NLC breaks ground for new campus

Northern Lakes College breaks ground Sept. 24 for its new High Prairie consolidated campus on 53 Avenue at 42 Street. College officials, local and provincial government elected officials and citizens celebrated the event. Left-right are NLC president and CEO Anne Everatt, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, Lesser Slave Lake MLA and Children’s Services Minister Danielle Larivee and NLC board chair Daniel Vandermeulen.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Northern Lakes College broke ground Sept. 24 for its new consolidated campus in High Prairie.

College and government leaders celebrated the milestone on the site on the east side of town at 4208 – 53 Avenue.

“Today, we celebrate a remarkable and momentous event, a new campus in the community of High Prairie,” says board chair Daniel Vandermeulen, of High Prairie, who served as college president for 18 years until he retired in 2005.

“The development of this facility will allow for future program growth to meet regional employment demands and serve community mem- bers.”

The college will combine its health services site downtown, academic campus, and the trades training centre at the Tolko OSB plant west of town into one consolidated campus.

College leadership is excited about the project.

“Consolidation of our three learning spaces will reduce the overall campus environmental footprint and energy consumption,” Vander- meulen says.

Construction of the new campus is expected to be complete and open in fall 2020 to serve about 225 students.

The project is expected to create about 300 construction jobs and generate nearly $47 million for the local economy.

“We are delighted that the Government of Alberta has supported this investment for the High Prairie campus,” NLC president and CEO Ann Everatt says.

“This new facility will support generations of learners and enable Northern Lakes College to provide a wider variety of programs and services to the community.”

She notes the new campus has been in the plans for 10 years.

Funding of $21.6 million for a new consolidated campus was announced March 27, 2017 in High Prairie by Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt.

The funding included $882,000 to plan over two years and $20.6 million to construct.

“This is an investment in the future of Northern Lakes College, the High Prairie community and our province that has been a long time coming,” Schmidt says.

“So many students from across the region come to Northern Lakes College to pursue a quality education so that they can get a good job and succeed in our province’s economy, but the requests for a new campus were long ignored by the previous administration.”

He says the new campus will boost learning opportunities for local youth.

“A modern facility will provide apprentices with more innovative trades training and will help the college enhance its dual-credit partnership with local schools, so that more young people prepare for a career in the trades.”

He adds the facility will continue to grow as a pillar in the High Prairie.

“I hope this campus will be a hub for your community and spread the spirit of promise and possibility thoughout the region,” Schmidt says.

Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee echoed those words.

“It’s to the credit of the college that it is such an integral part of northern Alberta,” says Larivee, who was presented the Friend of Northern Lakes College Award at its convocation ceremonies June 2, 2017 in High Prairie.

“It provides for the sustainability and future of our communities.”

She says the project is long overdue.

“This is a long-awaited day for High Prairie which, after years of being an afterthought to previous governments, will now finally receive a facility purpose-built for this region,” Larivee says.

“Having taught at Northern Lakes College myself and worked side-by-side with its graduates, I know how vital this institution is for training emergency responders, frontline workers and community leaders.”

Larivee was also aplauded by the college for her efforts to secure funding for the project.

“She deserves a great deal of political credit to push for the project,” Vandermeulen says.

Northern Lakes College, its student population and staff play an important role in the local economy. A study indicated the school generated about $104.7 million to the local economy in 2015-16, says a government news release.

A crowd listens to the speech by Northern Lakes College president and CEO Ann Everatt.
Northern Lakes College board chair Daniel Vandermeulen addresses the crowd as he speaks in front of the project sign.
Several council members of the Town of High Prairie and Big Lakes County were part of the crowd of about 35 people who attended the ceremony. Left-right, are High Prairie Councillor Brian Gilroy and daughter Judeah Gilroy, NLC board chair Daniel Vandermeulen, Big Lakes County Grouard Councillor Fern Welch [also a member of NLC board of governors], NLC president and CEO Anne Everatt, Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, High Prairie Councillor Debbie Rose, Lesser Slave Lake MLA Danielle Larivee, and High Prairie Mayor Brian Panasiuk. He is employed at the college as the chair of dual credits and recruiting.


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