Officials from across southwestern Alberta are in Edmonton today lobbying the province to build the police college with money from Alberta Capital Bonds.
A delegation led by Fort Macleod town council is meeting with Finance Minister Iris Evans and Solicitor General Fred Lindsay.
“We’re going to show regional support for the police college project,” Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said. “We’re going to show the Legislature this is a regional project and we’re all committed to it, and now we need (the government) to be committed to it.”
Mayors, reeves and other officials from across the south boarded a bus Tuesday night for Edmonton.
The delegation meets at 12 noon Wednesday with Evans and Lindsay and then will be introduced in the Legislature in the afternoon by Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger.
“We have been extremely patient on this issue,” Patience said. “Now it’s time to express that the police college is not just important to Fort Macleod, it’s important to southern Alberta.”
Patience, councillors Sharon Monical, Brian Reach, Christine Trowbridge and Gord Wolstenholme, economic development officer Martin Ebel and municipal manager Barry Elliott will represent Fort Macleod. Providing regional support for the police college are MD of Willow Creek Reeve Henry Van Hierden, Claresholm Mayor Rob Steel, Granum Mayor Melva Stinson, Pincher Creek Mayor Gary Mills, Crowsnest Pass Mayor John Irwin, Stavely Mayor Barry Johnson and Coalhurst Mayor Dennis Cassie. Also making the trip are Blood Tribe Chief Charles Weasel Head, University of Lethbridge president Tracy Edwards and Economic Development Lethbridge chief executive officer Cheryl Vick.
“I can’t thank these people enough,” Patience said. “This is something they’re doing in the spirit of regional co-operation.”
The province announced in August 2006 that it would build the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre in Fort Macleod.
Plans at that time were to have the first class of recruits attending the college in the fall of 2010.
The province planned to train 1,400 police and peace officer recruits each year in Fort Macleod, with the college providing 75 to 100 full-time jobs.
The project has stalled since the province could not find a P3 partner and the Alberta economy took a downturn.
The southern Alberta delegation will pitch to Evans and Lindsay the idea of using Alberta Capital Bonds to build the college, which is estimated to cost $200-million.
“We think now is the time to firmly plant that seed and see if it bears any fruit,” Patience said.
Premier Ed Stelmach earlier this year proposed using Alberta Capital Bonds to fund infrastructure projects.
Patience said in the 3 1/2 years since the police college project was awarded to Fort Macleod, the town has done its part.
Fort Macleod committed up to $3.5-million to build the infrastructure the college will need, it has committed a half section of land and invested considerable time and effort.
“We have shown our commitment,” Patience said. “We now need the province to fulfill its part of the project.”
Fort Macleod council decided a show of regional support is needed to convince the government to take some action.
“We’re doing everything we can as far as a council goes,” Patience said. “I think all of us are still fairly confident the training centre is going to get built. We just have to move it along.”