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Council works on own plan for police college

The idea of building a multi million dollar police training centre in Fort Macleod was the provincial government’s idea.

Four years after the province said it was going to build the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre, Fort Macleod town council is working on a plan to show the government how to get it done.

“We are very actively working on an option for the province to consider to not only fund but operate that facility,” Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said. “I think our efforts are paying off.”

In August 2006 the province said it planned to build a $110-million facility in Fort Macleod where 1,400 recruits would be trained each year. Four years later the sod still has not been turned as the government struggles to find a way to fund the project.

The project is stalled because the government can’t find a private partner to build the facility in the southeast corner of Fort Macleod. Fort Macleod council felt inclined to help.

“We just felt that even as the province continues to move forward, we felt it prudent that we cover all our bases,” Patience said. “It’s a bit of a different role for us but we have been diligent in our efforts to bring this project forward.”

Patience did not release any details about the plan council is developing but said it was important residents know work is going on behind the scenes.

“The fact people are not hearing a lot about the police training centre does not mean we haven’t been very industrious,” Patience said.

The alternative to build and operate the college that council is developing does not involve doing the project in phases or scaling back its scope.

“Myself and my council have never been in favour of a scaled-back version of this project,” Patience said. “The important thing at the end of the day is that the project gets built to everyone’s satisfaction.”

The mayor said he has had productive meetings with Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger this summer.

“I certainly have a higher level of optimism than I have had for a while,” Patience said.

Members of Fort Macleod council also met recently with Premier Ed Stelmach to discuss the police college.

“We had a very candid discussion about the training centre,” Patience said. “The premier is not only conscious about our efforts to help bring this project to reality, he is also conscious of our frustration.”

Fort Macleod made a huge investment in winning the bid for the college over 30 other Alberta communities and providing a 320-acre site in southeast Fort Macleod where the college is to be built. Construction of the college was to begin 18 months following the announcement in August 2006.

“I came out of the meeting with the premier very optimistic,” Patience said. “I’m hoping we hear something from the government very soon.”

Council has also been in contact with Solicitor General Frank Oberle, whose department is in charge of the police college project. Oberle has responded in writing to recent queries sent by the mayor on council’s behalf, and remains committed to the project.

“I hope that soon there is something tangible to announce,” Patience said. “I believe we’re getting there. We’ve certainly got our foot on the pedal.”

Patience said while the number of questions he fields each week about the police college has declined, there continues to be strong interest in the project.

The mayor has talked to police officials from Alberta and other provinces who support the project and are following developments. Even if an announcement is forthcoming soon, Fort Macleod residents are still years from seeing the first recruits come to town.

“It’s not going to happen in the blink of an eye,” Patience said. “The important thing is to get funding and commitments in place.”

It is expected that once the money is in place it would take three years to get the college built.

The mayor knows there are people who believe the project is dead.

“Ever since he beginning of this project there were people who were pessimistic . . . I’ve never been one of those.”

Patience wants his town to share his optimism.

“I have always believed this thing is going to happen,” Patience said. “I have never faltered from that.”

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Index of Police College Stories - Listed by release date in Gazette

Apr 24 - Fort Macleod town council is planning for the future

Jan 10 - Province gives Fort Macleod $10.26-million for police college costs

Sep 11 - Wildrose Party will fight for Fort Macleod

Sep 04 - Fort Macleod residents devastated by decision to scrap police college

Sep 04 - Fort Macleod asks premier to reverse college decision

Sep 03 - Fort Macleod calls on premier to reverse police college decision

Aug 29 - Residents of Fort Macleod punished for voting Wildrose

Aug 29 - Wildrose says Fort Macleod victim of Tory fiscal incompetence

Aug 29 - Government cancels funding for police training college

Aug 28 - Council awards police college permit

Aug 01 - Police training facility will be unique in Canada

Nov 01 - Province approves grant for police college infrastructure

Oct 19 - Target schedule is set to build police college

Sep 27 - Stakeholders convene to discuss police college

Aug 24 - Police college sod-turning ‘a great day for Fort Macleod’

Aug 16 - Police college sod-turning Mon. Aug. 22

Jul 26 - Fort Macleod puts more cash toward college

May 17 - Province moving ahead with police college plans

May 03 - Council okays transfer of police college land

Apr 05 - Police college site work could start in summer

Dec 01 - Macleod finds way to build police college

Dec 01 - Macleod pitches co-op to build police college

Nov 30 - Macleod feels positive about police college

Aug 25 - Police college partner possible

Aug 18 - Council works on own plan for police college

Jul 07 - Calgary project no threat to police college

Jun 09 - Mayor pushes solicitor general for collect action

Mar 31 - Macleod’s neighbours support police college

Mar 31 - Mayor says government just has to make college a priority

Dec 30 - MD council writes to support police college

Dec 02 - Southern Alberta backs police college

Nov 25 - Regional group lobbies for police college

Sep 23 - Police college has not been shelved — yet

Jul 29 - Mayor: ‘Police college project not cancelled’

May 06 - Infrastructure minister says college a priority

Apr 22 - Facebook page supports police college

Apr 01 - Council lobbies for progress on police college

Feb 18 - Solicitor General urges police college patience

Nov 04 - Police college discussed during Question Period

Nov 04 - Macleod mayor confident police college is coming

Oct 21 - Fort Macleod ‘anxious’ for police college start

Apr 16 - Province gets nine police college proposals

Mar 12 - Macleod can do business with police college

Sep 05 - Province reviews police college P3 proposals

Jun 26 - Police college Web site created

Jun 06 - Police college project is on track

May 30 - Police college officials visit Fort Macleod

May 23 - Police college headlines open house

Mar 28 - Solicitor General: ‘Police college is coming to Macleod’

Jan 31 - Mayor strikes police college committee

Nov 22 - Steering committee meets to discuss police college

Sep 13 - Opportunity knocking for Fort Macleod

Sep 13 - Macleod prepares to guide growth

Sep 13 - Police college is Fort Macleod’s destiny

Sep 13 - Mayor weathers police college criticism

Sep 13 - Fort Macleod celebrates successful college bid

Sep 06 - Fort Macleod lands Alberta police college

Sep 06 - P3 partners sought for police college

Sep 06 - Police training centre will be world-class

Dec 21 - Council designates land for police college

Dec 21 - Macleod’s police college bid in province’s hands

Nov 23 - Task force builds police college bid

Nov 02 - Council still pursuing college