No decision has been made on the fate of 54 Division’s station as a campaign for a new building continues to gain steam, a Toronto police spokesperson said this week.
Supporters of a campaign to save 54 Division want the police to allocate approved capital funds of almost $40 million to build a new station to replace the existing location at 41 Cranfield Rd. Construction of a new facility would be expected to begin in 2014.
While the police are looking into relocating the current station, Insp. Mark Barkley, second in command at 54 Division, said it was only one of three options the police are considering.
Other options, which were included in a report prepared for Police Chief Bill Blair, include closing the existing station and re-aligning the boundaries of surrounding stations and merging 54 with 55 Division and building a new station at another location.
“The report was presented to command and it’s for them to review and decide what, if anything, they want to do on the matter of 54 Division,” said Barkley.
“At this time, no decision has been made.”
Earlier this week Blair stated the police, in the face of budget cutbacks, are seriously considering a merger of 54 and 55 divisions as a way to cut costs.
Regardless of the final decision, Barkley said residents should not be worried about a decrease in service.
“It’s a station, it doesn’t mean the people are not going to be there performing the work,” he said. “It’s simply bricks and mortar.”
However, Beaches-East York Councillor Janet Davis is co-ordinating a campaign in support of a new police station she said she was concerned merging or closing 54 Division will mean a larger area for police to patrol, without the necessary resources.
“If you are going to reduce the number of officers and you’re going to expand the area people have to cover it will have an impact on service,” said Davis.
“At a certain size, there is an impact on response times.”
Davis called on Chief Blair to hold additional public consultations regarding a potential closure of 54 Division to hear from concerned residents.
“The chief is looking to pursue this direction but the community is making it clear we want to maintain our station and the same number of officers on the ground.”
Barkley said if Blair decides to close the station a further public consultation will be held. A previous community meeting on the matter was held back in November.
“There’s no point stirring people up if there’s nothing to be done with the station,” he said.