Outgoing library building to become new Saanich police station

The soon-to-be-vacated space that houses the Emily Carr library is slated to become a new home to the Saanich police department.

The soon-to-be-vacated space that houses the Emily Carr library is slated to become a new home to the Saanich police department.

Saanich council on Monday approved spending up to $975,000 to convert the 40-year-old building into new office space for the police.

“What this does in the immediate term is relieve space requirements. We have been adding staff – some for policing, some of it for community policing, some of it for oversight because of provincial laws – and we’ve had to convert storage space into office space in the (existing police) building,” said Mayor Frank Leonard.

“This move will alleviate the space needs. The bigger problem, which we can’t solve right away because we don’t have the money, is the core building was built in the ’60s and it’s not seismically sound, nor is it particularly sufficient. This buys us some time.”

The plan is to keep a yet-to-be determined number of police units in the old library building for six to eight years. Leonard said the police board considered leasing office space in the Uptown area, but that would cost upwards of $3.5 million.

“It would be a lot of money on a short-term benefit. This (building) being our own asset, it just seems like a better use of taxpayers’ money,” Leonard said.

In April of this year the Greater Victoria Public Library approved moving the Emily Carr branch to a new space at Uptown. In May, Saanich council approved a $1.5-million contract with Morguard Investments, which owns Uptown, to lease the new library space for 10 years.

Saanich police units likely won’t move into 3500 Blanshard St. until next year, after the old library space undergoes renovations.

kslavin@saanichnews.com