The College of the Rockies will be building a new $10 million trades training facility that will begin construction in the spring and open in the fall semester of 2018.
The facility, funded with $4.2 million from the federal government, $3.8 million from the province, $1 million from COTR and $1 million from the Columbia Basin Trust, will support 43 new full time spaces for electrical, millwright and heavy-duty equipment programs, for a total of 325 spots.
“I would like to express my appreciation for the funding provided by the federal and provincial governments for this new trades building,” said David Walls, COTR president and CEO. “The addition of this new facility will allow us to further expand our ability to provide trades’ training that helps our students to reach their goals, secure careers in high-demand fields and to serve the needs of our communities and industry partners.”
Much of the training for those three trades programs occurs at a facility near Gold Creek, which is a satellite campus from the main institution inside the city. The new facility will complement the Gold Creek campus and allow students to get the
necessary training they need around other COTR amenities.
Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett spoke on behalf of the B.C. Liberal government, noting that the plan to build the new training facility had been in the works for roughly four years.
“The new facility will not only improve the education of people who come here, but it will also give us an additional 43 spaces so there will be more room for people who want to stay in the region and train here.”
Bennett stressed the importance of having proper training facilities to allow local students the option of staying home to complete their education as opposed to moving outside the area to the Okanagan, Lower Mainland or Alberta.
“If you stay here, you can live at home — even if the kid doesn’t want to, it’s a lot cheaper for mom and dad — and you can get the trades training that you want here,” said Bennett, “or if you want to work on a degree, you can get the first two, three and — in one case — four years of a degree program, so it’s been an important thing to see the College of the Rockies develop so that a lot more of our young people have the choice of staying here.”
Other dignitaries present at the announcement included Rick Jensen, the chair of Columbia Basin Trust board of directors, CBT president and CEO Johnny Strilaeff, Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt and COTR board of governors chair Wilda Schab, who read a statement from Navdeep Bains, the Federal Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Two COTR students also spoke about their excitement of getting trades training in Cranbrook and what the new facility will mean for their education moving forward.
With construction expected to break ground in April, the building will be 1,800 metre-squared (19,400 square feet) with a 3,400 metre-squared trades yard. The building will have an engine lab for the heavy-duty equipment mechanic and technicians and automotive-service technician programs.
It will also be designed to LEED gold standard to be as energy efficient as possible.