The mayor of Fort Macleod is optimistic the police college project is moving ahead.
Shawn Patience said Friday discussions last week with the premier and solicitor general were positive.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do . . . but I’ve got a much more positive feeling,” Patience said.
Patience and councillors Sharon Monical, Susan Koots, Donna Houston, Sharan Randle and Gord Wolstenholme, along with members of the Commonwealth Group hired by council to develop a P3 partnership, met with Solicitor General Frank Oberle and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger.
They presented the proposal put together by Commonwealth to form a co-operative to build and manage the police college.
“It was a very honest exchange of information,” Patience said. “He (Oberle) had some questions about the co-op model. He has not excluded that as a possibility. He has not excluded doing this as a government project.”
The province announced in August 2006 the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre would be built in Fort Macleod to train 1,400 recruits each year.
The police college, which would create 75 to 100 permanent jobs in Fort Macleod, would also be a world-class centre of excellence providing professional development for law enforcement officials from around the world.
The project stalled when the province’s call for a private-public partnership did not attract anyone willing to completely fund the project, estimated to cost more than $200-million.
With the project stalled for close to four years town council hired the Commonwealth Group, a St. Albert-based company experienced in developing P3 partnerships.
Last month Commonwealth officials laid out plans to create a co-op to build and operate the police college.
“He (Oberle) had some concerns but at the same time was optimistic,” Patience said.
Officials from Oberle’s department will now work with the Commonwealth Group to address those concerns over the coming weeks.
While in Edmonton the Fort Macleod delegation took the opportunity to discuss the police college with cabinet ministers and MLAs.
“I think every one, to a person, was optimistic and well aware of this project,” Patience said. “Those two things haven’t happened for a while.”
Council also got from Oberle the good news he has $4-million to put a plan together to build the college.
“That’s real money and that’s really important,” Patience said.
Patience also spoke to Premier Ed Stelmach about the project.
“He was very positive,” Patience said. “The common thread throughout the week was the premier wants this done, and he wants it done sooner rather than later.”
The positive response from the politicians helped as council navigated icy Highway 2 on the trip home.
“We all came home with a much more optimistic feeling than we’ve had for a very long time,” Patience said.
Council will continue to work with Commonwealth to flesh out plans to form a co-op.
Fort Macleod officials will also follow the province’s next budget deliberations closely to see if any money is allocated for the police college.
“I think the goal of all of us – Commonwealth, council and the solicitor general – is to get this done,” Patience said. “The premier echoed that sentiment.”