The rain Monday morning made it easy for officials to break ground on Orillia’s new OPP detachment.
The building will be constructed at 1 University Ave., at the corner of Old Barrie Road. That’s where Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop was joined by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Infrastructure Minister Monte McNaughton, Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey and representatives from the OPP and Infrastructure Ontario for Monday’s ceremony.
“Policing is one of the most (important) services provided in any community,” Jones told the crowd.
She noted the new detachment will include evidence vaults, holding cells, CCTV and other security features.
Construction of the two-storey building, which will be 33,000 square feet in size, is expected to be finished in November 2020.
The current detachment on Peter Street has been in use since OPP started policing Orillia in 1996.
“It is to the credit of our police services that they’ve been able to do such incredible work in such dated spaces,” Jones said.
The construction is part of a public-private partnership with Bird Construction. McNaughton said those types of partnerships are known for getting projects “delivered on time and on budget.”
Officials didn’t have information on the cost of the Orillia detachment alone, as it is part of a $40-million project that also includes a new detachment in Parry Sound. Both are part of Phase 2 of a $182-million OPP modernization plan that will see nine detachments replaced in the province.
“These new detachments will modernize our entire police force,” McNaughton said.
When it was announced Orillia OPP would be moving to the west end of town, there was some concern about what that would mean for police presence downtown. Not to worry, said Provincial Cmdr. Mary Silverthorn, of OPP corporate services.
“We’ll still be present. Our model of policing is a community-based model. There will be no changes to services,” she said, noting that includes foot and bicycle patrols downtown.
The City of Orillia recommended a list of sites to Infrastructure Ontario, which chose the University Avenue location. One of the reasons it was selected was its proximity to Highway 11.
It was “the right choice at the right time in the right place,” McNaughton said.