NRP headquarters emptying out

By Bill Sawchuk, St. Catharines Standard

A police officers enters Niagara Regional Police headquarters earlier this week. Bob Tymczyszyn/Standard Staff

A police officers enters Niagara Regional Police headquarters earlier this week. Bob Tymczyszyn/Standard Staff

The final public meeting of the Niagara Regional Police Services Board at 110 James St. in St. Catharines was brisk and efficient Thursday.

It was one of many quick farewells that will take place over the coming weeks as the NRP abandons its downtown location for a new state-of-the-art complex in Niagara Falls.

“The building at 110 James St. has been declared surplus and will be put on the market,” said Marnie Cluckie, director of facilities management and construction for Niagara Region.

“After everyone has moved out around Thanksgiving, decommissioning will take place — which will involve the removal of IT equipment and other things of that nature. At that point, we will clean it and get it ready for sale.”

The $65-million headquarters in Niagara Falls, which took three years to build, officially opened with a 6 a.m. briefing for Niagara Falls uniform staff Tuesday.

Over the coming weeks, the NRP’s headquarters units in St. Catharines will move to Niagara Falls.

Central records will open at the new facility on Monday. The 911 and communications unit is slated to move Wednesday. Evidence management goes Thursday.

Oct. 3 is the biggest move-in day. That’s when executive brass and investigative units will make their way to Niagara Falls. The licensing and bylaws unit heads over on Oct. 6 with forensics going on Oct. 11. Court staff migrates on Oct. 18.

Deputy Chief Joe Matthews said people will notice moving trucks on James Street in the coming days and weeks.

“The response from all our staff to the new building has been overwhelming,” Matthews said. “I am proud of all the work that everyone has done to put the plan in motion. So far so good. We are doing really well with it.”

From a historical perspective, the police began using 110 James St. in 2002. The St. Catharines detachment, which also served as headquarters, had become increasingly overcrowded and obsolete. 

The police service board, finance departments and human resources departments moved to the leased space on the fourth floor of the building on the corner of James and Church streets.

In 2005, the Region purchased the building, kicked the existing tenants out, and performed major renovations so it could serve as the police headquarters. 

“This building has been home for a long time, and it has been my home since I’ve been here,” Chief Jeff McGuire said. 

“I think there are aspects of it that will be missed. We are going to miss downtown St. Catharines. It’s nice to walk out of the building and be in downtown and walk around and talk to people, but other than that, there won’t be a whole lot that we will miss.” 

The new complex in Niagara Falls is three storeys and covers 18,900 square metres. It is located on 3.2 hectares of land near the Ontario Provincial Police office and visible from Highway 420. It also replaces the Niagara Falls detachment on Morrison Street.

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik told reporter Karena Walter and the online Chat with the Mayor Show Thursday that he didn’t think the Region will have trouble finding a buyer for 110 James St.

“It is a significant structure, and when you look at what is happening in St. Catharines, we are attracting more technology companies and software developers,” he said. “They are looking at our downtown as the area to go for creativity. We are the creative hub of Niagara and that building will continue to solidify our position. 

“More and more businesses are looking at downtown St. Catharines from an investment perspective, and I think you will see upward pressure on our vacancy rates for office space. That building should be filled pretty quickly.”

James Street Blues 

The history of the police headquarters at the corner of James and Church streets in St. Catharines:

2002: Region leases the fourth floor of 110 James St. for the police services board, human resources department and finance department. 

2005: Region purchases building and undertakes renovations to accommodate and relocate headquarters units, senior administrative and executive staff and central fraud unit. Existing tenants given notice to vacate the premises.

2006: Another renovation project undertaken for about $6 million to upgrade the facility to house more headquarters units.

2016: Staff leaves building for new complex in Niagara Falls on Valley Way near Highway 420.

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