North Island College Director of Facilities Management David Graham walks Campbell River Mayor Andy Adams through the plan drawings for the NIC renovation/expansion this week at a public open house. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

High school to reap benefits of college upgrade, too

As part of the $13.5 million NIC upgrade, Timberline will get its own trades space, too

As part of the ongoing redesign of the $13.5-million North Island College (NIC) Campbell River Campus upgrade, designed to – amongst other things – strengthen NIC’s trades training offerings and incorporate the programs from the school’s Vigar Road campus, Timberline Secondary will be receiving a new trades training facility, as well.

At an open house this week in the Timberline/NIC cafeteria, project coordinators showed off the new project drawings, which showed the new Timberline addition on the north side of the facility, beside the gymnasium.

“The biggest highlight that has changed since the original announcement is that there’s more benefit for the high school now,” says Randall Heidt, vice president of strategic initiatives for NIC.

Timberline principal, Dr. Jeremy Morrow, says they’ve been trying to figure out a new solution for shop space for some time, and this is a great way for it to happen. The high school has been sharing its shop space with the college since the facility opened in 1997.

“It’s a great opportunity to capitalize on a project that’s not necessarily ours – we didn’t initiate it – but now that we’re a part of it, we can really capitalize on it. The consultation has been very positive. It’s been great to have both myself and (Campbell River School District secretary-treasurer) Kevin Patrick on the steering committee for the project and having a voice.”

What’s important, Morrow says, is that they look long-term.

“This moment is our opportunity to look forward, because in 20 years, what will be inherited from the decisions we make right now? What’s exciting for me, personally and professionally, is the opportunity to influence an outcome that will not only benefit our kids right now, but also 5, 10, 20 years down the road.”

Other than the new shop space for Timberline, not much has changed in terms of the overall plan since the initial announcement in the spring.

“There’s a new area for heavy duty mechanics, aircraft structures technician, new kitchen teaching space and a new student learning commons,” Heidt says. “There’s going to be some other improvements, but those are the major new spaces.”

The equipment got to work clearing and preparing the property almost immediately after the announcement this spring, Heidt says, but it’s an ongoing planning and logistical process, so there’s no definitive timeline on the work.

The idea is to build the new buildings around the perimeter of the grounds and move classes into those areas before beginning the major renovation work on the current building, Heidt says.

Once the new heavy duty mechanics building is done, for example, that program can move into that new building so they aren’t disturbed by the work being done on the library and learning commons area in the main facility.

“We’ve got really good experts in our facilities department, as well as the contractors, who are used to doing things like this, and they’ve got it all planned out so it will have the least amount of disruption possible,” Heidt says. “Anybody who has gone through a home renovation will know that there’s going to be some disruption, but they’re professionals and they’re doing everything they can to keep it to a minimum.”

One of those people is NIC’s Director of Facilities Management David Graham, who says part of the reason they have broken the project up into smaller phases is to enable more local companies to be a part of the work.

“We don’t have a hard number in terms of how many people we’ll need, but when we hit our peak, we’ll have two full crews running, starting at 5 a.m.-ish and another crew will take over and go until 8 or 9 p.m. It’s hard to say, because we’re breaking the work packages up into smaller groups so more local groups can bid on it,” Graham says. “If we, for instance, tendered out all the mechanical, it’s probably $3 million and that’s just too big for smaller local companies. To have eight or 10 guys on site for, you know, eight months solid, if you have other customers, it’s hard to manage that kind of manpower being tied up somewhere.”

Graham also says they’re always taking resumes at their field office on site for those interested in working on the project.

The renovation and expansion will create much more of a separation between North Island College and Timberline. Currently, the two institutions share many spaces, and students from both intermingle in the hallways much more than they will in the future – although they will still be physically connected.

Part of the reason they are separating the college from the high school a bit more physically, Heidt says, is in an attempt to increase retention of students moving from secondary to post-secondary.

“That was the idea, I think, originally, when they designed the facility, but I don’t think it was effective as the people who designed it would have liked,” Heidt says. “By doing this, it allows them to have a high school experience and a college experience and not necessarily be mingled for all of those years. A lot of the high school students may not want to walk the same halls in college that they did in high school and this allows them to have a separate college identity than they did in high school.”

Mayor Andy Adams calls the project “great news not only for Campbell River, but the whole North Island.”

“We really serve Alert Bay, Port Alice, Port McNeill, Port Hardy and all of the folks who come here to do take these programs,” adding that he intends to push the Ministry of Advanced Education to make the currently-temporary aquaculture and Film and Television programs permanent, “because we really see those as part of not only the overall diversification for NIC, but also the diversification of the economy here on the North Island.”

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