FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Several community members stopped by the new Fort St. John RCMP detachment on Friday to celebrate its grand opening.
Fort St. John Mayor Lilia Hansen, Doig River First Nation Chief Trevor Makadahay, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald and RCMP Inspector Anthony Hanson all spoke during the ceremony.
Hosted by councillor Trevor Bolin, the ceremony began with members of the RCMP raising the flag with the help of a new recruit, followed by the national anthem and guest speakers.
Makadahay talked about the long relationship between the RCMP and Indigenous communities, hoping for the return of activities like hockey tournaments hosted by police in the past.
“It’s important to have that connection and to teach our youth not to be afraid of the RCMP,” said Makadahay.
“When I look at this building I see things like the animal tracks on the concrete, and once elements like our language are up on the building, our Indigenous groups will feel a stronger connection. I want to thank the RCMP and all their years of hard work keeping our communities safe.”
Makadahay placed an emphasis on creating a connection with the youth in indigenous communities in order to improve the image that they might have of the RCMP.
Hansen expressed the gratification she felt after witnessing the construction of the building as a councillor and now as mayor.
“I think it’s important that when we developed this building and its footprint, we looked towards having that expansion for when our community grows in the future,” said Hansen.
“With the officers that come in, they’re staying for years longer than they used to. I think that there’s a lot of room for growth for RCMP members that come to Fort St. John for learning and training,” answered Hansen.
Mayor Hansen focused on the importance of officer retention compared to previous years. She added that things have changed thanks to current leadership and the design of the program, encouraging RCMP members to come to Fort St. John.
In his speech, McDonald discussed the connection between the RCMP and the community, reminiscing about the early days of the organization in Fort St. John.
“In the early days, police officers were located at the airport, which contained the RCMP station, the courthouse, the jail, the living quarters for the family of the detachment commander and a constable,” said McDonald.
“For the RCMP, the detachment is more than just a building, it houses our history and our vision for the future. It is also where the community can find a place of refuge,” said McDonald.
“This building symbolizes the wonderful connection with the people that we serve.”
Finishing with a strong message of commitment to serving the community, McDonald highlighted the pride of officers, police and volunteers in serving the residents and visitors of the city.
Inspector Hanson gave prominence on how the new infrastructure and amenities of the new detachment will amplify the capabilities of the organization.
“It is wired to support all the audiovisual technologies, it has secure wi-fi in the building, a lot of laptops since all of our records management systems are computerized, infrastructure wiring to support our radio communications and a built-in inventory tracking system,” said Hanson.
He also mentioned that their previous detachment didn’t have most of these systems because of dated equipment, construction errors and a lack of workspace.
“Half of my people worked in the basement with no windows, but we made things work as the detachment grew over the last 40 years,” stated Hanson.
After a performance and blessing from the Doig River Drummers, the ceremony ended and guests were able to stick around for a barbeque.
Replacing the previous 35-year-old detachment, this new building comes equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and 80 per cent less energy consumption.
This sustainably built $51.4 million detachment is the first municipal building to be built with a net zero energy target in the province and is equipped with solar powered panels and HVAC systems that will make this a possibility in the future.
Receiving $11.5 million of investment from the federal government for being a net-zero project, Fort St. John financed 62.5 per cent of the construction, whilst the RCMP financed 37.5 per cent of the total cost.