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Ford Road site to be home of North Cowichan's new police station

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A new police station is headed to a three-acre site on Ford Road, North Cowichan council decided Wednesday.

Buying the farmland property off Drinkwater Road for $1 million from the Van Jaarsveld family, then rezoning it for public use, needs highways ministry approval. But that is expected to be a formality.

Council's third reading arrested four years of searching, studies and sometimes heated debate about where to build the new cop shop, or whether to build one at all.

Still, all councillors but John Koury seemed satisfied other sites were identified, considered then scratched due to highway and downtown Duncan access issues, prohibitive prices, or potential flooding problems.

"My main concern about the Ford site is agricultural use," said Councillor Al Siebring. "It's some of the best farmland in the municipality. This isn't my ideal site, but we have to move forward."

Councillor Ruth Hartmann had concerns about a site that could suffer earthquake land liquifaction, but said an RCMP study found the Ford property sound — and "we have an obligation to provide a (new) police station."

The current Canada Avenue site, owned by North Cowichan taxpayers, is rat-infested, flood-prone, and too small.

Koury urged council to find another site where the police station, new Cowichan hospital, and North Cowichan fire hall could be clustered.

"Because we're spending money on land, that changes the game for me," he said, hinting purchase costs for a station on municipal land off Beverly Street, bordering Somenos Marsh, would have been zero.

Outcry from locals sunk that wetland property option. Council also mulled school board property on Beverly, and the former Canadian Tire store that meant demolition costs.

The former Hayes Logging, RONA, and Brownsey Block, sites — plus municipal works yard land — each had highway access problems.

Residents near Ford urged council to install sewer and storm water amenities, plus sidewalks.

Jay Smith asked council to install noise walls on the station to quell ventilation hums such as those from Walmart, and the new Ford dealership.

Costs to design and build the new cop shop were pending.

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