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Police college will be built in Macleod

The provincial government has not wavered in its commitment to build the police college in Fort Macleod.

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger said Friday there is no question the college is needed, and that Fort Macleod is the right place to build it.

“It’s in Fort Macleod when it happens, and it will happen,” Berger said.

Berger predicted that was the message Fort Macleod council would receive yesterday when it met in Edmonton with Solicitor General Frank Oberle. Oberle started a fire storm Feb. 9 when in responding to his first question in the Legislature as the new solicitor general, he put both the future of the college and Fort Macleod as the site in doubt.

“The minister misspoke,” Berger said firmly. “He has apologized profusely.”

Oberle, who took over as solicitor general from Fred Lindsay, was responding to a question from Liberal MLA Kent Hehr.

Berger said the well-worded question from the Liberal MLA caught the rookie solicitor general off-guard.

“It’s never been said by the province anything but that it’s happening in Fort Macleod,” Berger stressed.

In an interview Friday at the Livingstone-Macleod Progressive Conservative Association annual general meeting in Pincher Creek, Berger stressed the delay in building the police college is due only to the downturn in the provincial economy.

“It’s a money issue,” Berger said.

The province announced in August 2006 that it would build the college in Fort Macleod to train 1,400 police and peace officer recruits each year. Estimated in 2006 to cost $110-million, the college would create 75 to 100 permanent full-time jobs in Fort Macleod.

The Alberta Police an Peace Officer Training Centre is not the only major project on hold over which the government is getting heat. New hospitals in Medicine Hat and Grande Prairie are also stalled for lack of funding. The public, as well as the MLAs for those areas, are clamouring for the government to fund those projects.

“Everybody is sick of hearing that and I don’t blame them at all,” Berger said of the response from Fort Macleod and district residents when told the government doesn’t have the money to build the college.

Berger said the government has shown its commitment to building the college in Fort Macleod by funding $7.2-million of a $9.09-million sewage treatment plant being built big enough to serve the college.

“There is no thought of it ever going anywhere else,” Berger said in response to claims by Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience the college would already be built if Red Deer had won the bid. “It’s a simple matter. Find the money.”

To that end, Berger is pressing the new solicitor general to make another call for bids for a P3 partnership to build the college. Berger said the economic downturn could work in the project’s favour, with a lower cost for materials and companies hungrier for work than they were at the height of the boom when the call first went out.

“Let’s put it out again,” Berger said.

The Livingstone-Macleod MLA is also proposing to build the college in stages in order to move it forward soon.

Berger also said people have misconstrued comments by former Finance Minister Iris Evans that the police college project is Fort Macleod’s to fund.

In a meeting with council and other officials from the region, Berger said, Evans was encouraging the town and its neighbours to use their collective leverage to move the project forward.

Berger urged Fort Macleod residents to have faith the college will be built in their town as promised.

“Fort Macleod is still it,” Berger said. “As soon as we have the money, it happens. I’ll take the word of the premier on that.”

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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