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Construction underway on $15 million Heavy Mechanical Trades Training facility

Jean Sorensen
Construction underway on $15 million Heavy Mechanical Trades Training facility

Construction has now started on the new $15 million Heavy Mechanical Trades Training facility to replace the existing outgrown facility at the Prince George campus of the College of New Caledonia (CNC).

The new facility will provide more opportunities for entrants and apprentices who are following a journeyman path in heavy-duty mechanics, which have been in critical demand over the years as more baby boomers exit the trade, said Frank Rossi, dean of CNC’s School of Trades and Technologies.

"CNC and its School of Trades and Technologies have responded to the demand by increasing the heavy duty mechanics and truck and transport mechanics programs as the need for skilled workers has grown significantly," he said in a statement.

The new facility will replace leased facilities and accommodate 251 existing full-time student spaces but also provide up to another 48 new spaces for full time students in the heavy-duty equipment technician and truck and transport mechanics program.

"We are running four classes at a time in a building designed to run two or three," said Craig Hull, CNC co-ordinator of the heavy mechanical trades program, referring to the existing facility. Shop space was limited in the old structure which has a total area of 14,000 square feet.

The general contractor for the new building is Maple Reinders, which successfully bid the contract to build the 2,316 square metre trades facility. The new facility will provide much-needed shop space, Hull added, as the Industry Training Authority curriculum has been changed for heavy-duty mechanical skills and training and now requires 50 per cent of the student’s mark be gained from shop work.

The facility will also have three labs, a computer lab for students as well as a tool room and tool room attendant.

Classroom work for the theory portion will be carried out next door at the Canfor building.

The new building will accommodate a range of heavy duty mechanical trades ranging from mine mechanic, heavy duty mechanic (marine to construction), commercial transport and trailer mechanic and engine mechanic. CNC offers a wide range of training options from the 36-week foundation course through to the fourth year, four-week journeyman course.

CNC’s student and apprenticeship area is northern B.C. down to Kamloops. However, Hull said that the trades program is also appealing to students from southern B.C.

"We have the space," he said, adding students are also attracted to a lower cost-of-living than that found in the Lower Mainland.

Since the announcement of the new facility earlier this year by the three funding partners, CNC, the federal government and the provincial government, efforts onsite have focused on dismantling an existing building at the site and construction has just started on the new structure.

The purpose-built structure was designed by architects Steve McFarlane and Nick Foster from the office of McFarlane Biggar Architects + Designers Inc.

Catherine Hansen McCarthy, CNC communications officer, said via email that the building would have a "focus on wood" and would be LEED Gold Certified with the Canada Green Building Council.

Completion is expected in the spring of 2018. Construction of the new facility is expected to generate 53 direct and 41 indirect jobs for the region.

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