College adds work camp-style dorm rooms for students here

NWCC is filling two needs with a decision to spend $400,000 on work camp-style mobile units for student housing.

Facilities Director Kelly Clarke shows off the new Northwest Community College dorms

NORTHWEST Community College is filling two needs with a decision to spend $400,000 on work camp-style mobile units for student housing, says its facilities director.

The first is that it increases its student housing stock and the second, for trades students who want to live in the units, it gives them a taste of camp life should they ever work away from home, said Kerry Clarke.

“It is very different, a very masculine environment, so we need to train people to understand what to expect when they get there,” he said of camp conditions.

Eight trailers make up the 49 co-ed rooms available and are joined together at the college’s unused ball diamond on the edge of its campus.

There’s a central  trailer with a laundry room, one large men’s washroom and eight individual washrooms.

Clarke says the idea was inspired by a conversation between himself and trades coordinator Kevin Jeffery last year.

They were lamenting the shortage of student housing in Terrace, limiting access to the college where demand often exceeded the 84 dorm rooms available.

Clarke said they knew of students who had been unable to come study and courses that have been canceled because students could not find housing.

Rental accommodations in the city began to tighten several years ago with increased activity due to preliminary work being done for potential liquefied natural gas and other projects.

As they talked, Clarke and Jeffery joked about housing students in the Valard work camp at Kitsumkalum which was being shut down at the time as work ended on BC Hydro’s Northwest Transmission Line.

“That was a lightbulb that went off,” Clarke said. “Then it kind of progressed onwards and then we thought, let’s put a camp on our campus.”

The dorms are made of refurbished trailers, which are seven years old and originally from the Alberta oil patch. Clarke says their life expectancy is 25 years and the $425 monthly room cost is the same as for the other college dorm rooms.

Each has a bed, desk, refrigerator, closet space and drawers, a flat screen television, Wi-Fi access and air conditioning.

Preference is being given, but not limited, to trades students.

The purchase and set up cost was $400,000 with $375,000 coming from the provincial advanced education ministry and $25,000 from the college.

Students in the new camp will be on the regular college food plan, will have access to covered barbecues, and can have microwaves in their rooms if they choose.

Clarke says the increased student capacity does not require changes to the college’s cafeteria service.

There’s been other work going on as well at the college, chiefly renovations to its cafeteria and also to the registration area in the college’s main building.