OPP on track to move to new building in fall

Merna Emara
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Substantial completion of the new OPP detachment in Fort Frances is expected by September, OPP Sgt. Ann McEwen said. Construction did not stop when COVID-19 hit because all the workers and contractors took the precautions that the government recommended, McEwen added.

“There is no definite date for us to move-in or open as of yet, which is completely normal,” McEwen said. “We are anticipating the fall, but there is no plan as of yet. Right now all the contractors are working together. They are on target to meet their deadlines.”

The building work began in 2018, but the process to get work done began before that.

“In terms of the Ontario government working towards the location of the site, working with the town to pick the most suitable site that was more than a couple of years in the making. It is substantial completion by the end of September,” she said.

The detachment is calling this the OPP Modernization phase. This project is one of nine others that will be tackled under a $182-million fund. This is the second phase in the project that tackles OPP buildings that are on average over 40 to 60 years of age and past their expected life span.

These nine new buildings should achieve the silver certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. LEED is an internationally recognized rating system that recognizes buildings that are environmentally friendly.

“When the government works towards this, they are doing it for health and safety reasons. But they are also trying to create a facility that can meet the modern standards for policing,” McEwen said. “

“And then it is the Ministry of Community Safety Correctional Services and the OPP and they work together for a site selection process. The sites that they select, in working towards this modernization, are picked specifically to ensure that the sites will meet OPP operational requirements.”

Right now Fort Frances OPP’s work location is on 320 Portage Ave., and their new building will be on 200 McIrvine Road. The new 19,000 sq. ft. building will have seven holding cells, advanced security features and an evidence vault.

“It is going to be an impressive building. There is a lot of things that are going to be inside this building that are not inside the current attachment,” McEwen said.

“The size alone gives the officers much more opportunity to conduct their policing duties using the technology alone that will be available to the officers. For example, when responding to incidents whether it is something that involves taking people into custody.”

The new building will also be fully accessible and meet environmental standards, which recognizes buildings with a low environmental impact.

“The officers here are looking forward to it,” McEwen said. “They are excited about it. It is a boost for their morale and they are looking forward to something that is new and offers a professional policing environment that is going to help us police our community and offer that service and enhance our service to the Town of Fort Frances and the surrounding district and working with our community partners. I have been here for 21 years and it is an exciting endeavour to see this come to fruition.”