Dennis Gabelhouse (from left)

Dennis Gabelhouse (from left)

Kelowna Flightcraft lifts Okanagan College campaign

Kelowna Flightcraft donates $500,000 to aid expansion of trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Kelowna Flightcraft has thrown its support behind the campaign to expand and renovate the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.

Barry Lapointe, CEO of Flightcraft, has made a $500,000 donation to the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign that will help complete the $33-million project.

“I believe that people who have done well in this region should give back,” said Lapointe. “And we feel strongly about supporting post-secondary education.”

Lapointe’s donation to Okanagan College was acknowledged this week by Premier Christy Clark, area MLAs Norm Letnick and Steve Thomson, and several representatives of Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation at Flightcraft’s airport hangar, where a class of Aircraft Maintenance Engineering students were nearing completion of their course.

“Barry sees what’s coming: a shortage of skilled labour, and a tremendous opportunity for trained people,” said Clark. “He has always supported the creation of more education and career opportunities in the Okanagan, culminating in this generous donation.”

Lapointe’s donation brings the $7-million campaign up over the $3 million mark. The money raised will help complete and equip the trades complex and create support for students who take programs there. The province has contributed $28 million to the project.

The building and renovation project is expected to be complete by spring, 2016. Approximately 5,100 square metres of shops and classes will be renovated and an additional 5,500 square metres of shops, classroom and student space are being constructed along KLO Road.

The complex will accommodate about 2,600 students annually in a range of trades programs.

“Barry’s support is a key donation for the campaign,” said campaign chair Dennis Gabelhouse. “Industry support, from people like Barry, from the automotive industry, from companies like Westwood Electric sends a message to would-be tradespeople that validates their career choices.”

“We know that we are facing a significant skills gap – especially in the trades – in the coming years,” explains Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton. “Barry and others understand that and are investing in our future.”

Okanagan College is the second-largest trades training institution in B.C.