When Selkirk College president Angus Graeme announced Thursday that the provincial government is investing $14.2 million in the trades training facilities at the Silver King campus in Nelson, welding and metal fabrication student Katia Costanzo was one of the hundreds of students welcoming the news.
“I can genuinely say there’s no other campus or facility that deserves this more than Selkirk College,” said Costanzo, who has already found work as a tradesperson and is now upgrading her skills.
“I moved here from Vancouver, and I didn’t go to BCIT or Kelowna because they have better facilities. I came back here because people really care about this school, and everything we have here we use completely. Everything I’ve learned has been right here on this campus.”
She believes the investment is money well spent.
“I’m so thrilled to have everybody here to announce what’s in my mind one of the next big steps Selkirk College is taking into the future,” Graeme told those gathered. “One of the things about today is it represents a tremendous vote of confidence in what we do here.”
The funds are coming from the provincial government, and though advanced education minister Andrew Wilkinson couldn’t be there, he shared his enthusiasm in a press release.
“Ensuring trades students have access to the best training available in modern facilities such as the new Silver King trades facilities will help students get the right skills they need,” Wilkinson wrote.
The funding is part of the government’s commitment to invest $185 million in trades training facilities and equipment.
“Selkirk College is focused on meeting the training needs for a range of high-demand trades,” said Graeme. “With the growing demand for skilled trades people, there has never been a more important time to help students get the training they need.”
Demolition and renovation is expected to get underway in the spring with construction completed in fall 2017. An estimated 84 direct and 56 indirect jobs are expected to be created.
The province is providing funding of up to $14.2 million of the $18.9 million cost, Selkirk College will contribute $1 million, and the Columbia Basin Trust announced a $1 million contribution in March 2014. The remainder is expected to come from donations.
Silver King campus opened in 1964 as the British Columbia Vocational school and became part of Selkirk College in 1975.
The funding will allow Selkirk College to renew and repurpose three existing buildings, demolish an old cafeteria and administrative services building and construct a new building for the cafeteria, multi-purpose open study area and aboriginal gathering place.
The renewal, replacement and demolition of existing buildings will make way for a new, updated training facility that can accommodate existing demand as well as future growth by being more efficient and use space more effectively, the government said.
Most of the trades training programs offered by Selkirk College are delivered at the Silver King campus, where there’s about 500 trades seats.
“This is a really exciting day for Selkirk College,” said Graeme.