If you want to know just one of the reasons that a new RCMP detachment in Prince Rupert makes sense, take a quick drive down Highway 16 and check out some of the other locales.
It’s something I did by bicycle last year during the Cops for Cancer Tour de North, although the request for a new RCMP detachment wasn’t as formalized as it is now, and it really blew my mind when it comes to the differences. This past weekend my girlfriend and I made a trip to Prince George for a wedding and, although the thought of a potential referendum on a new building was way in the back of my mind, it was a bit of a reminder of how outdated and generally sketchy the Prince Rupert detachment is.
The Village of Burns Lake, a town with a population of about 2,100 people according to the 2006 census, boasts a much newer, multi-level facility with plenty of office space and two bays for the storage of things like snowmobiles, ATVs etc… It’s got a new elevator and the cells are significantly separated from where the officers do their work.
In New Hazelton, another community that doesn’t even come close to Prince Rupert in terms of population, they also have a newer multi-level building with a fenced back area, a more welcoming entrance area and office space comparable to the lower level of the Prince Rupert facility.
While these places also have to look after rural areas, there isn’t the same requirements in terms of looking after villages that are only accessible by boat, and the rural section and the main officers are all in the same building, unlike Rupert.
I could go on, but I think you get the gist of where this is going. Prince Rupert’s detachment not only looks small and run down from the outside (although it is being painted), it doesn’t hold a candle to the interior of the buildings in towns that are well below half our size.
Yes the look of the building is superficial, but newer buildings are inherently better equipped to deal with policing requirements that simply didn’t exist when the current building was constructed. They would also be better suited to house the current force and would undoubtedly play a bit more of a role when it comes to morale and retention.
The officers in Prince Rupert go above and beyond to not only look after the safety of residents in the City but in the outlying villages and areas. They’re also dealing with a higher case load than the provincial average and work on serious cases. I think it’s incumbent on the City to provide them the best working environment possible, and that is not the current configuration.
So bring on the referendum this fall. I certainly know how I’ll be voting…