Two fully operational RCMP detachments will continue to serve both the north and south ends of the Cowichan Valley.
Chief Superintendent Sean Sullivan, the RCMP’s commander of the Island District, said the plan is to renovate and modernize the old Shawnigan Lake RCMP detachment and it will continue to provide 24/7 policing to the south end communities it serves.
But he said the plan calls for their being no cells or file rooms at the renovated Shawnigan Lake detachment and those services would be shifted to the new North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment that is being planned.
Sullivan said the decision was made this spring after RCMP and provincial officials met with the local municipalities to discuss the issue.
“The location for the new North Cowichan/Duncan detachment is still in discussion with local governments but, once confirmed, there will be two modern detachments serving North Cowichan/Duncan and the Shawnigan Lake region that will provide a coordinated service, better information sharing, and 24/7 coverage,” Sullivan said.
“We have determined that having two fully functioning detachments is the most operationally feasible and cost-efficient way to move forward.”
North Cowichan chose a five-acre location on Ford Road in 2014 as the location to build a new North Cowichan/Duncan detachment, but there’s no guarantee that it will be built there.
Former Liberal Solicitor General Mike Morris said last year that the government was considering amalgamating both detachments.
That raised concerns in the south end that a new, centralized detachment would be located too far away to quickly respond to calls for service in that area.
Sullivan said no timelines have yet been established as to when the renovations and upgrades at the Shawnigan Lake detachment will begin.
He said it’s likely that the work will be done in conjunction with the building of the new North Cowichan/Duncan detachment.
That detachment is expected to be larger than the current one and will have offices for provincial and well as municipal officers.
But Sullivan said the Municipality of North Cowichan is still considering funding options for the facility.
“Who will pay for what has yet to be determined,” he said.
“The province could pay and the municipality could lease it, they could co-pay or the municipality could build it and lease it to the province.”
As well, Sullivan said the amalgamation referendum in June delayed the decision-making process, and the upcoming municipal elections in the fall could delay the process even further.
“I’d like to say that we’ll get started sooner rather than later, but we really don’t know,” he said.