Siksika Nation breaks ground on Crowfoot Public Safety Building
Siksika Nation has broken ground and construction is underway on its new Crowfoot Public Safety Building on the eastern side of the reserve.
Leaders say it will help improve safety by reducing response times, and the ultimate goal is to have the building also be the future home of its independent Siksika police force.
Currently, public safety and security officers dispatch from a building near Highway 547 on the west side of the reservation boundary.
"Starting from the beginning, I was one of the first. Seeing everything grow and build here is exciting," said Dustin Daniels, peace officer for Siksika.
He says since 2020, there's come to be a total of four peace officers that patrol a vast and rural landscape and he is eager for the new building, located 13 kilometres further east, to shorten the travel time for officers.
"From the west end to Bassano dam takes roughly 45 minutes for us, so being down here would cost us 25 minutes to half an hour, depending on which route we take," said Daniels.
The new public safety building will be adjacent to a former residential school site.
It's the latest building block for Siksika in self-determination.
Last summer, the nation settled a $1.3-billion land claim settlement with the federal government and committed to community improvements.
In October, Siksika established its own bylaw prosecutions office.
Leaders say they have two years left in the process to create a police service dedicated to the nation.
"Not having enough security is a problem that all reservations face on both sides of the border, and we wanted to make sure that doesn't apply here on Siksika. We want to make sure our people are safe," said Samuel Crowfoot, Siksika councillor.
With an estimated cost of $1 million, officials with MODUS, an Alberta-based modular construction company, say the building is 40 per cent complete in a pre-fabrication process.
"It will be durable, it will be solid, it will be highly functional and it will be a safe and secure place for people to congregate and be," said Allan Willms, president and CEO for MODUS.
Willms says the structure will be one-storey high and about 3,600 square feet.
Doors are expected to open this October.