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Mayor says government just has to make college a priority

The mayor of Fort Macleod appreciated Solicitor General Frank Oberle keeping his promise to attend a public meeting on the police college. That doesn’t mean Shawn Patience is satisfied with all the answers Oberle gave more than 300 people March 23 in the Empress Theatre. “It’s not a funding issue,” Patience said in response to Oberle’s contention that is the main stumbling block.

“It is an issue of political will. If your government wanted to build this training centre it would be built already.”

Patience and some of his council were among the audience to hear Oberle make a commitment to build the police college in Fort Macleod. Patience expressed frustration the project announced in August 2006 is not yet built or under construction.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Patience said. “We are missing the boat . . . this thing makes sense. Let’s get on with it.”

Oberle agreed.

“If I was not prepared to go back to my cabinet and say exactly that, I don’t think I would be standing here tonight,” Oberle said.

Oberle maintained, however, he would not make any promises on which he can’t deliver.

Oberle said it is his intention to re-profile the police college in the next couple of months and then present it for consideration for the government’s capital list.

Patience was not pleased with Oberle’s contention the police college has to be re-profiled before it is brought forward to government to be considered for the capital plan.

The mayor urged Oberle to stick to the original plan that the college would provide training each year for 1,400 police and peace officer recruits.

“I don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves as just training police,” Patience said.

Patience said it won‘t be a problem to get other enforcement agencies on-side.

“We have a product here that can be sold,” Patience said. “It just has to be sold.”

Fort Macleod resident Sharon Brown wondered why groundwork still needs to be done.

“Why was the announcement for the college made before the work was done?” Brown asked.

Oberle said the government doesn’t have money available now that it did in 2006, so plans have to change.

“There was a plan,” Oberle said. “It was clear that plan would not work.”

Patience rejected that stand and challenged the solicitor general to make the college a priority and get some money in place for its construction.

“If you’re not prepared to do that, let’s not waste anybody’s time,” Patience said of a P3 partnership without a financial commitment from the government.

Patience said the province has to put money toward building the college to get a P3 partner.

“I can find you a company that will build your P3 if you make the lease payments,” Patience said.

Fort Macleod Coun. Brian Reach wanted to know why the police college isn’t on the solicitor general department’s published list of priorities, as it once was.

“Why is it taken off the list now, and when was it taken off?” Reach asked.

Oberle said the police college was, and remains a priority for his department, noting the project has never been on the capital plan.

“If somewhere it got dropped, it’s back on now,” Oberle said. Coun.

Trevor Curran asked if the project had the full commitment of Premier Ed Stelmach.

“I wouldn’t be here tonight if I didn’t have the premier’s blessing,” Oberle said. “The premier is behind this.”

Town of Fort Macleod economic development officer Martin Ebel contested Oberle’s position the police college has to be self-sustaining.

“Generally speaking education and training is not self-sustaining,” Ebel said. “It’s an investment.”

Oberle pointed out the police college will not have the same opportunity to charge tuition as other post-secondary institutions.

Town of Fort Macleod municipal manager Barry Elliott asked about the status of a report on work done in 2008 by the British firm Price Waterhouse Coopers to adjust the college’s operational model to make it more sustainable.

Oberle said he has never seen such a report, although he may have seen comments and suggestions from Price Waterhouse Coopers. Patience stressed his appreciation to Oberle for the chance for people to ask questions.

“We appreciate the opportunity you have given us tonight to ask questions, and put forward perhaps some of the frustration we have felt,” Patience said.

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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