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Campbell River city officials tour Rob Macneill Vertical Madness facility

In light of city funding for trade school program, Rob Macneill hosts mayor, economic officials

The hits just keep on coming for Rob MacNeill’s Vertical Madness and industrial sewing program.

In partnership with North Island College and Excel Career College in Courtenay, MacNeill’s program applied for funding to work as a trade diploma program, with the City of Campbell River Economic Development department applying for funding to WorkBC. MacNeill was joined by members of the City’s Economic Development department in the first step of the evaluation process.

READ MORE: Campbell River teacher Rob McNeill empowers his students through skilled trade expertise

MacNeill spoke of the opportunities this news is going to give his students who attend Robron Centre, Timberline and Carihi, and of the future adults at NIC and Excel he’ll be able to teach industrial sewing to.

“It’s incredibly overwhelming,” said MacNeill, holding back his emotions while being asked about the news. “We’re looking forward to having this future joint teaching and learning opportunity to provide for the city.”

Carihi Secondary Teacher Tracy Finkensiep, who has been coming to MacNeill’s shop with her classes for the past several years, says MacNeill’s class gives the children an added benefit, as well as learning a new skill.

“It can’t hurt,” said Finkensiep speaking about the funding. “This is a completely different learning environment. Learning new skills and from a non-traditional teacher. He may do things a little unorthodox. But it works. Rob will be training kids and young adults. There’s another avenue for employment. It’s not them going into a fast food place to work and perhaps hating the world.”

MacNeill was joined for the tour by Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl, as well as Economic and Business Development Officers Rose Klukas and Leah Knutsen. They were led throughout the facility, with MacNeill showing them the various materials his crew works on, including upholstery for boats and cars as well as designing parachutes, as well as meeting staff. With MacNeill being a former member of the military, he finished his presentation by showing a documentary about Operation Pegasus Jump, an annual skydiving event featuring veterans in Campbell River. All give MacNeill top marks.

“There is definite potential for industrial sewing here in Campbell River and the region,” Knutsen said. “With so many contracts Rob has going on, and the ones potentially coming in this is no doubt going to have a big impact on the economy.”

She stresses, however, the funding is not approved.

“I think it’ll be great for the community, for youth development and employment,” said Mayor Dahl after leaving the tour. “I’m most excited for the kids to get opportunities to do something worthwhile in Campbell River.”

Edward Hitchins

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