The change in government in the last Provincial election caused a delay in the renovations of the new Vanderhoof campus ofor the College of New Caledonia, but today’s announcment by the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training have put any fears about the project to rest.
The Minister has announced that the Province has allocated $5.2 million to the renovation and upgrade of the campus, a move that means that students will have the benefit of a state of the art facility in which to pursue their studies.
“We’re helping build CNC’s new Vanderhoof campus so people can study for the careers they want with the modern tools and facilities they need, right in the Nechako region,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “When it comes to finding a good, family-supporting job, your government recognizes that higher learning is a very important investment.”
Renovations and upgrades will include construction of teaching spaces, a trades workshop, classrooms and a computer lab, in addition to support and service spaces. Site improvements are expected to include sidewalks, lighting and new signage.
Construction is expected to get underway in fall 2018, with completion targeted for early 2019.
“This is an exciting announcement for our region,” said Gerry Thiessen, mayor of the District of Vanderhoof.
“We appreciate the relationship we have built with the college, as we together aim to ensure that we have an educated workforce that will embrace a successful northern economy and lifestyle. As a Council we have always been supportive of this concept and it’s great to see it finally come to fruition.”
The Province provided CNC with $1.7 million in 2017 to purchase a new facility, replacing an outdated leased property. The new campus consists of two retail buildings, located on 0.96 hectares (2.38 acres) of land.
The District of Vanderhoof rezoned the property from retail to education to allow for appropriate college use.
The current building has served adult learners in 10 communities, with a total population of over 16,000 people, for more than 30 years. The college typically has about 75 full-time equivalent students. The new college campus is located at 139 East First St.
The $5.2-million project for renovations and upgrades at the new CNC Vanderhoof campus includes $5 million from the Province, with the remainder coming from CNC. The provincial funding is part of Budget 2018, which includes a direct investment by the Province of $1.2 billion over the next three years in capital upgrades and new facilities in the post-secondary sector.
The funding became a topic of controversy when, in April, Nechako Lakes MLA, John Rustad, took to Facebook to say that there was “no money to renovate the CNC building in Vanderhoof”. He went on to say that now, “the building will sit empty”.
Rustad later withdrew his comments and acknowledged that he was mistaken on the funding issue.
Henry Reiser, president of CNC, expressed excitement over the funding and what it means for the future.
“The support of the Province for the renovations is welcome news,” he said.
“The new location, a newer building and renovations will ensure we continue to work closely with the community to meet the needs of our students.”