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September 6, 2012
Alberta Infrastructure cancels $122-million police college construction project in Fort Macleod
FORT MACLEOD, Alta.
It appears the Alberta government will pay a financial price for cancelling the long-promised police training college in Fort Macleod.
Alberta Infrastructure says it will speak with the town and the company that was awarded the construction contract for the $122-million project about covering some of their costs.
“We need to talk to the town, we need to talk with the construction company and figure those things out,’’ Jeannie Smith, a department spokeswoman said on Aug. 30.
The province has already spent almost $2 million on preliminary work on the college that was first announced in 2006 to great fanfare by the government after dozens of rural communities submitted proposals for the project in a competition.
That figure does not include the contract awarded to Bird Construction last month, or the up to $4 million the southern Alberta community says it has spent on service lines to the college building site.
Smith said it’s too early to talk about how much money is involved.
“At this time it is inappropriate to speculate. We need to meet with the town, we need to meet with the contractor,’’ she said.
“But most importantly, we need to keep in mind the interests of taxpayers.’’
The government pulled the plug on the college on Aug. 29, the day before it announced it could run as much as a $3 billion deficit this fiscal year and that revenues are down by $400 million.
Premier Alison Redford has promised to balance Alberta’s budget by 2014.
An official with Ontario-based Bird Construction declined comment on the cancellation of the police college. Building was to begin this summer and be completed by August 2014. Fort Macleod Mayor Shawn Patience said he still hopes the government will reverse its decision, but if not, the town will consider legal action to recover the money it has spent on the college.
Patience said people in the small community are shocked by the government’s move after years of promises and a ground-breaking ceremony involving cabinet ministers last August.
He questioned whether the Progressive Conservative government’s word means anything anymore.
“The government ran in 2008 and again in the last election (April 2012) on the premise of completing this training centre,’’ Patience said.
“I think the words integrity and commitment need to be redefined now. And I really think somebody needs to look in the mirror and determine what honour have you brought to the profession of being a politician in this province.’’
The Town of Fort Macleod is in the provincial riding of Livingstone-Macleod, a former Progressive Conservative stronghold that fell to the opposition Wildrose Party in the April 23 provincial election.
The government said on Aug. 29 that politics had nothing to do with its decision to cancel the college.
News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2012
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