Fort Macleod isn’t concerned with criticism of the province’s decision to build the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre here.
Mayor Shawn Patience said he isn’t surprised to hear some grumbling.
“It didn’t matter who won this, there was going to be some of that,” Patience said Saturday in an interview.
Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko’s decision has been criticized by members of both the Edmonton and Calgary police services who say the college should be in a more central location.
Patience said the government deserves praise not criticism for its decision to build the college in the southern part of the province.
“Development in the province doesn’t need to be in a corridor eight miles wide between Calgary and Edmonton,” Patience said.
Building the college in southern Alberta will give this part of the province an economic boost, he added.
“This is good for everybody,” Patience said. “They don’t need any additional pressures from growth in Red Deer, and Camrose is already experiencing phenomenal growth.”
Red Deer County, Camrose and Lac La Biche were the other finalists for the college from an original list of 30 bids.
The mayor of Crowsnest Pass also defends the decision to build the police college in Fort Macleod.
“Let’s face it,” Dr. John Irwin said Saturday. “There’s a lot of government programs that go to northern communities. We haven’t had a lot of economic stimulation from a major government program in the south.”
Irwin said the presence of the $100-million college with its estimated 75 to 100 permanent jobs and influx of 1,500 recruits each year will be good for the entire region.
“Absolutely. This was the first area of the province to be settled and it’s been kind of dwindling of late,” Irwin said. “We need some stimulation in rural Alberta. We need it in the south. I think it is absolutely fantastic the college is coming to Fort Macleod.”
Later in the evening in a speech delivered from the community hall stage, Irwin laughed that the police college is better suited to Fort Macleod with its policing history, than to the Crowsnest Pass, which is known for “bootlegging and rum-running.”
“It’s the right thing, at the right time, in the right place,” Irwin said of building the police college in Fort Macleod.
Patience also shrugged off the comments of newspaper columnists critical of the decision.
“Even the bad articles are bringing interest in the community,” Patience said.
The majority of the feedback the town office has received has been positive, the mayor added.