OC's Res Con instructor and students at work.

Donor hopes new trades building will inspire students to think green

Rambow Mechanical Ltd. has donated $50,000 to support new trades complex at Okanagan College.

  • Nov. 15, 2015 9:00 a.m.

A local business leader and volunteer for the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign is supporting the College’s efforts to go green with its new trades training facilities.

Rambow Mechanical Ltd., led by President Patrick Waunch, has donated $50,000 to support the construction of a classroom in the new $33-million, 10,000 sq. metre complex currently under renovation and expansion along KLO Road.

Waunch began volunteering his time in support of the fundraising campaign long before its official launch last October, and feels strongly that local industry should support the College’s efforts to train the next wave of tradespeople in B.C.

“I believe it’s incredibly important that we invest in the skilled tradespeople of tomorrow,” says Waunch, whose company currently employs five Okanagan College-trained apprentices. “The future of the construction industry looks extremely positive over the next 15 years, so training new apprentices to fill the workforce is going to be imperative.

“This new facility is going to be a great asset to students who want to make a future for themselves in this industry.”

With a skills shortage among trades and technical workers that could see call for 160,000 new skilled workers in the province by 2022, the College set out last year to proactively upgrade its facilities. Support from local business has been encouraging.

“It sends a powerful message to our students and to our surrounding communities when local employers invest in education,” explains Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “We are grateful to Rambow Mechanical for this generous donation and to Patrick Waunch personally, for championing the project in his sector.”

Rambow Mechanical is one of the contractors engaged in the complex’s construction. The company previously provided mechanical systems services for The Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence at the Penticton campus, the first building of its size in the region to achieve LEED Platinum certification (which the College is once again aiming for with this new facility).

Slated for a spring 2016 opening, the new complex in Kelowna is expected to accommodate more than 2,600 students per year. The added space of the new three-story tower will allow the College to bring students back to campus who are currently training at leased facilities off-campus.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this renovation and expansion project is the fact that it will allow the College to unite our trades students and provide them with a completely modern and sustainable facility,” explains Hamilton.

Waunch says he hopes the building’s sustainable design will inspire students to think about the role they will play in implementing and advancing new building technologies as future tradespeople.

“Our industry is based on new technology that is constantly changing and becoming more environmentally friendly. I couldn’t think of a better place than this innovative new facility to train the creative minds that will lead our industry into the future.”

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign is seeking to raise $7 million by next spring to support the College in completing the project. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.

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