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Fort Macleod residents devastated by decision to scrap police college

Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience on the site of the Alberta Public Security and Law Enforcement Training Centre. In the background are buildings and equipment at the base camp of Bird Construction Co., which was awarded the contract by the province to build the training centre.

The construction contract awarded, the design completed, the development permit issued, utility lines were being placed and construction crews were on site.
Although the $122-million Alberta Public Security and Law Enforcement Training Centre project was — finally — well under way in Fort Macleod, that didn’t stop the provincial government on Wednesday from stopping work.
Justice Minister and Solicitor General Jonathan Denis in a news release cancelled the project after learning Calgary and Edmonton police forces and the RCMP would not use the training centre in Fort Macleod.
“I take no pleasure in this at all,” Denis said. “At the same time, I’m responsible to be a good steward of the tax dollar. To proceed with this project would be throwing good money after bad because you would have an under-utilized project in a smaller centre.”
The unexpected news sent shock waves through Fort Macleod.
“It’s like a death in the family,” said former Town of Fort Macleod economic development officer Gordon MacIvor, who was intensely involved in the town’s successful bid to be chosen in 2006 by the government as the site of the college. “There is a real sense of loss.”
Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience was stunned.
“How can an initiative 13 years in the making be destroyed in a snap decision?” Patience said. “Was 13 years of Progressive Conservative leadership in this province that misguided?”
Patience pointed out the need for the police college was identified during the province’s 1999 Justice Summit and the need for standard training for police and peace office recruits is well-established.
“The fact the Edmonton and Calgary police forces support this decision is extremely disappointing, to say the least,” Patience said. “Their pleasure in this decision is disgraceful and we are embarrassed for those who stood to support it.”
Business owners and residents also harshly criticized the provincial government.
“When is a deal not a deal?” Bernadette McNab of McNab Realty said. “Discussion about whether to build or not build in Fort Macleod should have ended, once and for all, a long time ago. If the leader of our government showed strong leadership, I believe, things would have fallen into place.”
McNab voiced the opinion also put forward by many Fort Macleod residents following the decision.
“Where is the honour, integrity and courage to do the right thing that we should see exemplified in our elected representatives?” McNab asked.
First awarded to Fort Macleod by the province in August 2006, the long-delayed project finally gained momentum in February 2011 when then-Premier Ed Stelmach announced the government would build the facility, and that money was in the budget.
The government in July 2012 selected from a short list of companies bidding for the contract Bird Design-Build Construction.
Later that month Stantec Engineering Ltd. released its design for the campus, and then on Aug. 27 town council approved the development permit.
The project’s unexpected demise began in July when Denis received a letter from the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police.
“The letter questioned the utility of the project,” Denis said Friday in a telephone interview. “After that I went and solicited some further opinions from them individually.”
“It was almost universal that the project would be under-utilized,” Denis added. “I looked at the price tag of $120.7-million and I unfortunately I couldn’t justify the expense, given that Calgary, Edmonton and the rural RCMP represent 94 per cent of the recruits we have every year.”
The province’s plan was to train 1,350 police and peace officer recruits each year at the police college, which would employ about 75 to 100 people in full- and part-time jobs.
Denis would not go into detail why the police forces raised the issue so late in the process.
“We needed to move quickly if this was the case,” Denis said. “I wanted to know some specifics as to why they were making their comments. But I received a letter in July and we acted on it.”
Denis said as minister of justice he couldn’t order the police chiefs to train in a facility at Fort Macleod.
“Calgary has its own facilities, RCMP go to Regina, Edmonton has its own facilities,” Denis said.
Although the RCMP always planned to train recruits at Depot in Regina, there had been talk the Mounties would do some training in Fort Macleod.
“They indicated they might use the college for some specific exercises,” Denis said.
Denis on Friday backed up comments made the day before by Finance Minister Doug Horner the cancellation of the police college was not related to a potential $3-billion provincial deficit.
“That is correct, yes,” Denis said.
Denis said money budgeted for the police college project will not be redirected to the training centres in Calgary and Edmonton
Denis also said Premier Alison Redford was consulted on the decision to shut down the police college project.

2 Comments For This Post

  1. Randy Brown Says:

    Maybe somebody should have a look at the Fire Training School in Vermillion, AB. It is in a small town remote from both Calgary & Edmonton. This school manages to attract firefighters & Safety Codes Officers from Calgary & Edmonton even though they both have their own training facility. They also attract firefighters from all over the world due to the courses they offer.

  2. chris hodnett Says:

    this just goes to prove to us all, what liers and jerks we have voted into our political system. plus these politicians are all idiots to boot.

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