Expanded forensic lab for Mount Forest

It’s time to think  CSI: Mount Forest.

Residents in the Wellington North area will benefit from new economic development and employment opportunities with the construction of an expanded Ontario Provincial Police Forensic Identification Unit, Perth-Wellington MPP John Wilkinson announced on Jan. 30.

The unit collects, stores and analyzes evidence from criminal investigations.

“I am pleased that the Mount Forest detachment will be funded for a new state-of-the-art forensic facility,” said Wilkinson. “This new project will stimulate more economic activity in our rural community and will make Mount Forest and area a safer and even more desirable place to live.”

Mayor Mike Broomhead said, “On behalf of Wellington North council, I am pleased that the provincial government is making an investment in the public safety of Wellington North and area. We are thrilled that we will be better able to utilize this modern state-of-the-art facility. This will not only enhance our township, but the surrounding area.”

Subject to an environmental assessment, planning approv­als, and other regulatory re­quire­ments, the new building will replace the existing forensic identification unit. It will feature up-to-date amenities to support the demands of modern police operations and meet the needs of the community. The project, expected to start within 18 months, will employ local workers during the construction phase. A location for the new building will be an­nounced once it has been finalized.

“We are building modern, state-of-the-art facilities that will help the OPP better serve the people of Ontario,” said Community Safety and Cor­rectional Services Minister Rick Bartolucci.

Many existing OPP facilities have exceeded their useful life (40 to 50 years) and were not designed to meet current requirements. Since 2003, the provincial government has up­graded or replaced 35 OPP faci­lities, with another six under construction or nearing com­pletion in communities across Ontario.

The Mount Forest office is a satellite of the Wellington County OPP Detachment.

The development is part of the province’s OPP modernization project which will build new OPP facilities in 15 communities over the next 18 months.

At Monday’s council meeting, Broomhead re-announced the “terrific News. This is pretty good News, because, as we all know right across the country when we pick up a Newspaper or turn on a television, we hear signs of doom and gloom.”

Broomhead said since the closure of the dispatch centre at the Mount Forest detachment, there were concerns about its future. “We know over the years, it has employed a lot of people. The station has been an asset to our community for a lot of years.”

He added of the new building, “It’s something to be excited about.”

Councillor Dan Yake agreed.

“They’ve been talking about it for a while, it’s good to see it come through.”

In later discussion, Broom­head said the new building would be on the site of the current OPP detachment, but he was not certain it would be a brand new building or an addition to the current building.

“There’s quite a chunk of property there; even I was surprised,” he said.

Broomhead added he does not know if the cost of the new facility had been finalized.