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Cranbrook has a $1.7 million Saturday

Feds make funding announcements for Studio Stage Door, COTR
Following the federal government's CIIF funding announcement at the Studio Stage Door in Cranbrook

Saturday was a good day for Cranbrook, in terms of money.

The Federal government came to town and announced a cash infusion of almost $1.75 million for two initiatives, one at the Studio Door in Cranbrook and one at the College of the Rockies.

David Wilks, Member of Parliament for Kootenay-Columbia, and Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, made an announcement of $35,000 for the Studio Stage Door at noon on Saturday, and the downtown heritage building.

"We're proud to stand by organizations which play an important role in sustaining communities," Yelich said.

The funding was made under the Federal government's Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF).

"I'm proud to see Cranbrook benefit from this fund," Wilks said.

"This investment will improve the accessibility of a valued community asset."

Also on hand at the Studio Stage Door were Mayor Wayne Stetski, members of City Council and members from the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society, who serve as stewards of the more than 100-year-old building.

"CCT is honoured to be stewards of this building," said CCT, member Jennifer Inglis.

"We take that responsibility very seriously."

Stetski spoke briefly of the building's long history — "where so many of Cranbrook's actors, dancers and musicians got their start" — and the 40-year partnership between the City and CCT.

"This building has a great past, and I think it has an excellent future," Stetski said.

Peter Schalk, CCT's project manager, explained that that the funding will go towards a full renovation of the building's front lobby.

This will include retrofitting the doors and windows, new insulation and gyprock, hiding the wiring, and making the washrooms fully accessible. Schalk added that the renovations will be done according to Cranbrook's heritage standards.

Later Saturday afternoon, Yelich and Wilks arrived at the College of the Rockies, where at a similar ceremony she announced a Federal contribution of $1.7 million for the College's haul-truck training simulators, which will train entry-level workers in the mining sector.

This is on top of funding announcements made last week by the Province and Columbia Basin Trust of more than $1 million in support for the same program.

Wednesday's announcement was for over $1.1 million in investment from the government of British Columbia and Columbia Basin Trust to support the Mining Haul Truck Simulator Initiative.

The Province invested $580,000, and Columbia Basin Trust $560,000.

"This investment will help to increase the number of skilled Canadian workers available to Western Canada's booming mining sector," Yelich said.

The initiative will help train a labour force that is in high demand by the local mining sector.

Teck Coal alone anticipates hiring 3,600 people in the next five years, the majority of which start as haul truck drivers.

"For the second time in two weeks, I'm speechless at this podium," said Dr. Nick Rubidge, President and CEO of the College of the Rockies. "A huge thank you for this tremendous contribution.

"In some ways the English language is inadequate," Rubidge added. "You can only say thank you. Someone gives you a seat on a bus, you say thank you. Someone gives you $1.7 million, you can only say thank you."

Of COTR's five training simulators, two will be located at the Cranbrook campus, two in Fernie, and one will serve as a mobile unit.

Compared to training on an actual machine, simulation-based training will allow students to engage in maneuvers or operational situations that may be dangerous to perform.

"COTR anticipates that these programs will attract students from across B.C., Western Canada and beyond," Rubidge said.

He added that the program will likely launch in the fall, after further consultation with industry.

COTR has been working with Immersive Technologies, the company that developed and manufactures the simulators. Ken McBride, Regional Manager for Western Canada for Immersive Technologies, said the five simulators have been delivered and the installation process is about to begin. He said the simulators are the top-of-the-line, Pro-3 model.

Barry Coulter

About the Author: Barry Coulter

Barry Coulter had been Editor of the Cranbrook Townsman since 1998, and has been part of all those dynamic changes the newspaper industry has gone through over the past 20 years.
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