Southern Alberta's provincially cancelled police training college isn't dead yet, as far as Shawn Patience is concerned. The Fort Macleod mayor is heading to Edmonton hoping for a resurrection of the long-planned project.
Patience and other Fort Macleod council members are going to the provincial capital this week for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association conference, where he hopes to drum up support for the police college among other municipal leaders - and land a meeting with Alberta Premier Alison Redford.
He's got the support of Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier and the Wildrose Party behind him once the legislature opens later this fall, but Patience said he and his MLA are working separately toward a common goal.
"Our goal, really, is to try to get the premier and cabinet to reconsider and re-tool this project if necessary and we're hoping to be able to meet with her to have that discussion, and if we're unsuccessful, then we've obviously got to look at protecting our community's financial interests and sitting down with them and trying to work through that," he said.
While he hasn't lost all hope in the police college, the mayor said he's also arranging meetings with Alberta Infrastructure to discuss compensation for the town in the wake of the cancellation.
Alberta announced it wouldn't pay for the $122-million Alberta Public Safety and Law Enforcement Training Centre at the end of August, six years after the government chose Fort Macleod as the site of the high-tech facility and 13 years since the province first started planning the project. Though the government first billed the centre as a way to standardize police training in Alberta, it reversed its decision to move ahead with construction, saying the training centre would have been underused and a waste of taxpayer money. According to Alberta Infrastructure, provincial coffers have contributed less than $2 million to the project. But the Town of Fort Macleod argues it's spent double that amount - to the tune of more than $4 million in municipal funds. That's the discrepancy officials hope to work out when they meet.
"We want to be prepared for all and any eventualities," Patience said.
"We're sort of taking one step at a time at this point and we want to make sure that those that may support this project are known, so we've asked other community leaders to let the premier know that this project needs reconsideration and that we'd certainly like the opportunity to speak with her about that."