Andrew Wilkinson

Trades expansion proceeds at Vernon college campus

Construction of a $6.21 million trade training centre for Okanagan College’s Vernon campus was announced Monday.

A major investment in trades training is moving ahead.

Construction of a $6.21 million trade training centre for Okanagan College’s Vernon campus was announced Monday.

“This is a big day,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.

“We will see a great addition to the college and the community.”

The 1,250-square-metre training centre will be constructed on the west side of the continuing education building towards Highway 97. It will include multi-purpose shops, a welding shop and multi-use trade space for the electrical, carpentry, plumbing and pipefitting programs, as well as aboriginal and women in trades trades programs.

Capacity will be created for about 150 trades students and they should be in the classes in the spring of 2018.

Presently, trades activities are in a leased hangar at the Vernon Regional Airport.

“We want to provide trades training close to home,” said Jim Hamilton, OC president, adding that a facility at the Vernon campus is a priority.

“Students will get to take advantage of all of the services at the campus.”

Among those welcoming the new training centre is Harrison Coe, an electrical student.

“For future students, it means a lot — greater access,” he said, adding that the centre will address the isolation students can have at the airport site.

“They will feel part of the students here. They will have access to the library and cafeteria.”

There will also be expanded opportunities for Vernon School District students, many of whom pursue training while still in high school.

“This is a fantastic resource for our schools,” said Joe Rogers, district superintendent.

“This will allow us to have more Grade 12 students working with the college.”

Of the $6.21 million, $2.66 million will come from the federal government while there is $2.88 million from the provincial government and $670,000 from Okanagan College.

“Okanagan College is one of our great success stories in the province,” said Andrew Wilkinson, B.C.’s advanced education minister.

“We want to make sure students have a world of opportunities right here at home.”