College longhouse remains as is

Northwest Community College will not be converting its longhouse at the Terrace B.C. campus to another purpose.

  • Nov. 27, 2016 7:00 a.m.

The Wapp Galts’ap longhouse at Northwest Community College will be kept as a gathering and meeting place for students and community members.

NORTHWEST COMMUNITY College won’t be converting its longhouse at its Terrace campus to another purpose while it embarks on an extensive renovation of its trades building.

The Waap Galts’ap longhouse, originally intended as a meeting place for students and for cultural and other events, was being considered for a potential temporary library or other purpose, but the idea drew opposition from students and others.

The decision to leave the longhouse as it is was announced Nov. 22 by college president Ken Burt, and comes while administrators craft a plan to continue offering trades programs during the two-year $18.4 million renovation of the trades building.  It’ll mean moving portions of trades programs out of the building to other places at the campus.

“We want to assure community members that the gathering space in the main hall of the longhouse will remain available for cultural and student-centered programming during the renovation of the trades building and into the future,” said Burt in response to opposition to any plan to convert the longhouse into another use.

“In addition, NWCC is undertaking policy development to clearly define what purposes Waap Galts’ap may be used for into the future. This policy will provide clear direction to staff and the greater community about how the space may be used for student-centered, cultural and educational purposes,” said Burt.

The news was welcomed by the college students’ union which had organized a petition and  made presentations opposing a change in the longhouse use.

It felt the longhouse location on the edge of the campus wasn’t suitable for reasons of student safety and that its large meeting room wouldn’t easily accommodate books and reading and study areas, said Lenda Girard, the organizer for the Northwest Community College Students’ Union.

“It just wasn’t ideal. There wouldn’t have been a computer lab and the space is very echoey,” she said.

With the longhouse now off the table, Girard said students will now concentrate on being involved in keeping the library intact, now located in the basement of the main college building.

“There are options being presented but we want to be involved in new options. They need to include us,” she said.

Students became worried when the college began thinning out the library’s book collection and heard of contemplated changes to the library layout.

“The needs of students need to be met. They need a space to study, a computer lab,” said Girard.

It’s also important to remember the library here also serves the smaller college campuses throughout the region, she added.

“Students in the dorms need a place to study, and it’s not just Northwest Community College students. UNBC students also use the library as they don’t have their own,” Girard continued.

She also noted that as the college is aggressively courting foreign students, those students will be expecting to use a full-service library.

Meanwhile, college administrators hosted a session Nov. 25 intended to give more information on plans to move programs around during the trades building renovation.

The renovation was announced this fall for the project which will modernize the trades building, built in the late 1960s and now considered out of date and inadequate for modern trades training.

The provincial government is paying $11.87 million of the cost, the federal government $6.31 million and the college is coming up with the remainder of the total $18.4 million project cost.

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