With space at a premium in the Saanich Police department at 760 Vernon Ave., the Saanich Police have found a bit of breathing room.
About 11,000 square-feet of it to be exact.
Next to Uptown is Saanich Police’s newest building at 57 Cadillac Ave., where the 111-year-old police force has transplanted 48 positions, officers and civilians, from 760 Vernon.
The additional building is strictly office space and is without reception and mostly closed to the public. So while it’s not a deemed a ‘police station,’ it is home to several key programs for Saanich Police, including it’s five-member community engagement division, headed by Insp. Trent Edwards.
“This is much better, it’s a relief,” said Edwards. “I came to the Saanich Police in 1992. Space was an issue even then.”
In addition to the community engagement division, the three-storey office building at 57 Cadillac now houses some of Saanich Police’s detectives, such as the Financial Crimes Unit, as well as the Family Protection Unit, Regional Domestic Violence Unit, and Saanich’s Block Watch program, which has two employees and up to six summer volunteers.
Originally, Saanich Police and the District of Saanich considered relocating some of the police department into the now vacant building that once housed Emily Carr Library at 3500 Blanshard St.
But by late 2014, it was clear the old library wasn’t going to work.
“Inspectors Terry Parker and Brett Fryer started the process and were working on the old library… but the costs escalated beyond reason,” said Edwards, who oversaw the move into 57 Cadillac after he inherited the relocation process.
The lease to 57 Cadillac was signed in December of 2015 at $179,000 per year. Construction (by Story Construction) for the leasehold improvements lasted through the summer of 2016 and cost about $513,000 for architect fees, furniture (by Graphic Office), telephone systems, security systems and IT equipment, etc.
“We started moving in, one unit at a time, in September,” Edwards said. “There were some bugs, some phone and security issues, and we were fully staffed and operational by November.”
On the flip side, by moving 48 people out, Saanich Police was able to free up some much needed breathing room at 760 Vernon.
“It allowed us to create a couple of meeting spaces at 760, which is very helpful, and some desk space,” Edwards said.
The truth is it’s not ideal to have a fragmented office, and the current situation is not a long term answer, Edwards added.
“You want to have everyone under the same roof, it’s better for communication, but this is not insurmountable,” Edwards said. “We just have to work harder to stay connected.”
The District of Saanich’s upcoming facilities review will look at housing the entire Saanich Police department in one all encompassing building.
A couple of notes for clarification about the new building:
- 57 Cadillac is closed to the general public wanting to report a crime or get a police information check, etc., can go to 760 Vernon Ave. or by calling the non-emergency line at 250-475-4321.
- Some programs at 57 Cadillac, such as the Block Watch program, are open to the public but by appointment only.