Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex at the forefront of global forensic science
By Fadeke Adegbuyi
Autumn 2013 will mark the opening of the new Forensic Services and Coroner’s Complex in Downsview, Toronto. The best of its kind anywhere in the world, the FSCC will conduct work that will support the criminal justice system and public safety in Ontario. Spanning 550,000 square feet, the FSCC replaces previous offices in downtown Toronto that have become increasingly outdated and offer no room for expansion.
The state-of-the-art complex is a marvel to view, and will accommodate increased capacity for more than 2,500 autopsies and over 15,000 forensic science cases per year. “Advanced technology has been incorporated into various aspects of the new FSCC,” says a representative from the Office of the Chief Coroner. The innovation demonstrated within the FSCC, such as security systems using biometrics, will surely place the complex at the forefront of global forensic science.
The FSCC will house the Office of the Chief Coroner, the Ontario Forensic Pathology Service, and the Centre of Forensic Sciences. The co-location of the OCC, OFPS, and CFS will provide an opportunity for all three groups to work more closely and collaboratively with one another.
In addition to the operational benefits associated with moving the analysis of evidence to a central location, the FSCC also allows for the “sharing of resources in the areas of Research, Training, and Education”, says a representative from Community Safety and Correctional Services – Ontario’s lead ministry on the project. A representative from the OCC concurred stating, “The project maximizes the opportunity for both financial and service efficiency by having all program areas under one roof. Operating and managing one facility avoids the need for duplication of services that would be required for multiple facilities.”
The theme of collaboration on this project is not limited to the three units that will now call the FSCC home – the construction of the new facility was achieved through a public private partnership. In contrast with traditional delivery, the Province of Ontario’s “Alternative Financing and Procuring” utilized for this project allowed for “cost savings of $111.5 million,” a representative from Infrastructure Ontario says.
While the investment in the FSCC will pay dividends in terms of keeping Ontario Communities safe, the construction of the complex has already proved to be beneficial in the form of a boost to the local economy. Construction of the complex began August 1st, 2010 and called for the hiring of skilled workers to bring the project to fruition, with “more than 800 workers on site at the peak of construction.”
As a giant infrastructure undertaking, the FSCC project mitigates the potentially large environmental footprint by demonstrating a commitment to the environment and energy efficiency. Before commencing construction in 2010, the project underwent an environmental assessment review to ensure compliance with set environmental regulations. The project was also subject to public consultation.
A representative from OCC notes, “Creating a sustainable, energy efficient, high performance green facility was a priority.” The FSCC will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) Gold certified in accordance with the LEED Canada-NC rating system, the first forensic facility in Canada to receive this rating. Additionally, green initiatives have been implemented throughout the complex including a green roof, lights on motion and daylight sensors, high technology glass with low heat loss in winter and low heat gain in summer, and waste diversion construction practices.
Despite the nature of the work that will occur in the FSCC, staff will be exposed to a facility that is an “exciting, stimulating, and collaborative place to work,” says a representative from the CFS. The predominantly glass exterior will allow for penetration of sunlight throughout the complex. Unlike the dark and enclosed laboratory environments that are common of forensics facilities, the FSCC will boost moral and productivity through the abundance of natural light present throughout the building.
With construction ending on April 15th 2013, the building has since been open for tours to the public. However, moving all operations to the complex is still a work in progress. A representative from CFS states, “We have to apply the same level of diligence and precision to the move plan as has been used in the design and construction of the facility.”