The mood was as bright as the late Tuesday morning sun streaming through Camosun’s new Centre for Trades Education and Innovation at the Interurban campus as college officials announced they had exceeded their fundraising goals for the new building.
Standing in front of several hundred students, staff and faculty, Camosun College president Sherri Bell led the crowd in a cheer after hearing that the capital fundraising campaign for the new building had reached $6.5 million, a figure 30 per cent higher than the previously announced goal of $5 million.
A collection of glass, steel and concrete, the building opened in February 2016 following a formal ground-breaking ceremony in March 2014.
The provincial government contributed $29.2 million towards the construction of the building, with Camosun covering $800,000. In October 2014, the Camosun College Foundation announced it was planning to raise $5 million for new equipment and facilities slated for the building to supplement the provincial funding.
Local entrepreneurs and philanthropists Lynda and Murrary Farmer co-chaired the campaign titled TRADEmark of Excellence, which raised money from local businesses, organizations representing various sectors include labour, and individuals.
Speaking in front of a wall bearing donor plaques of various sizes, Bell praised the Farmers’ dedication and determination in raising funds for the college, a point echoed by Jeety Bhalla, board chair of the Camosun College Foundation.
“The hard work and leadership of Murrary and Lynda Farmer propelled this campaign which has exceeded expectations,” he said.
The new building adds space for 1,000 additional trades students and marks the centre of Camosun’s expanded and redeveloped trade education complex, now the largest trades education facility on Vancouver Island and the second largest in British Columbia, according to Camosun College.
Tuesday’s announcement concerning the TRADEmark of Excellence campaign was the second of two major announcements concerning trades education at Camosun.
Less than an hour earlier, the college had announced that Babcock Canada contributed $800,000 towards the campaign.
The contribution – said to be the largest to the campaign to date – will go towards the creation of the college’s new Interaction Lab, which promises to support learning and skills development to help meet the demand for skilled workers.
“The concept of the Interaction Lab is to bring real-world problems into the college, build inter-disciplinary teams with students, faculty, staff, marry those teams with the state-of-the-art equipment and produce solutions,” said Dr. Tim Walzak, director of Camosun Innovates.
These solutions would then be available to interested partners in the corporate world, he said. “But those solutions also weave back into curriculum, so by the end of the process, many, many, many students are touched by the innovative process.”
Babcock Canada is part of Babcock International, a British-based company considered to be one of the most important supplier of engineering support services in the defence, energy, emergency services, transport and education sectors.
In 2013, Babcock Canada won a five-year, $531-million contract to service Canada’s four Victoria-class submarines, a contract that has protected roughly 200 jobs at the Department of National Defence’s Fleet Maintenance Facility in Esquimalt, according to published reports.
Babcock Canada president Mark Dixon said he thinks of the $800,000 not as donation but as an investment. “It is an investment in expanding opportunities for industry, to link in with programs [like Camosun].”
Murray Framer thanked Dixon. “This new partnership with Babcock is one of the most exciting and proudest outcomes of the TRADEmark of Excellence campaign.”