PCL helping Okanagan College build the future of trades training

The construction company overseeing the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s new trades training facilities made a major donation

The construction company overseeing the renovation and expansion of Okanagan College’s new trades training facilities has made a major donation to support the College’s efforts to elevate the learning environment for tradespeople.

PCL Constructors Westcoast Inc. (PCL) has pledged $75,000 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the new Trades Training Complex at the College’s Kelowna campus.

“Okanagan College is a leader in producing qualified skilled tradespeople for our province and our country,” says Todd Craigen, PCL’s Vice President and District Manager for the B.C. Region. “These tradespeople are on the frontlines of jobsites everyday building the projects that PCL is renowned for across North America.”

“We continue to hear from government and from our industry partners that the province could be facing a significant skills shortage across the trades and technical sector over the next decade,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton.

“With more than 160,000 new job openings projected in the trades in B.C. by 2022, this new facility will allow us to continue to build the Okanagan as a hub for trades training, which is timely for the province and beneficial for our regional economy. More than 40 per cent of our trades students come from outside of the Okanagan.”

Over the past year, 1,926 full-time equivalent students enrolled in foundation or apprenticeship training at the Kelowna campus in 2014-15. The new complex will be able to accommodate more than 2,600 students per year.

This project marks the third major construction project that PCL has partnered with the College on since 2006, when construction began on the LEED Gold certified Centre for Learning at the Kelowna campus.

Following that project, PCL completed The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation at the Penticton campus in 2011. Since then, the building has received numerous accolades for its innovative design and construction, including being recognized earlier this year as the first building of its size in B.C. to achieve LEED Platinum certification. PCL made a $100,000 donation to the fundraising campaign for the project, along with a $10,000 gift in support of the College’s Sustainable Construction Management Technology diploma program in Penticton.

The $75,000 pledge toward the Bright Horizons campaign brings the company’s total gift to the College to $185,000 to date. PCL is also a long-term sponsor of the Okanagan College Foundation’s annual Charity Golf Tournament, the proceeds of which benefit students.

“On behalf of Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation, I would like to thank PCL for making yet another significant investment in our students and in our infrastructure,” says Foundation Executive Director Kathy Butler. “The fact that Okanagan College graduates are working for PCL on this very project, only steps from where they trained, makes PCL’s support for the campaign all the more meaningful.”

Helping the College advance learning environments for trades students was a natural fit, notes Craigen, given that PCL counts numerous Okanagan College graduates among the more than 10,000 tradespeople employed by its family of companies.

“These people are the backbone of our industry,” he says. “Without qualified skilled trades people, we would not have a successful business.”

The College has set ambitious goals for the Trades Training Complex: aiming to build one of the greenest buildings of its kind in North America by meeting LEED Platinum standards, net-zero energy usage, and carbon neutrality. Doors are slated to open next spring.

The Okanagan College Foundation launched the Bright Horizons fundraising campaign in October of last year with the goal of raising $7 million in capital and program/student support for the project, to top up the Provincial Government’s $28-million investment.