Community supports plans for new college campus


Richard Froese
South Peace News

Preliminary plans for a new consolidated campus for Northern Lakes College in High Prairie received high marks from residents during an open house Jan. 31.

“We plan to have the first shovel in the ground in the fall and open in the summer of 2020,” NLC president and CEO Ann Everatt says.

“That year is the 50th anniversary of the college and it would be a fabulous way to celebrate.”

About 40 residents attended the five-hour open house, she says.

Preliminary designs have been drafted for a preferred site on Evergreen Drive, east of High Prairie Elementary School on four acres. Funding of $21.6 million for a new consolidated campus was announced March 27, 2017.

Funding includes $882,000 to plan over the next two years and $20.6 million to construct.

Although the site and drawings have yet to be finalized by the NLC board, the college community is thrilled with the potential of the project.

“We heard a lot of positive comments from people,” says Everatt, who thanks everyone who reviewed and responded to the plans.

“We want to get feedback so we can take that all into consideration.”

Plans to protect close residential properties have been incorporated into the proposed design by Manasc Isaac Architects, says JRL Project Management president Brian Stephenson.

“We have created green space to provide a buffer for the neighbourhood,” Stephenson says.

Future expansion is also part of the plans.

“If a new high school is built on the current school site, we have designed a pedway to connect the school with the college,” says Robert LeSage, vice-president of corporate services and CFO.

High Prairie School Division and Holy Family Catholic Regional Division have both indicated they vision a new high school beside the new college campus.

Plans for the two-storey building features a cafeteria for a new culinary arts program, natural wood décor, plenty of natural light, open space and room to grow.

“We have incorporated a lot of flexibility for future addition and change,” says Paul Chaulk, NLC director of facilities.

The plan is common to other educational institutions.

“Colleges are always planning for jobs that don’t exist today,” says Everatt, who quoted board chair Daniel Vandermeulen.

A new consolidated campus has been in the works for about 10 years, Everatt says.

“Staff and students are excited about the new campus and the community is excited to see the project coming to fruition,” Everatt says.

Under the project, the college would combine its health services site downtown, academic campus on the east side of town and the trades training centre at the Tolko OSB plant west of town into one consolidated campus.

Development of a new, centralized High Prairie facility will accommodate 250 students, address future growth plans, meet employment demands in the region and increase campus energy efficiency.

 

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