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New holding cells could cost $1.5 million

Kitchener police station reno could include 11 new cells at $136k each, one barrier free

By Heather Abrey
Kitchener Post staff

Waterloo Regional Police Service is examining a $1.5 million cellblock expansion in Kitchener to deal with increasing need for cell space.

“At some point our prisoner-handling capacity will exceed our current facilities,” deputy chief Brent Thomlison told the police service board last week.

In 2011, the board considered a plan to increase the number of cells from 25 to 41 at a cost of $3 million to $5 million.

The current cellblock, which is below ground, would have continued to operate while renovations were made to a new, ground-level facility.

“One of our challenges has always been — and that was why that ground-level renovation was so attractive — how do we continue operations during a renovation?” said Thomlison.

A new plan, which would cost approximately $1.5 million and expand the facility from 25 cells to 36, was presented to the board earlier this month. The current below-grade cellblock would be renovated to include a barrier-free cell, new ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems. It would remain open during the renovations.

“We’re trying to minimize that interruption, but there will be some impact on the building,” said Doug Gilmore, facilities planner for Waterloo Region.

Any overflow caused by disruptions to the facility could be housed at the south division cellblock in Cambridge, according to Gilmore.

While the report was purely to inform the police board, Gilmore said an architect has been engaged and is prepared to move forward as soon as possible.

“We would time construction to be after the October time period, when we judge that activity at the cellblock might be a little less than at other times of the year,” he said.

The current plan would cost approximately $136,000 per cell, whereas the previous renovation would have cost between $187,500 and $330,000 per cell.

The Waterloo Regional Police 10-year capital forecast includes $2 million for the renovation of the Kitchener cellblock.

“We believe we have the money and capital to do this renovation and it would certainly meet our needs out into probably 2020 time period,” said the deputy chief.

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