NORTHWEST Community College and the provincial government are in negotiations leading to an extensive renovation of its trades training building at its main Terrace campus.
Built in 1970 and one of the original building dating back to the college’s origins as a vocational school, the current 75,000 square foot structure has been consistently tagged by the college as out-of-date and insufficient to meet the kind of trades training now needed.
“Subject to government approval, the business plan will determine the final cost, scope and timeline of the project,” said college official Heather Bastin last week of the negotiations.
In 2012 the college laid out an ambitious plan for a $45 million trades training building project of 120,000 square feet and began lobbying the province for approval.
But that plan has now been sidelined with the decision to focus instead on renovating the current structure, said Bastin.
“These would be renovations and not a new structure,” she said.
“After conversations it was decided that renovations would be the better way to go.”
Just as important as the actual renovations would be making a myriad of arrangements so that classes and students would not be disrupted while the work is going on.
“Our commitment is maintain a full course offering,” said Bastin. “That planning is part of the business case we’re developing.”
While it is far too early to estimate the kinds of dollars nowadays that would be required, the 2012 college document did indicate then that $6 million alone would be needed to bring the trades building up to current standards.
In speaking to Terrace city council in the fall of 2012 regarding the college plan, then-college president Denise Henning noted one deficiency.
“We have more women in trades, young mothers and single mothers and we have two toilets for women,” said Henning of facilities in the building.
“I would be remiss as the president of Northwest Community College not to go for an ideal situation,” she said of the original $45 million plan.
Henning also said the college would be reaching out to the region’s large industrial players for financial assistance.
Corporations have already been contributing money to the college for course offerings.
The emphasis on trades training has resulted in recent influxes of provincial money to purchase new equipment for student training.
That’s partially in response to the potential for the region to be host to large-scale industrial development, primarily liquefied natural gas plants, and the need to train northwestern B.C. residents to work on those projects.
Northwest Community College has also been the benefeciary of provincial construction money on its campuses elsewhere.
That includes a new Prince Rupert campus built at a cost of $12 million and a $16.7 million campus in Smithers.