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Bill for new police radio system reaches $5.2 million

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Troy Shantz

Providing Sarnia Police with a new radio communication system is costing much more than expected.

City council approved an additional $821,700 to complete the three-year upgrade on Jan. 21, bringing the total cost to $5.23 million.

An unforeseen need for new radio towers, higher engineering costs and an additional $110,000 in consulting fees, which now total $315,000, have added to the overrun.

Three of the city’s radio towers aren’t big enough to handle the new technology and need to be replaced with higher and stronger ones, the consultant, Palidor Radio Communications, has determined.

One roughly 50-metre tower earmarked for the fire hall near the intersection of Telfer Road and Blackwell or nearby Camp Saredaca has proven contentious with neighbours because of its height.

But not putting the one tower in that area would affect radio coverage and require two towers near Lake Huron, adding another $500,000 to the bill, consultant Fred Palidor told city council.

“We’ve already reduced the height to minimize the impact,” he said.

A contract to build the radio towers for $701,000 was awarded to Spectrum Communications Inc., the same firm that’s providing the rest of the police communication system.

It includes new radio handsets for officers, dispatch consoles, transmitters and receivers, and wireless links to replace copper wires currently in place.

Despite the hefty price tag the new system is “nothing extravagant,” Palidor told council.

“It’s much larger in scope then the previous system, but the previous system had a lot of problems,” he said, noting the currently spotty radio reception in some areas.

The extra money approved last week will come from a city reserve, with Sarnia Police paying it back from its budget over the next two years.

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