Second Potential Site Identified for New North Cowichan / Duncan RCMP Building


North Cowichan has identified and entered into a conditional purchase agreement for an alternate site for a new North Cowichan / Duncan Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment at the north-west corner of Ford and Drinkwater Roads, immediately north of Cowichan Commons Shopping Centre. This 1.21 hectare site is being considered in addition to a potential site located on the north side of Beverly Street between the Trans-Canada Highway and York Road. 
North Cowichan has been looking for a suitable location for a new RCMP facility for approximately four years. To date, the only potentially suitable and available site that has been identified is a Municipally-owned 1.78 hectare parcel located on the north side of Beverly Street, created as a result of the construction of the new flood protection dike. This site was contingent on the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) approving North Cowichans application to exclude the parcel from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The public has expressed concerns of this sites close proximity to the Somenos Marsh.
Not knowing if the Agricultural Land Commission would approve North Cowichans application to exclude the Beverly Street parcel from the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), Council identified the property on Ford Road as another potential site for a new RCMP facility and entered into a conditional purchase agreement, stated Mayor Jon Lefebure. Because of the difficulty in finding a suitable location, Council felt it was in the best interests of the community to pursue the purchase of the Ford Road property as an alternative option, he added.
On January 3, 2014, Council received word from the ALC that it had approved North Cowichans application to exclude the 1.78 hectare site on Beverly Street from the ALR. In addition, the ALC also approved North Cowichans application to include a separate 3.26 hectare site at the east end of Beverly Street into the Agricultural Land Reserve, in keeping with the policies established by North Cowichans Official Community Plan and Councils commitment to ensure that any exclusion request results in a net benefit to agriculture in North Cowichan.
The conditional purchase of the Ford Road property as an alternative option puts us in a much better position to carefully consider the merits of each site and not be limited to focussing on just one potential site, Mayor Lefebure added.
In order to complete the purchase of the Ford Road site, which is not in the ALR, North Cowichan Municipal Council will have to consider an application to rezone the subject property from its current zoning (A2 Rural Zone) to PU (Public Use) for the 1.21 hectare portion of the property included in the conditional purchase agreement, and R1 (Residential Rural Zone) for the 0.89 hectare portion of the property (which contains the existing single-family dwelling) which will be retained by the current owner. Council will consider first and second reading of a bylaw to this effect at its next Regular Council meeting at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 15, 2014. If the rezoning application is approved following the Public Hearing scheduled for February 5, 2014, and Council decides to proceed with the Ford Road site purchase for the RCMP building, then the property will also need to receive subdivision approval to complete the purchase.
It is anticipated that further review and analysis of the two sites will be considered by Council in February 2014. Both sites are centrally located within the RCMP service area with quick and easy access to the Trans-Canada Highway, and close to the City of Duncan and University Village core areas.
The RCMP Building at 6060 Canada Avenue is too small to properly accommodate existing staff, and the building does not meet current building and safety codes, especially in the cell areas.
Construction of a new RCMP building is included in the 2015 Municipal budget.