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$16.7M Granted to NWCC to Expand and Upgrade Smithers Campus

Infrastructure monies from the federal and provincial governments have been awarded to Northwest Community College (NWCC) for the renewal and expansion of its Smithers Campus. The Smithers Campus main building will be upgraded and expanded to accommodate additional mining and mineral exploration programs including geo-science technician and environmental monitoring assistant, as well as Adult Special Education, Home Support and Long Term Care Aide. The project, says NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth, is long overdue. This project has been on the drawing board for several years, as demand has outstripped capacity at this antiquated facility, said Forsyth, adding the case for a complete overhaul of the campus and the plea for additional space was issued in 2005 when a portable building providing office and classroom space was found to be unsafe and removed from the premises. Since 2005, the College has worked with the facilities branch of the Ministry of Advanced Education to identify funding avenues for the needed upgrades. Responding to encouragement from the Ministry, a business case was completed in early 2008. The business case process examined various options for the expansion and renewal of space for the Smithers facility, including examining other potential buildings and locations in the community of Smithers. An extensive renovation and expansion to the existing campus was deemed to be the most viable option. The project will upgrade aging infrastructure, improve health and safety and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The campus will be consolidated into a single building that will enhance the learning environment. This is great news for Northwest Community College, Smithers and northwestern British Columbia. Investment in post-secondary education is proven to deliver social and economic benefit, said Irene Seguin, Chair of NWCC Board of Governors. Smithers Mayor Cress Farrow echoed those comments, pointing to the benefits of advanced education and its effect on the local economy. Its certainly encouraging to see this initiative in Smithers. Local education makes such a big difference with the high cost of education, said Farrow, adding hes pleased the two levels of government are contributing. Its just a wise use of tax dollars. Expansion of the Smithers campus is expected to begin this year at the end of June. The $16.7-million investment is expected to generate up to 107 jobs.

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