Calgary

Fort Macleod struggles a year after police college cancelled

A year after the Alberta government cancelled plans to build a $120-million police training college in Fort Macleod, the southern Albertan town still doesn't know what the future holds.
An artist's illustration shows what the police college would have looked like. The project was cancelled. (Handout)

A year after the Alberta government cancelled plans to build a $120-million police training college in Fort Macleod, the southern Albertan town still doesn't know what the future holds.

The solicitor general pulled funding last year for the college project in the historic town that once served as headquarters for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, saying the province's police forces didn't see the value.

The project had been in the works since 2006, when the announcement sent property values soaring in the town of 3,000. 

"When the announcement was made that we are getting the college there was a lot of speculation. People coming in from the city and buying up revenue properties," says veteran real estate agent Marc McNab.

The construction contract was awarded, but the college never got further than a ceremonial sod turning.

"Now they are left holding these properties," he said. "We're seeing there is still an active market for the lower priced, more affordable homes. But for the higher priced – the newer homes – the market is quite delicate. There just aren't a lot of buyers in that price range."

Town still bruised

The province compensated the town in January with $10 million for the infrastructure improvements and land purchases made in anticipation of the project. But the mayor, Shawn Patience, said town people are still upset about the decision.

"You know I think there's still a little bruising," he said. "The goal for us now is to really try and make the best of the opportunity that cancellation has given us and I think that's all we really can do."

Fort Macleod officials are now trying to convert the site of the proposed police college into an industrial park.