Sep 21, 2012 / 2:02 pm
A $28-million cash injection announced by the province today will revitalize and expand Okanagan College’s trades training facilities to accommodate increasing amounts of blue-collar students.
The Kelowna Trades Complex renewal project will modernize existing shops and classrooms and add a two-storey extension, which will more than double the size of the complex, expanding its capacity to accommodate 128 more students by 2016.
“This exciting expansion and renovation project will provide a modern, spacious and energy-efficient space where students and instructors can be assured of a high-quality, rewarding training experience,” said John Yap, minister of advanced education, who was on hand for the announcement Friday morning.
The province says the project is a response to growing demand for trades-related training. The Kelowna campus trades training program has more than doubled over the past 10-years.
The expansion will add 6,264 square meters to existing buildings and renovate 4,385 square meters of existing space. The project will also eliminate leasing costs of $245,000 the College has on off-site buildings used for the trades program. The College hopes to reach a goal of net-zero energy through “green design principles,” eliminating an additional $220,000 in operational costs.
Okanagan College has contributed $5 million to the project, which has a $33-million price tag.
"Our investment in trades training at Okanagan College reflects the strength and potential of the economy in the Interior and throughout our province,” said College president Jim Hamilton. “The renewal of the Kelowna Trades Complex as part of BC's Skills and Training Plan will ensure the college has the capacity it needs to provide training opportunities for the learners and workers…."
Patrick Waunch, chair of the BC Construction Association, applauded the announcement, calling it essential to the future of BC’s construction industry.
“The Construction Sector Council is currently predicting a conservative shortfall of 20,000 skilled workers for British Columbia after all BC sources of labour are tapped into, so enabling more seats for apprentices is absolutely essential if we want to keep BC building."
The project will eventually increase seats to trades students to 2,408, up from the current 2,280.
Construction preparation will begin immediately, with a completion target of spring 2016.
BC taxpayers will provide more than $45 million, up from $25 million in 2005-06, for operations and student programs at Okanagan College this school year alone.
The province has invested over $63 million in capital investments at Okanagan College since 2005.
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