The fate of the Progressive Conservative Party rides on the police college, two Tory MLAs were warned March 23.
Unless construction starts soon Solicitor General Frank Oberle and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger won’t be around for the sod-turning ceremony, Allan Park said.
“I don’t think you’re going to be in government much longer,” said Park, a Fort Macleod resident. “We’ve got another party we can support.”
Park was among more than 300 people at the Empress Theatre on March 23 to grill Oberle on the fate of the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre.
Park, who was the second person to the microphone after Oberle’s address during which he reaffirmed his commitment to build the college in Fort Macleod, said people are already looking at alternatives such as the Wildrose Alliance Party.
“We don’t want all this beating around the bush,” Park said. “We want answers. And we want them now.”
Fort Macleod resident Bruce Falconer agreed, noting people in western Canada believe a handshake and a promise is all that is needed to seal a deal.
“Promises should be fulfilled,” Falconer said.
Falconer suggested the government should dip into the Heritage Trust Fund for the money to build the college.
Oberle rejected that idea.
“That fund was intended for future generations,” Oberle said. “We are not, under the watch of this premier, going to spend the Heritage fund.”
Town of Fort Macleod economic development officer Martin Ebel argued in favour of spending some of the Heritage Trust Fund on the police college. “The way I see it, the police college is a benefit to future generations,” Ebel said. “This isn’t something that will just be here for one or two years.”
Cathy Dietrich, another Fort Macleod resident, wondered if it was the practice of the Progressive Conservatives to make promises it was not prepared to fund.
“We in Fort Macleod took government — your government — at its word that this (college) would be built and opened by 2010,” Dietrich said.
Dietrich told Oberle Fort Macleod has shown its commitment to the project by offering 320 acres of land on which the college could be built. The Town of Fort Macleod is building a $9.3-million sewer treatment facility that will serve the college, and has committed another $3.5-million to provide utilities to the property.
The Town of Fort Macleod has also spent more than $100,000 on proposal development, municipal planning and engineering.
“We have put our heart and soul into believing a promise that has not been kept,” Dietrich said.
Martin Ebel asked Oberle if the police college will be built before the next provincial election.
Oberle said he doesn’t know when the next election will be called, and can’t predict when the money will be available.
Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience urged Oberle to return to Edmonton and tell his colleagues the police college is a necessity.
The mayor told Oberle to share another message.
“It’s important for this government to be seen as a government with integrity that keeps its promises to people,” Patience said.