Police want to set up shop in former Kitchener courthouse
Published Sunday, April 23, 2017 3:24PM EDT Last Updated Sunday, April 23, 2017 7:25PM EDT
In the criminal justice system, a certain TV show liked to tell us, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups.
In Kitchener, one of those groups might soon be making its home in a building previously occupied by the other one.
The Region of Waterloo plans to buy the former provincial courthouse at 200 Frederick Street in Kitchener from the province.
The courthouse hasn’t been used by the province since 2013, when a new courthouse opened a few blocks away.
The province asked for expressions of interest in the property last fall. The region’s plan is to turn the building into the new home for the Central Division of Waterloo Regional Police, which handles policing for most of Kitchener.
Central Division currently operates out of the nearby building at 134 Frederick Street – which was constructed in 1958, has been renovated several times, and is now said to be bursting at the seams with no further room to grow.
Notably, a report prepared for regional councillors suggests that the configuration of the cell block leads to safety concerns, including difficulty in separating men from women and adults from children.
By moving down the street to 200 Frederick, which has 87,000 square feet of space over three floors and could be expanded further, the police would be able to more than double the amount of floor space they have in Kitchener. Some groups currently housed at the WRPS headquarters in Cambridge could be moved to Kitchener.
If the purchase goes through, the building at 134 Frederick could then be repurposed for other needs of the regional government.
The sale would also include Aporia, the prominent orange sculpture kept outside the building, as well as a piece of public artwork inside the building. Whether they would remain in place has not been determined.
Regional staff are budgeting $6.4 million for the deal, and say renovating 200 Frederick for the needs of police would bring the project cost to $42 million.
The purchase needs the approval of regional councillors. If approved, the purchase could close this summer, with the police moving into 200 Frederick by 2019.