Much-needed funds for more police officers have been provided in next week's ACT budget but there are growing concerns about where to house them.
All Canberra's five stations are operating either at or near capacity and the police union says the cramped, shared emergency services facility at Gungahlin is now well beyond its use-by date.
Police staffing levels cannot be increased at Gungahlin because of the restrictions imposed by the limits on secure parking, interview, muster and administration rooms, and even amenities for staff.
The ACT government has committed $33.9 million to local policing which Chief Police Officer Ray Johnson says will provide 69 more operational and support staff over the next four years, plus complete the roll-out of its "futures" project.
He said that planning was underway for one more recruit class this year from the Barton college, with the likelihood of two more classes in 2020. Each recruit class requires 14 weeks from intake to graduation.
"This is a great outcome for policing and the community," Assistant Commissioner Johnson said.
"It allows us to deliver on our futures project, which is about providing our people with new technology and equipment, and also look at our recruitment."
Among Canberra's first responders, ambulance, fire and rescue have emerged as the big winners from next week's budget, with cash allocated for preliminary design and preparations for two new shared fire and ambulance stations, one in the Molonglo Valley and another in the city.
Next week's budget also provides funds to recruit 36 new firefighters to replace retiring staff and build the workforce to keep pace with a city which Emergency Services Minister Mick Gentleman estimated to be growing at a rate of around 8000 people a year.
Police and the firefighters' unions were positive in their responses to the pre-budget announcement on Thursday but both also expressed concern about the lack of detail offered.
Police union president Angela Smith described the lack of action on a stand-alone Gungahlin police station as disappointing but the commitment on more officers would help a workforce struggling with fatigue, mental health pressures and high workloads.
"Gungahlin [station] deserves urgent attention; it's a shared facility and far too small considering the current size and expected population growth of the area just over the next few years," Angela Smith said.
"Police are now working out of a station that isn't fit for purpose and hasn't been that way since the late 2000s."
The ACT government is spending $2.2 million on a new elevated aerial appliance currently under order to replace the existing unit, and third helicopter to use for bushfire spotting ahead of the 2019-2020 bushfire season.
ACT firefighters' union brand secretary Greg McConville said that there were two positives to come out of the government announcement: an acknowledgement of Canberra's growth rate of 8000 new residents a year, and the need for the city's emergency response capability to grow accordingly.
"The fire brigade needs to grow as Canberra grows," he said
"The 36 new recruits is a good foundation but won't keep pace with the crewing requirements for the new facilities and for the major new aerial appliance," he said.