Watch above: Out with the old and in with the new Saskatoon police HQ
SASKATOON – The Saskatoon Police Service bid adieu to the old headquarters on Wednesday morning.
“This is it, goodbye to the old building,” said Clive Weighill, chief of Saskatoon police.
Weighill ceremoniously locked the door at the old police station on 4th Avenue and then led the force on a parade to the doors of the new building on 25th Street.
— Wendy Winiewski (@WendyWGlobal) July 16, 2014
The chief calls it an historic and exciting day. But it wasn’t without controversy.
City council approved the new 350,000 square foot facility in June 2011 at a cost of $122 million.
The entire project is funded through taxpayer dollars; something Mayor Don Atchison says is achievable in a thriving city.
“It’s a project that needed to be built and if we didn’t build it now, who would build it, when would they build it. If not us, who? If not now, when,” questioned Atchison.
The police service, which consists of over 500 employees, has long outgrown the 100,000 square foot building on 4th Avenue.
About one million dollars was being spent annually renting office space throughout the city to house the force.
The new building is expected to be big enough to accommodate the police until the city’s population reaches 500,000. At that point, it is anticipated sub-stations will be built.
Deputy Chief Bernie Pannell was a constable when the old station opened in 1977.
He told the crowd of dignitaries and members of the public about the years he spent lobbying officials for a new building.
“Our lunch room in the old building became offices. All of our meeting rooms became offices as we needed to gather up all of our extra space,” said Pannell.
The new station has underground parking, eliminating the need to warm up cruisers in winter. There’s a large gym, an indoor firing range and upgraded evidence storage.
“We have proper commercial fridges and freezers to house our exhibits in a proper area so that we don’t lose exhibits,” said Weighill.
The old station and parking lot on 4th Avenue was put on the market last fall for a reserve price of $15.6 million.
At the last council meeting, the reserve price was removed and the property sits unsold.