Back in 1983, Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano had just started erupting and pay TV was a brand-new thing in Canada, along with metric units and Fraggle Rock.
In downtown Masset, a new, angular building was just going up with futuristic, one-way windows — the RCMP detachment on Collison Avenue.
Now, for the first time in over 30 years, the RCMP building is getting a major renovation that includes a two-storey addition and a redesigned interior.
“It’s amazing that it’s going to happen,” said Sergeant Kevin Smith, who started as the new detachment commander in March.
Smith recalled how when he moved to 100 Mile in 2008, other RCMP members told him he was lucky because they were just about to break ground on a new building.
“I did six years in 100 Mile and never saw the detachment,” he said, smiling.
“It finally got built two years later.”
Expected to be completed in January with a grand opening sometime in the spring, the renovation will add about 2,700 square feet of new space, giving the nine Masset RCMP members and two staff a lot more room to work in.
Besides more office space, the renovation will bring a fourth cell and an extra exhibit room to securely identify and store evidence for court.
A redesign of the main office area will give visitors more privacy when they come in and meet the staff person at the front counter, and there will be a larger conference room, too.
“It will be great because right now whenever we have community partners come and meet, we only have four spots in the conference room,” Smith said, noting that they sometimes have to use the Old Massett band office or Masset council chambers for large groups.
“Now we’ll have room to sit at least eight people around the table.”
The current project does not include a fitness room, but Smith said there will be some room for gym equipment upstairs.
“I’m hoping we can fit that in,” he said. “The RCMP’s big push lately is fitness and mental health… there is funding there, we just have to organize it.”
Engineered to commercial grade with extra security features and a 50-year lifespan, the new addition will recycle windows and siding from the existing building, and involves safely removing asbestos.
Noel Bedard is with Technicon Industries, a general contractor based in Terrace, Kitimat and Prince Rupert that won the bid to do the renovations.
By the time it’s all done, Bedard said the project will involve some 30 to 40 workers, including local builders, electricians, plumbers as well as local equipment and concrete suppliers.
Technicon has leased a vacant building on Main Street for office space and a staging ground, and it’s also renting three houses in town to house the many visiting tradespeople, some of whom specialize in high-security buildings and will fly in from Vancouver.
“Everybody’s excited to come out here,” said Bedard, adding that he hopes to see the beach and explore some of the island when he’s not working.
If the long, sunny days of June continue into July, Bedard will have to keep a close eye on island time.
“That’s actually a problem,” said Bedard, laughing.
The crew got started just as Masset was enjoying 17-hour days of straight sun.
“I had some friends here camping and I thought, ‘Oh, it’s starting to get dark, I should go to bed because I’ve got to work early. Then it was ‘Argh, it’s midnight!’”