By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – In 2016, there was a joint investment of $18.5 million by the federal and provincial governments towards establishing a Centre of Excellence for Heavy Equipment and Industrial Trades programming at the College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) Bay St. George campus. This funding was a part of a Government of Canada initiative to make the country a global centre for innovation.
While this was good for the campus in Bay St. George, there has been no similar funding or investment in the college’s Port aux Basques campus.
Former Mayor John Spencer believes the town’s campus requires a complete overhaul. Such an investment will not only improve infrastructure, but also the provincial government’s presence within the gateway community.
“Currently the provincial government has a hodgepodge of services spread around town in multiple rental units. The vision for an overhaul should not only include the physical site at the college, but an expansion on site to include a tri-level building to house government agencies. There is ample room for such a structure at the base of the college between the current site and the high school.”
Spencer’s primary concern is that if the matter is not addressed and something causes the current structure to become unusable as a government building, the province will move the programming to other campus locations.
“We need the community college to be anchored along the southwest corner as a vital role in providing post-secondary and community development for generations to come. We certainly need to see a greater provincial impact within the community ,offering a variety of services under one roof as an area community service center. These types of structures work elsewhere. It can certainly work here.”
Michelle Barry, Communications Specialist with CNA, responded to inquiries via e-mail. Barry stated that there are already various programs offered at the Port aux Basques campus.
“The campus has also just seen the opening of its Distributed Learning (DL) Drop-in Centre, which is designed to support students from the Southwest coast region, who are completing program through the CNA DL system,” wrote Barry.
Programs that are offered are regularly evaluated to ensure they are responsive to industry needs and labour market gaps. Ideally that allows expansion of existing programs, which is the responsibility of the college. But when it comes to infrastructure upgrades, that decision falls to the province’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DTI), which actually owns the building.
Kathryn Summers, Media Relations Manager with DTI, stated that maintenance and upgrades to public buildings like the Port aux Basques campus, are a matter of priority.
“The department is responsible for maintaining over 800 buildings on over 300 sites across the province,” wrote Summers via e-mail.
The department has done some work on the campus building.
“Other infrastructure investments at the campus include more than $1.2 million in mechanical and electrical upgrades, a boiler replacement, and roof replacement over the cafeteria.”
There is still more work planned for the Port aux Basques campus, although they do not approach the scope of the upgrades at the Bay St. George campus.
“The department anticipates a roof replacement project for another section of this campus beginning this summer.”