'We're doing it': Lake says funding in place for NorKam trades centre
It's taken eight years of discussion between the Kamloops-Thompson school district and provincial officials, but the trades and technology centre at NorKam secondary finally appears to have been given the green light.
"We're doing it," Kamloops-North Thompson Liberal MLA Terry Lake told KTW, announcing $6.3 million in provincial funding to go along with another $1.1 million promised by SD73.
"Given the obvious need for increased trades training, combined with the fact we've seen our enrolment in Kamloops stabilize, it swung the argument in favour of investing in NorKam."
The program will see new shops and classrooms built on NorKam's campus, stocked with tools and equipment to teach students various trades and skills.
In 2009, the provincial government said it was ready to contribute nearly $3 million to the project — which initially had a pricetag of about $9 million.
Art McDonald, SD73's director of facilities and transportation, said the district was able to get the cost down to $7.4 million.
"There's a few things we did," he said.
"We cut the area back and construction costs have also dropped."
McDonald said it's still too early to speculate as to when work might begin on the massive project, which will see the north-east side of NorKam's campus transformed into a state-of-the-art learning centre.
"I don't know," he said.
"There's an announcement and then there's the work we have to do with the Ministry and all that, so I really don't know."
According to McDonald, planning for the centre began in 2004.
Lake said the funding is a good thing for the Tournament Capital as a whole — and especially North Kamloops.
"It's great because this will be a magnet school for kids around the district," he said, also referencing NorKam's international baccalaureate program that began there this year.
"It's part of getting the North Shore to develop that sense of confidence and being seen as a desirable place to live and work.
"It's really changing in terms of how people think about it and this is part of that."
Lake said more detail about the funding will be announced in the near future.
Dix 'congratulates' Kamloops
He would have liked to have seen it done earlier, but provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix called the announcement of funding for NorKam's trades and technology centre "a great day for Kamloops."
"It's been six, seven, eight years in the works," he told KTW.
"Congratulations to Kamloops, and congratulations to the government for finally listening. It's a good thing."
Dix said he's been pushing for the centre for a long time, and noted it would have been brought up on his campaign had funding not been announced.
"I've advocated for it, we've pushed for it," he said.
"I think it's a great project. We need more young people to go into the trades.
"I think we all would have liked to have seen it done earlier, but this is a victory for Kamloops — for people who fought for this project."