New OPP detachment to be built in Clinton - June 22, 2017
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Central Huron Council gave the construction of a new Ontario Provincial Police detachment in Clinton the go-ahead at Monday night’s council meeting.
The new station will be located at 325 Albert Street, which is in the north end of Clinton on the east side of the main street, across Beech Street from the newly-constructed fire station.
Representatives of the IBI Group, working with Infrastructure Ontario on behalf of the OPP, were at the meeting on Monday night to speak to the project.
Amy Shepherd from IBI said that the Clinton site is just one of nine other sites across the province that are part of a sweeping “modernization” project for the OPP’s buildings.
Due to the Clinton building being just one piece of the puzzle, Shepherd was asking for an extension on the construction deadline. The traditional timeline for such a project is 18 months, but planner Laura Young saw fit to extend the deadline to 24 months, not the 36 months the group was requesting.
Shepherd, however, spoke to council and asked for the 36-month extension, explaining that because the project includes nine sites, there are large group tenders that will need to be awarded and a massive amount of co-ordination required.
Councillors saw fit to grant Shepherd and the group their request. Deputy-Mayor Dave Jewitt said that it was likely that the group would get to the end of its 24-month period and then return to council and ask for a 12-month extension, which council would then grant because the group would be in the middle of the project and it wouldn’t make sense to stop it at that point.
The property will be zoned as a community facility with a proposed front yard setback of 19 metres, which required a three-metre setback from the initial setback of 16 metres. The site would also need a setback of one metre on its exterior side yard as well, expanding it from five metres to six.
The site will include a parking lot for the detachment’s staff and the police department’s fleet for 112 vehicles, as well as a 12-space visitor parking area.
Young also told council that the application met the requirements for a minor variance, which include meeting the intent of the Central Huron Official Plan, meeting the intent of the Central Huron zoning bylaw, the project is desirable for the appropriate development of the lands in question and it is minor in nature.
The conditions recommended for the application are that the police detachment be located within the footprint provided on the sketch in the planner’s presentation. The variance approval period was originally set for 18 months, but was extended to 36 months by council at the request of the applicant.
Council approved the application with the extended deadline.
The new Huron OPP detachment had been a point of contention that arose from discussion at a Morris-Turnberry Council meeting that led to a number of letters being written and circulated to Huron County and its lower-tier municipalities.
Goderich had made a play for the detachment, making the case that the town was full of amenities and it made sense for an OPP detachment to be located there.
This resulted in responses from councillors in other lower-tier municipalities, however, saying that the spirit of the new OPP detachment location was that it be central to the county and Goderich is anything but central.
Those letters also pointed to figures suggesting that the roads leading into Goderich, such as Highways 8 and 21, were closed more often in the winter due to unpassable conditions.
Those claims insulted Goderich representatives, who suggested bringing the Ministry of Transportation aboard to conduct a full-scale traffic study ahead of the placement of the new OPP detachment.
In the end, however, Infrastructure Ontario opted to place the new detachment in a central location within the county. The rationale is similar to the placement of the new Huron-Perth hospice location in Central Huron, saying it’s central to the county in both east/west and north/south nature, making it more accessible to all residents of the county.