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Thursday, 01 September 2011 11:43

RCMP training centre breaks ground at long last

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By Jamie Woodford
Fort Macleod
It was a day many Fort Macleod residents weren’t sure would ever arrive, but as Livingstone-Macleod MLA Evan Berger said, “all good things are worth the wait.”

Berger spoke Aug. 22 at the official sod turning for the Alberta Public Safety and Law Enforcement Training Centre first proposed by the provincial government in 2004.

The announcement of the site, set south of Fort Macleod on Highway 2, came in 2006.

“When I look out over the crowd today, I think I can actually see people pinching themselves. They’re having a hard time accepting that this day is finally here,” said Berger.

“The future in Fort Macleod and southern Alberta just got a whole lot brighter this morning.”

The police training college will be equipped with indoor and outdoor gun shooting ranges, aerial-based training, driver training and simulations. Its months-long programs are expected to train up to 1,400 full-time equivalent students per year.

Construction is slated for 2012 and is anticipated to be complete by 2014.

Resident Joan Isberg had her doubts the facility would become a reality, but she’s happy the police college is finally underway.

“We’re counting on it,” she said. “Just to bring more things to the town (so that) we aren’t stalemated — we’re here thriving.”

Another resident John Arnoldussen expects the new facility will help the community expand.

“You’re going to see some development happening in Fort Macleod right after this because of the hole already dug over there. It’s a positive thing,” he said.

John Van Driesten had a slightly different view as the view from his window at home will literally be changing. He lives across the street from where the college will be built.

Although he’s not sure if the facility will negatively affect his property views of the rolling prairies, Van Driesten said as a whole, the police college will be good for the community.

“It’s a life saver for the town. Without it, this town would slowly dry up a bit,” he said. “It’s absolutely the best for the town. It’s a huge boost.”

Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience was likely one of those in the crowd pinching himself after facing “a roller coaster” of emotions over the long-awaited project.

“I have been wondering what I would say when this actually happened. Lord knows, I had a long time to think about it,” he said to a chuckling audience.

“We’ve come a long way to get there today. I know we had no idea in August of ‘06 ... what we were in for. I sure didn’t.”

Speaking on the five-year wait to see some action on the project, Patience said the delay did slow what could have been growth in 2007 and 2008.

“Obviously everything happened a lot slower than we had anticipated,” he said.

“This has been a long, fairly arduous process. Very hard on all of us personally.”

However, the mayor is ready to focus on what’s ahead for the college and what it will do for the small town.

“In the sod that we’re about to turn here today we’ll be planting the seeds for the prosperity of this community and this region well into the future,” he said, adding success is never a given.

“A seed, like anything, needs to be nurtured and needs to be cared for, but we’re not going anywhere and I know this community is not going anywhere. They’ve been engaged in this process from day one, that’s why we were successful in the beginning and it’s why we’re successful today.”

Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security Frank Oberle and Minister of Infrastructure Ray Danyluk were also in attendance.

Each fittingly arrived in a police cruiser complete with sirens wailing and lights flashing.

“This is going to be a first class training facility, and that isn’t just for one aspect, it’s for many different interest groups to be able to use,” said Danyluk.

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