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

Minister Ray Danyluk

Alberta Infrastructure Minister Ray Danyluk operated a trackhoe Monday to turn the sod to mark the start of construction of the $122-million Alberta Public Security and Law Enforcement Training Centre in Fort Macleod.

The Alberta government promised in August 2006 it would build a police college in Fort Macleod.
The government took another step toward delivering on that promise Monday with the turning of sod at the 320-acre site just off Highway 2.
“I think it means a great deal to Albertans that their government keeps their promises and displays that kind of integrity,” Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said.
Hundreds of people turned out Monday morning for the sod-turning ceremony for the $122-million Alberta Public Security and Law Enforcement Training Centre.
Provincial officials used two trackhoes to turn the sod following a ceremony that included a Blackfoot blessing.
“When I look out over the crowd today, I think I can actually see people pinching themselves,” Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger said. “They’re having a hard time accepting that this day is finally here.”
The police college was to be built and operating by now when the government announced in August 2006 that Fort Macleod was the site, following a bid process that involved communities across the province.
The project languished for five years as the government failed to attract a private investor willing to build the college.
“I have been wondering what I would say when this actually happened,” Patience said. “Lord knows, I had a long time to think about it.”
Patience was referring to the five-year wait Fort Macleod has endured for the sod-turning ceremony since the government decided the college would be built here.
“We had no idea what we were in for,” Patience said. “I sure didn’t.”
Fort Macleod winning the bid in 2006 was announced with great fanfare and created a mood of optimism in the community.
That optimism gave way to frustration as the government failed to attract a public-private partnership with anyone willing to fund construction on their own.
“I’m standing here with some mixed emotions,” Patience said. “This has been such an up and down roller coaster.”
The project gained new life in February when Premier Ed Stelmach came to Fort Macleod to announce there would be $122-million in the budget for the police college.
Berger said the project took longer than expected, but will be worth the wait.
“It’s been a long time coming, but all good things are worth the wait,” Berger said. “I think this will be that good thing that southern Alberta will say in the future was well worth the wait. It will be of benefit to all of us.”
Solicitor General Frank Oberle, who in March 2010 promised to get the project back on track, agreed.
“It’s a great day for Fort Macleod, southern Alberta and the whole province,” Oberle said.
The plan is to train 250 police recruits, 250 Sheriffs and Corrections officers, 250 community peace officers and 600 professional development students each year.
The plan in 2006 was to train 400 full-time recruits and 1,000 professional development students each year.
The college will include a residence that can house 270 students. That’s down from the capacity of 380 students in the original plans.
The facility will include classrooms, indoor and outdoor firearm ranges, a driving track, gymnasium, running track and eating facilities.
Infrastructure Minister Danyluk assured people there is considerable work going on behind the scenes, including finalizing plans to provide utility service to the site, geotechnical investigations and design planning.
“We’re going to be calling for proposals of the building this fall,” Danyluk said. “You will see the earth starting to be moved very quickly.”
Danyluk said a contract for construction will be in place early next year and construction will be complete in 2014.
“This is going to be a first class training facility,” Danyluk said. “It isn’t just for one aspect, it’s for many different interest groups to be able to use.”
Oberle said the police college will be used to train peace officers and police recruits from across Alberta.
In addition, police and peace officers will come to Fort Macleod for professional development courses.
Oberle said discussions are ongoing with police departments in Alberta cities, and with the RCMP.
“The RCMP has already committed that they want to use this facility,” Oberle said.
Oberle said training all of Alberta’s police and peace officers at a central location is part of the new vision for policing in the province.
“That’s what Alberta policing is about — integration and co-operation,” Oberle said.
Patience stressed the sod-turning ceremony while important, is just one more step on a long journey.
“In the sod that we’re about to turn today, we’ll be planting the seeds of prosperity of this community and this region well into the future,” Patience said. “It’s never a given. A seed, like anything, needs to be nurtured, it needs to be cared for and we’re not going anywhere. I know this community is not going anywhere. It’s been engaged in this process from Day 1. That’s why we were successful in the beginning, and it’s why we are successful today.”
Patience credited council members, Town of Fort Macleod staff, the public, community groups and even the press for keeping the project moving ahead.
Patience presented Oberle and Danyluk with framed prints of the Town of Fort Macleod office, which Danyluk had previously admired.
Blackfoot elders Devlin Small Legs and Maurice Little Wolf blessed the land on which the police college will be built.
Little Wolf said the arrival of Oberle and Danyluk at the ceremony by police cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring, made him think of 137 years ago when the Blackfoot Brave Dog Society guided the first North West Mounted Police troop to the area.
Little Wolf said the peace treaty intended the white settlers and the Blackfoot to keep the peace, respect one another, raise their children together and work together.
“Today I ask you, as my brothers and sisters, that we continue this unity for our future generations,” Little Wolf said. “The people who are here today represent the future generations, that they have a better turn in life, unity and with love.”
Small Legs and Little Wolf had Fort Macleod and government officials spread tobacco on the ground, following a Blackfoot prayer.
Berger and Danyluk then climbed into trackhoes to turn the sod, and then took up shovels to join Fort Macleod officials in another symbolic ceremony.
“The future of Fort Macleod and all of southern Alberta just got a little brighter today,” Berger said.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. sharon brown Says:

    Finally, after five years’ delay, the government want me and Fort Macleod residents to get excited about a sod turning. I think I’ll hold my cheers until the facility is up and operating. Between sod turning and the next step, who’s to say thee won’t be another lengthy delay? Shame on you, Mr. Stelmach!

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