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New facility energizes students at NLC

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DAWSON CREEK – Students in northern British Columbia can stay closer to home and receive training for jobs in health professions and in the clean energy sector now that Energy House and the renovated Health Sciences Building have officially opened at the Dawson Creek campus of Northern Lights College (NLC).

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, along with Premier Christy Clark and Blair Lekstrom, MLA for Peace River South, joined executive, faculty, staff and students today to celebrate completion of the two buildings.

“Our government is committed to creating jobs by providing youth with the tools and the training they need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy,” said Prime Minister Harper. “The new facilities being opened today will help address the growing national demand for nurses and provide trained professionals to help drive Canada’s burgeoning clean energy industry.”

NLC received more than $10 million from the provincial and federal governments for the two projects through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, part of both governments’ commitment to repair and expand research and educational facilities at post-secondary institutions.

Premier Christy Clark speaks at NLC.

Premier Christy Clark speaks at NLC.

“This is about building an educated and skilled workforce, ready to take on the jobs of tomorrow,” said Premier Christy Clark.  “As we open these new facilities we’re opening up new opportunities for students who want to pursue careers in clean energy or health in communities close to the ones they grew up in.”

Energy House is a crucial component of the Centre for Clean Energy Technologies at NLC, and is an important resource for the community of Dawson Creek. It contains a lab for students to learn how to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. It will also serve as a demonstration venue for the local community, showing ways that green energy can be integrated.

The Health Sciences Building – a 45-year-old former vocational school – was transformed into a state-of-the-art facility that is home to the health-care assistant and practical nursing programs. The renewed building has three labs – science, nursing and simulation; five classrooms – four of which are wired for videoconferencing; as well as a 100-seat amphitheatre.

“This is a great day for Northern Lights College and the community of Dawson Creek,” said Lekstrom.  “It’s the culmination of years of planning and work to bring these two projects to fruition. I know that because of these resources and the opportunities they provide, students at Northern Lights will be even better equipped to achieve their goals and find good jobs to support their families for the future.”

“At Northern Lights College, we understand the importance of providing quality learning opportunities in program areas that are integral to the growth of our regional communities and economy,” said Laurie Rancourt, president of Northern Lights College. “Thanks to the generous contributions of the provincial and federal governments towards the construction of Energy House and the Health Sciences Building, we are now better equipped than ever to enhance our existing programming, and to develop new programs, partnerships and collaborations in the fields of health care and clean energy technology.”

These were among 39 projects at post-secondary institutions across the province that were part of the Knowledge Infrastructure Program, a joint federal-provincial investment designed to renew infrastructure at post-secondary institutions across B.C. while also providing local jobs for communities.

The Knowledge Infrastructure Program is helping to provide economic stimulus and promote employment by creating jobs for engineers, architects, tradespeople and technicians. In B.C. the federal government is providing up to 50 per cent of the cost of selected projects on a cost-share basis with the Province. The total investment in these projects is over $520 million including contributions from institutions.

Quick facts

·  Energy House fulfills all its energy needs – electricity and heating – via solar panels, biomass boiler and geo-exchange systems; it also powers parts of the campus.

·  It also includes a fully functional training laboratory for wind turbine maintenance, along with classrooms.

·  Energy House has been built to LEED platinum standards – the highest in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating system.

·  Northern Lights College opened in 1975. It has campus locations in Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Fort Nelson, Fort St. John, and Tumbler Ridge, along with access centres in Atlin, Dease Lake and Hudson’s Hope.

·  The Province is providing $17.5 million in annual operating grants to Northern Lights College for 2011/12 – since 2001/02, grants have increased by 19.9 per cent.