

“Based on the numbers we have so far, it looks like there is value in the current building,” said North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty, who sits on the Downtown Development committee.

The cost to buy and renovate the Smith Street building for a new police headquarters is $210 million, far above the original estimate of $135 million.

City staff propose turning PSB into a “Public Civic Service Centre” that would house municipal services, including the planning, property and development department and the Winnipeg Parking Authority.

“We have other city departments in space we are renting,” Browaty said. “We are looking at planning, property and development department, it is over several stories in Fort Garry Place, and we have space that the Winnipeg Parking Authority is renting by the University of Winnipeg. We are looking at centralizing that at a central campus. If that makes more sense for renting forever we need to look at that scenario.”

Selling the land the PSB sits on is not an option: the land was donated to the city in the 19th century on the condition that it be used for civic purposes or returned to the descendants of the original owners.

The report also suggests simply demolishing the PSB and turning the land into green space.

“It would be disappointing if at the end of the day they had to tear down that building,” said Brian Timmerman, the executive director of the Exchange District BIZ.

Demolition is the only option presented for the Civic Parkade, which was hastily shut down in August 2012 over fears the structure could collapse. A green space would be put in its place.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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