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Construction omission leaves Belleville police staff in the cold

The north wall of Belleville's brand new, $25-million police station may already need to be upgraded. Paul Soucy / Global News

As winter approaches, some Belleville police officers and administrative staff will have to bundle up at their workspaces.

The police service recently made a request to council for insulated siding to be installed on the north side of its new Sidney Street headquarters.

Last winter some staff working in that part of the building were forced to wear winter boots and clothing in order to keep warm. However, police Chief Mike Callaghan says the same request had been made before the new facility was retrofitted.

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“The decision had been made not to put the Kingspan insulation on the exterior existing walls to keep the original façade of the building, as well as keeping costs down,” Callaghan said.

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Belleville Coun. Kelly McCaw was serving at the time the decision was made. McCaw, who is now on the police services board, says she only recently found out the siding was never installed.

“This is something that the past council that I was on did not know,” McCaw told Global News.

“It was never brought to council. There was never a discussion regarding any cutbacks for the station.

“We had approved that budget at $25 million with the understanding that everything would have been done as it should have been done.”

Global News reached out to former mayor Taso Christopher and former CAO Rick Kester to ask why council was never consulted, but neither responded to our requests.

Now, the City of Belleville is looking to spend as much as $360,000 to install the siding after all, when it would have cost $175,000 during construction, leaving some taxpayers fuming.

“I’m not going to say incompetence, but it kind of leads me to think that way,” Dave Daley said.

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“I understand the need for keeping things fiscally responsible, but we also have to look after our police officers as well. So I think this is a huge mistake on their part,” Heather Wilson said.

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“We have homeless and other issues that are more pressing,” Shelley Dafoe said. “This is it going to be a lot of money that’s going to be spent on fixing this wall.”

According to Callaghan, there are two inches of insulation from the original build 60 years ago, which still meets industrial code standards.

There was also no indication from the previous tenants this would have been an issue.

“You look at the ordinarily cautious person ought to have known — you couldn’t have known that we would have run into the situation,” Callaghan said. “But we’re into that situation now, so now we have to address it.”

There are two options on the table to add insulated siding to the north wall, which will be discussed at the next city council meeting on Dec. 13.

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