A new trades training facility at Camosun College Interurban will likely break ground in March after the project received the go-ahead from Saanich council this week.
Council approved a parking variance for the $30 million building on Monday night, allowing Camosun to move forward on issuing construction tenders for the 80,000-square-foot Centre for Trades Education and Innovation.
Peter Lockie, Camosun vice-president administration, expects sod will be turning in March on the 15-acre parcel that lies between the college campus and the Horticultural Centre of the Pacific. The college is aiming to finish and equip the new trades building by June 2015, in time for the start of the school year in September.
Saanich council unanimously approved Camosun adding only 83 new parking spaces to the building site (for a total of 166) rather than 248 spaces required under the zoning bylaw. The college will also have to add two trees for every one lost to make way for the centre.
The province is backing the project with a nearly $30-million grant, with the federal government chipping in about $2.5 million and Camosun $800,000. It’s part of B.C.’s drive to boost trades training, but for Camosun, it’s also about updating 40-year-old facilities.
“They are dated. They’re adequate but unremarkable. This is an opportunity for more state-of-the-art equipment, and it will be better for the students,” Lockie said. “It will be a state-of–the-art complex.”
The new trades centre is touted as LEED Gold, and designed by B+H Architects in the West Coast style of sweeping wood beams framing a tall windowed atrium. It will house heavy duty mechanics and automotive in one wing, and marine technology, sheet metal, welding and fabrication in another.
The vast majority of capital funding is committed to the new building, but the current trades spaces – the Jack White and John Drysdale buildings – will receive limited renovations, and will still house trades like carpentry, joinery, pipe fitting, electrical and plumbing.
Lockie envisions the college will use freed space in one of the old trades building, for applied research, as driven by industry.
“It gives us the opportunity to … offer a location for industry to showcase projects and further their research agenda,” he said.
With the new trades building, Camosun isn’t projecting a great deal of growth beyond the 2,200 students currently in 20 trades programs, although the space will be available to expand the facility if needed.