By Chris Holden
West Grey Council has decided to put work on the planned new West Grey Police Services station on hold.
During Tuesday (Jan. 18) evening’s council meeting, West Grey’s director of development and chief building official Karl Schipprack presented a police services building report. Following the report, Councillor Stephen Townsend moved to amend a motion to accept Schipprack’s report, tacking on a proposal to “defer any further action on the building until comparables are done.”
The comparables include the results of last September’s West Grey Police Service Board Community Survey; the finalized West Grey Police Service business plan; and the results of a consultancy firm analyzing an OPP costing request.
The motion passed 4-3, putting a halt to work on the planned new building. Townsend’s motion came after an earlier motion from Councillor Doug Hutchinson to defer further action on pursuing OPP costing until survey results were available, and a business plan completed. That motion was defeated 4-3.
The survey results have been collected, but have yet to be analyzed, according to Councillor Geoffrey Shea, chair of the West Grey Police Service Business Plan Committee. As for the completed business plan, Shea said, “Even though we’ve been at it for eight or nine months or longer, we’re only a third of the way through. The process got a little bit out of hand. Sorry to disappoint, sorry to report we’re very much behind schedule.”
West Grey Chief Administrative Officer Laura Johnston confirmed during the meeting that a costing request from the OPP has been submitted to the province.
“We could expect to hear something in as early as two weeks,” Johnston said, “however, there’s a pandemic, it could be up to six weeks.”
Following Townsend’s amended motion passing, pausing work on the building, Councillor Hutchinson said, “I’m concerned we’re going around in circles here. At the start of the meeting, we voted to not wait for the business plan or survey and to go ahead with OPP costing.”
Schipprack’s report noted the municipality was prepared to seek pricing quotes and construction schedules from pre-qualified firms early next week. Deputy Mayor Tom Hutchinson expressed concern over project costs rising as a result of any delays.
“There will be some significant additional fees if we don’t move forward with this design,” said Schipprack. “I don’t know if there’s any out clauses or if we’d have to pay the full project management fee or not if we move forward or not.”
Councillor Hutchinson said, “I wish we’d had this discussion three years ago, we’re in the third year of a four-year term and we’re changing direction. The Ministry has told us our police station is not appropriate; we chose to do something about that.”
Councillor Beth Hamilton said, “policing cost $1-million less in 2018. Yes, we’ve invested in this process, but we can’t be so focused on the short term. What’s the cost of policing in 10 years? Are people able and willing to pay for services?”