AMHERST – The Amherst Police Department may be looking for a new home a little sooner than thought.
A massive fire in the downtown core overnight Sunday and into Monday has forced the department to relocate, at least temporarily, to the Amherst Fire Department.
“The decision was made very early on that we would have to evacuate the building,” Deputy Chief Ian Naylor said. “Thanks to the quick thinking of the fire department we were given the heads-up that we would have to move and we were able to move fairly quickly to the fire department.”
Naylor said the department has suffered extensive smoke damage to the main floor while there are a couple of metres of water in the basement where offices are located along with exhibit storage.
The deputy chief was quick to thank the efforts of the town’s IT staff and Aliant for assisting with the move so the police department’s operations were only minimally affected.
Operations, he said, were running smoothly by early afternoon with a dispatch centre established and the computer system up and running.
The department is working with the RCMP for lock-up facilities.
Because of the move, Naylor said, there will be a limit on walk-in operations. For the next few days, a receptionist will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other calls can be made to 667-8600 while emergency calls, as usual, should be made to 911.
It’s unknown how long the department will be displaced.
Amherst CAO Greg Herrett said a full assessment and decision will be made on the department’s location in the coming days.
“We were fortunate in that we are able to pick up accommodations at the fire hall and through some people who went above and beyond we were able to get everything up and running,” Herrett said. “That’s a very temporary arrangement and we’ll be looking at options to house them on a temporary basement until we get that assessment done.”
Herrett said town staff will be meeting with officials from the Cumberland Public Libraries to discuss possibly locating the department in the top floor of the Four Fathers Library, where the adult high school was located.
Other options will be considered as well.
Incidentally, the police department was being considered for a move with the town looking at the idea of moving some of the operations to the existing town hall and leaving the remainder of the department in the Victoria Street quarters. It’s not known how the fire will impact the town’s decision.