Alberta town lobbying province to make good on promise to build police college

A small Alberta town is lobbying the premier and the province to make good on a plan to build a police college in their rural community that was promised almost three years ago.

A small Alberta town is lobbying the premier and the province to make good on a plan to build a police college in their rural community that was promised almost three years ago.

Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience has written a letter to Premier Ed Stelmach requesting a “face to face” meeting later this month about the stalled $100-million project, which he says people are growing anxious about.

The letter follows a trip that Patience and a group of citizens made to the legislature last week where they discovered that some Tory members were not even aware of the plan to build the training facility in southern Alberta.

“Mr. Stelmach is more than conscious of our desire to have this project completed,” Patience said Wednesday.

“When we meet with him we will be stressing the fact that the project is vital to the future of our community. It needs his support for this to move forward.”

In August 2006, the government chose Fort Macleod as the location for the training facility from a long list of communities that vied for the project.

Construction was to begin the following year. People in the town of 3,000 celebrated how the project would bolster the local economy that doesn’t benefit much from the energy industry.

The plan was to build a facility that would train up to 400 recruits per year for police forces in Edmonton, Calgary and other Alberta communities, as well as provincial sheriffs.

In 2007, Solicitor General Fred Lindsay announced the project would be delayed until the summer of 2008. Last fall Stelmach said spiralling costs were causing further delays.

Christine Nardella, a spokeswoman for the solicitor general, acknowledged Wednesday that there is no funding earmarked for construction to begin this year.

Problems include finding a company that is willing to take part in a project that would be built and run as a public-private partnership. In a P3, governments are involved in the project but the private company is usually responsible for building and financing the operation.

In the meantime, people in the town where the North West Mounted Police established their first Western post in 1874 continue to wonder why their cherished project remains stuck in the legislature, said Emily McTighe, president of the Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce.