Premier Christy Clark was in town Tuesday to announce $13.5-million in joint federal/provincial funding for a vocational training facility at the Campbell River campus of North Island College.

Video: Premier, feds announce $13.5 million revamp of North Island College’s Campbell River campus

Premier Christy Clark came to town today (Jan. 24) to announce the creation of a $13.5-million training facility at North Island College’s Dogwood Street campus.

The project will replace the aging Vigar Vocational Centre on Vigar Road and consolidate the college’s Campbell River campuses into one new facility – which is part expansion and part renovation to the current building.

The expansion will include a 14,531-square-foot addition which will house the professional cook teaching kitchen and cafeteria, a 12,379-square-foot addition containing science labs and classrooms and a 3,767-square-foot aircraft structures shop for a total of almost 60,000 square feet of additions. This is in addition to the 43,000 square feet of renovations to the existing facility.

Those renovations will include a new simulation lab and mock home care suites for practical nursing students, a new student common area, a redesigned library and an Aboriginal students’ lounge and study area with adjacent office space for the Elder in Residence. It will also see the physical separation of North Island College from Timberline Secondary by incorporating what is being called a “duplex-style floorplan.”

This means Timberline will need to do renovations, as well, so they, too, are also receiving $1.5 million in renovation money as part of the project, but the details of that work have yet to be finalized.

“We really are thriving and creating jobs here, but the thing is, while entrepreneurs and business people and British Columbians work hard to create jobs, which they have done in incredible numbers, we need, as a government, to make sure that British Columbians have the tools and are armed with the skills they need to be able to take advantage of those opportunities,” Clark told those assembled today. “Because it’s one thing to create jobs for British Columbians, but it’s another thing to make sure that British Columbians are first in line to get those jobs. That is, in huge part, the role that the government plays in making sure that the right education is there and that young people can go on and fulfill their needs in the communities where they grew up.”

The project has received matching $5.6-million funding from the province and the federal government, with an additional $2 million coming from North Island College.

“It’s truly an exciting day here at NIC,” said college president John Bowman. “It’s not only exciting for us, though, it’s also exciting for Campbell River, for Timberline Secondary School and most importantly for the thousands of students that are going to benefit form today’s announcement and the completion of this project.”

Chair of the college’s board of directors, Derek Lamb, agrees.

“I’m excited as a resident of Campbell River for this,” Lamb said. “I’m also excited as a board member of the college, because this means the Campbell River campus will have an expanded identity, a more defined identity. It won’t just be something that’s attached to a high school. I’m very, very excited about this.”

Construction on the project is slated to get under way soon and the government estimates it will generate 53 direct and 29 indirect jobs, with substantial completion expected by the spring of 2018.

“It’s going to be a game changer for the college here in Campbell River and across the North Island region,” Bowman said. “It’s going to enable more students from this community and the North Island as a whole to achieve their educational and career goals, obtain the skills and knowledge they need to lead happier, healthier, and more productive lives, and ultimately, that’s why NIC exists.”