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Macleod prepares to guide growth

Fort Macleod’s successful bid for the $100-million Alberta Police and peace Officer Training Centre has not brought the town’s mayor any peace.

Shawn Patience now finds himself consumed with thoughts of how to meet the challenges that will be presented by the town’s growth.

“I’ve been waking up at 2 a.m. every night because my head is just spinning,” Patience said.

Fort Macleod is already changing with the police college announcement just two weeks old.

Council has revised its land sale policies and is beginning a review of the municipal development plan to prepare for the town’s anticipated growth.

“We’ve got an incredible amount of growth we’re about to see in our community,” Patience said. “We want to take advantage of that without losing the quality of life and the character of the town.”

Construction of the $100-million police college, which will create 75 to 100 permanent jobs and bring into town 1,500 recruits each year, is expected to boost the town’s population to 4,000 to 5,000.

Other commercial and industrial development that is on the immediate horizon, coupled with realignment of Highways 2 and 3, will also influence growth.

“That’s a challenge,” Patience said. “We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.”

One of the first projects council will undertake is developing a new residential subdivision in the northeast corner of town. Forty-six expressions of interest have already been received for the 36 lots in the subdivision’s first phase.

That interest in housing prompted council to change its land sale policy to a 45-day grace period after a 10 per cent down payment is made. Previously people had 12 months to decide whether they would build.

“Our goal is not to develop lots,” Patience explained. “Our goal is to develop property.”

That 45-day commitment period, which is common policy in other towns and cities, will be extended to commercial and industrial property to prevent speculators from tying up land.

“There are new strategic policies that are going to move us forward,” Patience said.

Patience said council also can’t waste any time changing its plan for long-term growth.

“The first thing we’ve got to do is re-develop our municipal development plan so we’re not blindly going into the future,” Patience said.

The mayor wants that document, which will invite community input, in place by the end of the year.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Dave Coutts encouraged the more than 500 people gathered Saturday night at the community hall to enjoy the celebration.

“Recognize that Monday morning our town is going to change, just a little bit because we’re going to start thinking about our place in the world,” Coutts said. “In the world, ladies and gentlemen. That’s how big this training college is going to be.”

Council will not work in isolation in changing policies and making plans to guide the town’s growth.

“We made the commitment to continue the community engagement process the whole way through,” Patience said.

The mayor was referring to the way in which a community task force was struck to prepare the bid, and residents were invited to support the project by writing letters and attending rallies.

“The task force made the commitment it will stay in place,” Patience noted. “We will have a sort of welcome wagon for the college.”

Word of community involvement is good news to Stasha Donahue, a task force member who also works in the population health department of Chinook Health.

“This whole process has enabled us to engage people to work together,” Donahue said of the college bid. “That can only be good for the health of the community in the long run.” Donahue said studies indicate social engagement is key to the long-term sustainability of a community.

“Even if we didn’t get the police college, people are now committed to our community,” Donahue said.

Patience said the presence of the college ensures a bright future for the community.

“Fort Macleod is going to prosper,” Patience said. “We are going to maintain the quality of life we have here.”

The town office is already being inundated with calls from entrepreneurs and individuals interested in relocating to Fort Macleod.

“This is not the end,” Patience said of winning the bid. “This is just the beginning.”

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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

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