A decade of patience and persistence came to an end Wednesday as the province put the final stamp of approval on NorKam’s trades and technology centre.
Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake announced on Twitter earlier in the fall that the government would commit $6.3 million toward the facility.
He was present along with Jobs Minister Pat Bell and Kamloops-Thompson School District Supt. Terry Sullivan for a formal announcement in NorKam’s woodwork room.
Lake admitted afterward that his tweet might have been a bit premature.
“We still had a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross,” said Lake. “I made the announcement a little sooner than I was supposed to but, at the end of the day, I just wanted to make this happen.”
Sullivan and Bell credited Lake and Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger for their persistence on the $7.4-million project, which is expected to open in 2014. The school district committed $1.1 million to the project.
The first proposal was drafted almost 10 years ago by now-retired school district assistant superintendent Ross Spina, district principal Greg Howard and Duncan MacRae, a retired director of trades for the Ministry of Education.
Sullivan is pleased to see their efforts, along with the efforts of NorKam’s principals past and present, come to fruition.
“Without their determination and hard work, we would not be here today,” he said.
Spina attended the press conference Wednesday with a certain amount of satisfaction. He said district administrators knew then that there would be a need for skilled tradespeople and technologists.
Also, the centre was viewed as a viable way to draw students to NorKam. Between it and the international baccalaureate program, the school’s enrolment should be sustained for years to come, he said.
“Fortunately, the politicians have come through for us by providing us with the capital money,” said Spina.
The centre will include four shops and two lecture areas that will house a cohort of about 100 students from across the school district. The programs offered will complement apprenticeships and skills programs available at all Kamloops high schools and Thompson Rivers University.
Grade 12 NorKam student Reilly Henri fell in love with trades when he was in Grade 9. He’s taken every possible course since, but wishes the trades centre was a reality while he was at the school.
“If I had the availability to take it, I might have been able to pursue my training even further than I have,” he said.