Moncton has spent $200K to keep old RCMP station safe as new facility is built

·4 min read
The Codiac Regional RCMP building was constructed in the 1970s for a municipal police force and is now considered too small and requiring too much work to continue using.  (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
The Codiac Regional RCMP building was constructed in the 1970s for a municipal police force and is now considered too small and requiring too much work to continue using. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

A newly released report offers a long list of fire and life-safety risks at the Codiac Regional RCMP station Moncton is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to address while building a new $57-million station.

Sherry Trenholm, Moncton's director of facilities, said in an interview the municipality has spent more than $200,000 already on the city-owned building and expects the total to reach about $600,000.

"We're trying to do it as cost effective, but keeping all the occupants of the building safe and making sure it's a functional building until they relocate to the new structure," Trenholm said.

The spending addresses recommendations from several inspections carried out for the city in recent months. Those reports were released to CBC following an access to information request.

Problems with the state of the building have previously been described at city council meetings, though the reports offer details and photos not previously public about issues with the building.

Last fall, a letter revealed four of the seven holding cells in the station were closed after a September review found "serious failures in security." That review, which CBC requested, was not among the documents released. The building was described by a city staff member as "failing."

Shane Magee/CBC
Shane Magee/CBC

Trenholm says the building remains safe for occupancy.

"Yes, absolutely. Or we wouldn't be occupying it at the moment," Trenholm said.

One of the reports released to CBC was a fire and life–safety audit carried out by RJ Bartlett Engineering Ltd. in December. The 50-page report, portions of which were blacked out before being released, has 24 recommendations to be completed immediately, 23 within three months, and two more within a year.

Among them are to replace a backup generator that spewed exhaust into the building while running, replacing sprinklers, removing hazardous materials like propane tanks, replacing flammable carpet in an interview room, replace exit lights, develop a fire safety plan, and tell staff not to prop open fire doors.

City of Moncton/Submitted
City of Moncton/Submitted

A leaky roof led to various ceiling tiles being removed from a drop ceiling. However, the report says that would affect the reliability of sprinklers because smoke could gather above where they're located.

Some fire extinguishers were last checked in 2020, while others in 2010. Fire extinguishers in government offices are required to be checked yearly.

Various walls meant to serve as fire barriers had large holes around mechanical pipes or above doors where there shouldn't have been holes.

City of Moncton/Submitted
City of Moncton/Submitted

Photos in the report show extension cords taped into power outlets to provide more outlets. Bikes and other equipment stored in the bottom of a stairwell would need to be relocated, the report said.

Trenholm says a number of the recommended steps have already been addressed, though more remain to be done. A rented backup generator has been installed outside the building to replace the one inside.

She said work has been carried out on the roof to deal with leaks.

A separate hazardous materials assessment in November by ALL-TECH Environmental Services Ltd. found lead paint on door frames and window trim and some materials like floor tiles with asbestos. The report says paint found around a holding cell window and "throughout the cell area" exceeds lead guidelines.

Shane Fowler/CBC
Shane Fowler/CBC

Another report by Vintage Brick & Stone Inc. from February outlines problems with the building's masonry.

"Building looks like it was struck by vehicles on multiple occasions," the report says about an exterior wall along the visitor parking lot. Concrete barriers now separate vehicles from the wall.

Several councillors last fall expressed dismay at the state of the building, questioning why it had been allowed to deteriorate.

Trenholm in the interview said the city tried to minimize spending as it planned to move the police force to a new building. However, that planning process took almost a decade.

"The approach at the time to doing maintenance- if it failed, fix it," Trenholm said. "So they didn't want to invest a significant amount on the building not knowing the life expectancy in it."

However, now the city needs to spend thousands to address life–safety and fire risks to keep it open until the new structure is ready.

The new police station was originally expected to be complete in two years. After city council awarded the contract for the work to Pomerleau Inc., a report says that timeline slipped to early 2025.

"The estimated project completion date of spring 2024 has been adjusted due to the current market circumstances and global supply chain challenges which can result in delays, mostly related to materials and obtaining equipment," the report states.

Pat Bouchard, the Atlantic and central region director for the National Police Federation, said in a statement that construction of the new building can't come soon enough.

The statement from the union representing the Mounties says it has been in regular contact with the city and RCMP about the repairs to the building.

"The National Police Federation has heard from its members for some time now about the continued issues with the Codiac Regional Detachment building – issues and inadequacies that have been well-known and long-standing as a result of negligence and delays," Bouchard said.

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