© Nigel Armstrong
Stratford RCMP. FILE PHOTO
Stratford town council voted Wednesday for the lowest-cost option for housing its RCMP unit, opting not to invest in a full-service office.
Council approved a resolution for $75,000 of upgrades to the existing office that now shares and rents space from the Crossroads Fire Department.
Stratford RCMP will not get a police office with interview rooms, a Breathalyzer room, a secure exhibits storage space or a holding cell.
Such a police office is needed, the town agrees, but not until issues are sorted out about the future of the current combined fire and police station at the end of Mason Road. There are proposals for a complete redesign of that road system which may have an affect on the station building.
Wednesday's vote by council was called an "interim solution" until the future of the Mason Road and TransCanada highway intersection is decided by the provincial government.
For most of this year council has been considering options for housing its RCMP section. Meetings were held with regional and national RCMP staff, focusing on current office standards.
Stratford council voted last year to fund a civilian clerk for its six officers to help them stay in the town rather than travelling back and forth to the Maypoint office in west Charlottetown for routine work.
The current Stratford office location does not meet the minimum standards for a civilian clerk, things like two secure entrances, or a counter that has a secure, regulation height for meeting the public, or bullet-proof glass.
A committee working on the office issue considered six options, including building an addition to the existing office to make it into a full-service police station, building a whole new office, or renting and modifying existing space available elsewhere in the town.
Councillor Steve Ogden, chair of the town's safety services committee which deals with policing, said he and his committee wanted the latter option, starting right now to create a full-service police office within existing vacant business space.
"I think a long-term solution is affordable," said Ogden. "It would be something we could have accomplished in this term of council. Sometimes decisions are required in spite of uncertainty."
He was not able to convince the rest of council and was the sole vote against the motion to bring the current office up to standards for the clerk. That motion did say the upgrade will be a temporary solution while more work is done on the full-scale Stratford police office sometime in the future.
That future should include a regional police force, either joining with Charlottetown or creating a regional RCMP unit for Charlottetown, Cornwall and Stratford, said Councillor Emile Gallant.
Moncton has done that with its Codiac Regional RCMP, serving Dieppe, Moncton and Riverview, said Gallant.
"I read some of (Moncton's) reports and they look quite interesting," he said.