Solicitor General Fred Lindsay is appealling to Fort Macleod residents for continued patience.
In a letter to council Lindsay stressed work is continuing on the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre.
“I do recognize and acknowledge the frustration your community is experiencing with respect to the length of time in which this project is unfolding,” Lindsay wrote. “As you can appreciate, an initiative of this magnitude requires detailed and thoughtful planning.”
The province announced in August 2006 it would build the college in Fort Macleod, with the first crop of 1,400 police and peace officer recruits to arrive in the fall of 2010.
Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience recently wrote Premier Ed Stelmach to express concern the police college project is not moving ahead.
“I very much tried to purvey in that letter we’re actually losing some of the benefit with the delay in this project,” Patience said at the Feb. 9 council meeting. “We need them to support it.”
In his letter to council Lindsay explained that an expression of interest for the police college was released in January 2008.
“Responses from the private sector indicated that there was no interest in assuming the risk of a new privately owned training facility in Fort Macleod without a greater commitment from the provincial government,” Lindsay explained.
Lindsay added the results of the expression of interest led his department’s special projects unit to complete a draft business case outlining options for both funding and construction.
“The business case will be forwarded to government for consideration,” Lindsay explained.
Alberta director of law enforcement Bill Meade, who is heading up the police college project, was in Fort Macleod on Saturday for the Alberta Rural Crime Watch annual general meeting.
“The long and short of it is the market challenges that we’re all experiencing, whether we’re in the oil business or the farm business or whatever business we’re in,” Meade said.
Meade said the economic downswing is the reason for the delay.
“We’re running into some significant uncertainties in the market place,” Meade said. “That’s a challenge we’re not going to shy away from, but it really is a challenge.”
Patience noted there have been discussions about the province tapping into new infrastructure money made available by the federal government.
“That does make some sense,” Patience said. “Perhaps they could find some way to make that work.”
Lindsay in his letter noted the project’s importance.
“There is little doubt that this project will indeed have an immediate benefit for the Fort Macleod region, and in the long term all Albertans will benefit from a world-class police and peace office training centre,” Lindsay added.
Patience agreed the project is important to Fort Macleod, the region and the province.
“I do know this project is very important to Fred Lindsay,” Patience added. “I know Fred is doing his utmost to get this project moving forward. It is important to everybody.”