The prospect of landing a new hotel has convinced Lacombe city council to find an alternate site for a new police station.
A Michener Park site had been earmarked for the proposed station, which is expected to cost around $7 million to $8 million and is scheduled to be built next year.
However, since that three-acre site was selected last fall a hotel developer came calling with eyes for the same location.
Lacombe Police Service and city staff went looking for a second-best option rather than risk losing out on a hotel, which has long been on the community’s wish list.
On Monday night, council directed administration to go ahead with development of the police station on a 2.8-acre site now used as the city’s snow dump east of Hwy 2A at Wolf Creek Drive and 53rd Avenue.
In the meantime, staff will continue to negotiate with the unnamed hotel group to try to seal that deal.
Lacombe Police Chief Steve Murray told council that while the Michener Park site was the best location for the police station “we also have to think big picture.”
Holding on to that choice spot for the police could mean missing out on the hotel, which is something that is also needed.
While there have been questions raised about the risk of locating the station east of the railway tracks on the opposite side of most of the city’s homes and businesses, Murray doesn’t see that as a major issue.
There are multiple crossings and he has never seen all of them blocked by rail traffic at the same time, he told council.
Coun. Grant Harder said that with much future growth forecast for east of the highway, in 25 years council might “look like geniuses” for locating the station on that side of Hwy 2A.
Lacombe police are looking for a new home because the force of nearly two dozen officers and civilian staffers have outgrown the present location at 5211 50th Ave., which has been the station since the 1950s.
The new station will be a single-storey building with additional work spaces, meeting and training areas, storage, interviewing, exhibit, victims assistance, community consultation and cell space.