With pomp and ceremony the town’s $4.5 million RCMP and Protective Services building was officially opened last Friday morning.
Members of the local detachment, dressed in their red serge marched into place shortly after 11 a.m. and then an RCMP piper paraded the special guests to a tent set up on the parking lot of the building.
They included Honourable Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dale McGowan, Commanding Officer “K” Division, MP Earl Dreeshen, MLA Kerry Towle, Mayor Susan Samson and other RCMP officers.
“What a momentous occasion,” began Samson who acknowledged her councillors, mayors of surrounding municipalities and others before she began.
She talked about the importance of the new “expanded base for the RCMP and town bylaw”.
“Sylvan Lake is now home to over 12,300 residents and we have the unique opportunity of being a major tourist destination for the province, attracting over 1.5 million visitors per year.” As a result of that the community’s policing needs are greater than other communities of similar size.
“We accept that responsibility by having a police-to-citizen ratio of one RCMP officer for every 800 persons.” The town also finances enhanced policing to bring in additional officers at busy times throughout the year.
“To continue to provide the same top quality service, protection, presence and community involvement, the Town of Sylvan Lake committed to building a new protective services building, a big house actually, two stories, 1,650 square metres, so that RCMP and town bylaw can continue to provide the service that Sylvan Lake citizens and businesses expect.”
Samson added, “The RCMP have recognized the Town of Sylvan Lake’s commitments and complemented them by staffing this detachment with young, enthusiastic, committed members who reside in our community; being innovative and recognizing our uniqueness in their policing approaches as shown by their mobile equipment – Segways, bicycles, seadoos, boats, ATVs and snow machines; providing weekly update reports to our local paper; providing members to mentor, coach and educate various special interest groups; and participating in town activities including pond hockey, info fairs, social events, boards and committees.
“What a great partnership, what great value for Sylvan Lake,” she concluded.
Staff Sergeant Gary Rhodes, Sylvan Lake detachment commander, called the building a “milestone for Sylvan Lake. It’s a positive, efficient place for RCMP members to work.”
“I always look forward to openings like this as there’s always a breath of fresh air that contains fresh energy,” said RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dale McGowan.
Because RCMP members are working in the buildings 24-7 the comfort and technological ability provided in new buildings are important.
At four times the size of the old detachment, this building is designed to ensure that Sylvan Lake RCMP has the office space, exhibit storage, holding cells and technological equipment required to meet the current and future policing needs of this growing community.
“Sylvan Lake detachment has always been on the leading edge of “K” Division in terms of equipment which includes a boat, seadoos, quads, snowmobiles and of course the ever popular Segways, and this new building is certainly in keeping with that trend.
“The facility now also houses other public safety services personnel who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the RCMP in our efforts to ensure public safety in Sylvan Lake, Eckville, Bentley, Benalto and the summer villages. This new arrangement will serve to strengthen the strong bonds of partnership and co-operation between our members and their public safety partners,” said McGowan.
“The stronger those bonds, the safer the community.”
He added, “A RCMP detachment is made up of more than just bricks and mortar. It requires a strong foundation of public support, something the RCMP has enjoyed here from our earliest days in this province. It is something that we must work hard to maintain if we are to be successful.
“The municipal investment in this project sends a strong message to the men and the women of the RCMP who live in this community and serve on its front line. It is a statement to us that the citizens of Sylvan Lake area value the work they do and the risks they take to ensure public safety. The men and women of the RCMP work hard to earn and maintain the trust of citizens in communities throughout Alberta, and across Canada.
“This building stands because this community has made public safety a priority. It reflects the close bonds that exist between the RCMP and the citizens of Sylvan Lake and surrounding communities. Today, we celebrate those bonds, bonds that I know will continue to strengthen and grow.”
MP Earl Dreeshen said the building “marks a new and exciting place in the relationship with the RCMP”.
He noted just two days earlier the RCMP stood guard at the Queen’s residence, Buckingham Palace. This marked the first time a non-British, non-military unit has been tasked with guarding the ceremonial gates to the royal residence.
“All Canadians are proud of the RCMP and their presence on the world stage this week. It’s one more exceptional example of the international reputation of the RCMP.
“With these new tools and technology, may you continue to serve us with dignity and honour,” he concluded.
Honourable Jonathan Denis, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General of Alberta, said the RCMP provide a very quality police force for the province and thanked them for the sacrifices they make putting themselves at risk every day.
Following a prayer by “K” Division RCMP Chaplain Bob Harper, officials cut the ribbon and unveiled a plaque marking the occasion.
Various pictures were taken and then people adjourned inside for cake and tours of the building.
RCMP and the town’s enforcement and fire department personnel have been working in the building since last August.