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Safety being upgraded at North Island College campuses

North Island College campuses will soon have improved and upgraded campus safety systems, thanks to $652,000 in capital funding from the Province.

The upgrades are designed to help ensure campus infrastructure and operational systems are performing at optimal levels, which is important to keep B.C.'s campuses in top operating shape, according to the Ministry of Advanced Education.

Work at the Campbell River, Comox Valley and Port Alberni campuses is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

NIC's director of college and community relations Susan Auchterlonie noted the funding will be used to upgrade the schools' emergency response systems, including lighting and fire systems; to erect safety railings in the Campbell River campus theatre; and to improve emergency notification systems, which would be used in the event of an emergency closure, at all of NIC's campuses.

"All systems were functioning well, but this funding enables us to keep current and up-to-date with the latest technology," she added. "We do expect that the work will be completed within the next few weeks."

The college and government also announced $507,000 in one-time funding, which will be used to offer short-term training in the region. The college expects to create up to 63 trades-related seats over the coming year, including trades foundation skills, carpentry and campground maintenance.

"We are very pleased to have received the one-time funding, as it will enable us to work with industry through NIC's Natural Resource and Applied Research Centre, located in Campbell River, to support the economic development of the region," said NIC president Jan Lindsay. "Working directly with industry we will develop specific training programs to serve the educational needs of both industry and our population. One example is the potential development of an aquaculture technician program in conjunction with industry professionals."

B.C. taxpayers are providing over $22 million for North Island College's operations this year — including an allowance for general infrastructure maintenance — up from $18.3 million in 2001/02. The number of funded student spaces at the college has increased five per cent since 2003/04.

More than $10 million in capital investments have been made at the college since 2001, including construction of a new skills development and trades training facility in Courtenay.

Comox Valley MLA Don McRae pointed out the Province's contributions to the college are important.

"We've made significant investments in North Island College over the past decade, helping to build a well-educated and trained work force in the region," said McRae. "This funding will allow NIC to ensure they have the modern facilities students need to grow their careers and meet the demands of B.C. employers."

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