June 26, 2019

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New police HQ faces barriers

City to spend $1.9 million to add bollards

The old Canada Post building, now part of the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

The old Canada Post building, now part of the Winnipeg Police Service headquarters.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/10/2015 (1359 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The price tag for Winnipeg’s new police headquarters is on the rise again, this time because the city must erect a physical security barrier around the downtown building.

City hall is looking at spending $1.9 million next year to place bollards — vertical barriers, usually made of concrete and steel — along the sidewalks outside the new home of the Winnipeg Police Service.

Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, new public buildings in the U.S. and Canada have been protected by bollards or other physical barriers designed to minimize the potential damage wrought by attacks involving vehicles.

The placement of bollards along the streets outside the police headquarters has long been “a known requirement” of the project, city spokeswoman Alissa Clark said in a statement.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 6/10/2015 (1359 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

City hall is looking at spending $1.9 million next year to place bollards like these around the new police HQ.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

City hall is looking at spending $1.9 million next year to place bollards like these around the new police HQ.

The price tag for Winnipeg’s new police headquarters is on the rise again, this time because the city must erect a physical security barrier around the downtown building.

City hall is looking at spending $1.9 million next year to place bollards — vertical barriers, usually made of concrete and steel — along the sidewalks outside the new home of the Winnipeg Police Service.

Ever since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, new public buildings in the U.S. and Canada have been protected by bollards or other physical barriers designed to minimize the potential damage wrought by attacks involving vehicles.

In the interim, the city plans to place wide concrete dividers known as Jersey barriers, like these.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

In the interim, the city plans to place wide concrete dividers known as Jersey barriers, like these.

The placement of bollards along the streets outside the police headquarters has long been "a known requirement" of the project, city spokeswoman Alissa Clark said in a statement.

"They have been discussed and planned for several years," she said. "This ensures public and facility safety and supports this as one of our most secure and safe buildings."

The $1.9-million expenditure, however, was not included in previous budgets for the police headquarters, which has been marred by years of delays, $77 million worth of previous cost increases, a scathing external audit that chronicled severe project mismanagement and an ongoing RCMP investigation.

Council originally approved a budget of $135 million for buying the former Canada Post complex and converting its six-storey component into a new police headquarters. The total project tab now stands at $214 million, including the cost of the bollards.

They’re slated to rise alongside Garry Street, St. Mary Avenue and Smith Street once the city decides on a design, Clark said. Pending council approval, the cash would come out of the 2016 capital budget for the city’s planning, property and development department.

"There are different options under consideration," said council finance chairman Marty Morantz (Charleswood-Tuxedo). "The matter is still under consideration."

He and council property chairman John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry) said they don’t know why the cost of the bollards wasn’t addressed during previous police-HQ budget conversations.

Right now, there’s no time frame for installing the bollards, Clark said. That will happen after the security features are designed.

In the interim, the city plans to place wide concrete dividers known as Jersey barriers around the police headquarters on a temporary basis. These are the barriers commonly used to create roadblocks in war zones or block off highway lanes under construction.

"I don’t think they will be really consistent with our urban design features," Orlikow deadpanned.

The $1.9-million rise in the police-HQ project cost follows the disclosure earlier this year the city is spending $1.7 million to install retractable security doors, protect critical systems and make other improvements to the building. That work is underway.

The police are not expected to begin moving into the new building until December. The transfer of staff and equipment from the existing Public Safety Building on Princess Street is expected to take months.

The fate of the PSB, whose crumbling Tyndall-stone facade must still be fixed, remains unknown. The building may not be used for anything other than a public purpose, thanks to a caveat placed on the land by its original donors in 1875.

The fate of the 10-storey former Canada Post tower, purchased by the city along with the warehouse, also remains up in the air. The partly empty building requires millions worth of upgrades in order to attract tenants at a time when downtown Winnipeg has a glut of commercial office space.

Given the array of problems associated with the police-HQ project, Todd MacKay of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said he can’t understand why no municipal official has faced any consequences.

"In terms of accountability to taxpayers, how can this be?" asked MacKay, the CTF’s Regina-based Prairie director. "How is this nobody’s fault? Is this an act of God?"

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

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