Art Salt (left) with Bruce Davies.

Okanagan College trades complex campaign given heavy-duty boost

Coldstream Auto Wreckers donated a caterpillar front-end loader to Kelowna campus.

  • Jan. 22, 2015 4:00 p.m.

A respected auto industry pioneer and family man from the Vernon area has made a heavy duty gift to the campaign to renovate and expand the Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus of Okanagan College.

Art Salt, owner for almost 40 years of Coldstream Auto Wreckers, has donated a Caterpillar ITI8F front-end loader to the College. The loader is worth approximately $60,000 and will provide students in the Heavy Duty Mechanics program with hands-on training experience on a common piece of equipment in the industry.

When Salt learned that the trades training complex was undergoing a significant expansion, and that the College was searching for equipment to enhance these new shop spaces, he threw his support behind the campaign for the $33-million project. His motivation for donating the loader was simple: he believes the community needs to support up and coming tradespeople.

“These are the next generation of mechanics, right here,” explained Salt, motioning to students at work in the college’s bustling heavy duty mechanics shop, during a recent tour. “We need to help get them going, get them started in their careers.”

“The new trades training complex at our Kelowna campus will elevate the Central Okanagan as a hub for trades education in BC,” added Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “Our objective is to get students job-ready by providing state-of-the-art training, equipment, and technology. Mr. Salt’s generous donation supports that mission and will benefit many students for years to come.”

Over the past 20 years, Salt and his family have donated other parts and vehicles, including a Freightliner highway tractor. Salt also gave Okanagan College a front-end loader that required significant amounts of repair, which students then restored as a training experience using parts supplied by Salt; the students returned the loader to him in perfect working order.

“The equipment we’ve been fortunate to receive from donors like Mr. Salt is immensely valuable to our programs,” said Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship. “It enhances the experience for our foundation students and apprentices, and gives them confidence working with a variety of equipment.”

Salt’s automotive career began in the late 1940s when he purchased a taxi business in Lumby. He then worked as a salesman for Capital Motors before founding Coldstream Auto Wreckers in 1957, specializing in the salvage of light and heavy truck parts. The business became Coldstream Truck Parts in 1994 when Salt sold it to the current owner, his son-in-law Bruce Davies.

Davies joined Salt on a recent visit to the Kelowna campus to tour the trades classrooms and shops and to learn more about the plans to expand these spaces, including the building of a new three-story tower that will house more than 2,400 trades students and staff each year.

Seeing students hard at work in the trades training shops, Salt offered up praise and words of advice:

“The opportunities present themselves. Be open to them. Good breaks will come to you if you take it one step at a time.”

“Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.”

Salt hopes many of the students will be able to find jobs in the Okanagan. “It takes a little luck. But you can do alright anywhere, as long as you work at it.”

The $7-million Bright Horizons, Building for Skills Campaign for the trades training complex expansion launched in October 2014. The campaign team is seeking monetary and in-kind (equipment, tools, etc.) donations to supplement the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million to the project.

When completed in spring of 2016, the new complex will be one of the largest, most sustainable trades training facilities in Western Canada. Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institution in BC. To learn more about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to get involved, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.

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