The shovels are officially in the ground on the renovation and expansion of the Guelph Police Service headquarters.
Following the completion of some surrounding infrastructure work, the three-year, $34.1 million project got its official launch Thursday with a sod-turning ceremony in front of the building.
Mayor Cam Guthrie said the new building is a need, not a want.
"In the last term of council we were presented with a very clear business case that if we did not go ahead with the renovation project then it would end up costing the taxpayers even more money if it was delayed," Guthrie said in an interview Thursday at the event.
The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2019.
"In a growing city that we have we need to make sure that we have the capacity for the need we have and to be able to grow into the building," Guthrie said.
He said the city has "learned lessons from other capital projects" in making sure this and future capital projects are done properly and on budget.
Police Chief Jeff DeRuyter is the third chief to have the project on his desk.
"It's a significant investment, but moving forward we need to make sure the community needs are met in how we provide services," DeRuyter said.
"There's many aspects of policing that have changed and we have to respond to risk management and liability. We need a building that adapts and responds to that."
There are roughly 250 uniformed officers and civilians that work at the headquarters.
The reno involves the gutting and retrofitting of the interior of the existing building and the construction of two new wings.
The new west wing will be four stories tall and includes two floors of indoor parking, a third floor for offices and a fourth floor for future growth. It will be possible in the future to add two more stories if needed.
The new east wing will be the building's new main entrance and include a community-use room.
Improvements include everything from enhanced security to new locker rooms, lunch room and fitness room.
City CAO Ann Pappert said the project is the first city project to fall under the city's new project management standards.
"Greater governance, oversight, communications and reporting of Guelph's capital projects is a reflection of our commitment to be more open and accountable," Pappert said.