Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What's being built by the VCC Clark Skytrain Station

Remember the very active volleyball area that used to be right beside the VCC Clark Skytrain station? As you came down the escalator you could watch a bunch of games going on at once. Then nearly a year ago the games left and construction started. For months, we were treated to the noise of pile drivers from early in the morning until evening. I was hoping that this might be construction of a link between the two sky train lines, Millennium and Expo, which come so close to each other at this point you could almost sail a paper airplane across.

But no. Today, looking from the top of North China Park to where the yellow crane was towering, I could see the skeleton of a building coming up there. As someone sensitive to the loss of public views, I feared another Hong Kong style skyscraper could be rising between the park and the mountains; so I walked the dogs down the hill and along the sidewalk between the fish plant and the Shaw service truck parking-lot, to see if there was any identifying sign. (The dogs loved the whiff of rotten fish.)

Thanks to Harper's obsession with signage on federally-funded projects, there certainly is a sign. Two signs, actually - one of the infamous ones about your federal dollars creating economic stimulus, and one that states simply "Police Property Office and Forensic Storage Facility." I repeated that all the way home until I could make a note of it and check the internet.

Search result: despite the sign touting federal money, the project is actually being funded with $10 million from the fed, $10 million from the province, and $10.3 million from the city for a total of $30.3 million. Of course, all three are our tax dollars. Ottawa has said it will only pay invoices for work completed by March 31, 2011. Since the province and city also have funds in this project, hopefully they are presenting Ottawa with the first $10 million (probably just about enough to cover the rebar already in place). Since the other levels are capping their contributions at $10 million each, if there are cost overruns, the city will presumably end up paying that bill.

The scope of this project, as found in a backgrounder online is that it will be a new, consolidated facility of 65,000 square feet "for receiving, storage and safekeeping of found and seized property and evidence, and the construction of vehicle forensic laboratories and associated storage." While "forensic" sounds like a morgue, I don't see any evidence that people bodies will be there - just auto bodies. I wonder if the proximity to the railroad tracks is intended to be useful for bringing vehicles in and out.

Given the square footage listed and the dimensions of the building, I think that the steel skeleton you can see now is likely pretty close to its full height - so, not a view-blocker. And there may yet be room in that railroad corridor to join the two Skytrain lines, giving a direct way from VCC Clark to downtown.