The police college is not moving ahead as fast as Fort Macleod would like, but the province has not shelved the project.
Mayor Shawn Patience said Monday there has been no indication from the province the police college won’t be built as soon as funding is in place.
“No one has said it’s on hold yet,” Patience said.
Patience sought reassurance last week after Alberta Justice Minister Alison Redford told reporters the project could be delayed further by the province’s budget crunch.
The mayor said while the project may be delayed, Premier Ed Stelmach confirmed in a letter earlier this month the police college project is very much alive.
“I recognize your frustration with the length of time this project has taken,” Stelmach wrote in a letter to Patience. “However, we are committed to completing a thorough assessment of this project and future options for its successful completion.”
When Patience heard Redford’s comments last week he phoned Stelmach.
“He said, ‘Yeah, we’ll talk’,” Patience said.
Patience said Monday it is all of southern Alberta that is frustrated the police college, which was awarded in August 2006 to Fort Macleod, is not yet under construction.
“They’re going to have to step up and find a funding formula that works,” Patience said. “I think it’s time we moved this thing forward. I don’t think the need for policing is getting any less.”
The police college project has been delayed by the province’s inability to set up a private-public (P3) partnership.
“The province needs to make the financial commitment to the project,” Patience said. “Until they do they’re not going to get a P3 partner.”
When it was announced the police college, where 1,400 police and peace officer recruits will be trained every year, was estimated to cost $110-million. Projections later escalated to more than $200-million. Last week Liberal justice critic Kent Hehr blamed the lack of progress on the police college on the “incompetence” of the Stelmach government. “It looks like the Tories consider law and order to be a luxury item,” Hehr said in a news release.
The Stelmach government is forecasting a record $6.9-billion deficit this fiscal year, and a $4.4-billion shortfall next year based on finding another $2 billion in savings.
Patience said the province’s present financial woes should not slow the police college project.
“We just went through some fairly affluent times in this province,” Patience said. “The fact we hit a little bump should be no reason to turn this project around.”
Patience agreed with Hehr that Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger could be more outspoken in support of the project.
“It’s time our MLA got involved in this,” Patience said. “We haven’t heard anything from him — good or bad. It would be nice to see our MLA bring it up in the Legislature. This is the most important thing we have going.”
Town council will start a push to have the government include the police college in the 2010 provincial budget.