North Island College’s Campbell River campus is ready to welcome students back to its newly-renovated facility as the school works on its new five-year plan for the future. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

NIC’s future in Campbell River hopefully to include student housing

School currently working on next iteration of its strategic plan, council told

North Island College is entering a new phase and Campbell River will be a big part of it.

That was the message from NIC president John Bowman on Monday as he presented to Campbell River city council about the organization’s new strategic plan, currently in development.

That plan, Bowman says, will build on the success NIC is seeing right now. With the consolidation of the Vigar Road campus into the Dogwood location, a multi-million-dollar renovation and the continued growth in enrollment here in town, Campbell River will play a key role in the school’s future, Bowman says.

“In 2018/19, NIC served 2,104 students of all types in all programs at the Campbell River Campus,” Bowman told council. “That represents about 25 per cent of overall enrollment… so it’s a very positive time for the school as a whole and Campbell River, specifically.”

Beginning this fall and continuing into the spring, Bowman says, the school will be analyzing the progress it made during its last five-year plan, which ends early in 2020, assessing any gaps or missed goals and finalizing the new plan.

“We’re really going to be seeking as much community and student input as we can throughout those discussions,” Bowman says, including the launch of what he calls “a major online survey, where we will ask questions about our priorities and goals and how well we’re doing, and we really hope to get a really strong representation from the Campbell River region and all across the North Island.”

The school will also be hosting a community campus regional forum on Nov. 7, “where we will be talking about the work we’ve done to date on the process and have focus groups … and find the direction the community would like us to take in the future.”

Bowman went on to highlight a few particular programs where the Campbell River campus is seeing growth, including the Computer Information Systems program that will be starting this coming January, as well as the increase in international students coming here to get their education.

People coming to the area for schooling naturally brought up the question of housing. With Campbell River’s rental housing stock critically low and NIC talking about growth, Bowman says it’s important for the school to play a role in addressing that problem going forward.

“I think we all know that the issue of affordable rental housing is a huge issue in all of our communities on the North Island,” Bowman says.

The Comox Valley Campus, he says, is working on a business case to put before the provincial government in an attempt to get student housing, and a similar move will likely be made here in Campbell River, as well.

“We’ve done some preliminary assessment around the need for student housing here in Campbell River,” he says. “Our intention is to move forward, in due course, with plans for student housing here, as well. I can’t give you a timeline on that, but we know that the new campus is going to be a draw and there’s going to be increased enrollment, including from international students who want to come and live and study here in Campbell River, so you have my commitment that working towards Campbell River student housing in the future is certainly on our agenda.”

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