Gary Fillingham, operation manager, Interior South, with FortisBC (second from left) announces a $42,000 donation to the new Okanagan College Vernon campus trades training centre. On-hand for the announcement are (from left): Jim Hamilton, president, Okanagan College; Kathy Butler, executive director, Okanagan College Foundation; Tanya Laing Gahr, corporate communications advisor, FortisBC; Neal Pobran, senior manager, community and aboriginal relations, FortisBC; Michael Tindall, Bright Horizons – Building for Skills campaign chairperson; Courtnay de Rooy, talent acquisition associate, FortisBC; Mike Donohoe, project coordinator, Maple Reinders.

FortisBC donates to college trades centre

Facility makes $42,000 donation

FortisBC has announced a $42,000 gift for the new Vernon Okanagan College campus trades training centre.

In addition to supporting the facility, the gift will also provide students with some state-of-the-art equipment and help the college deliver training on the latest techniques in energy efficient construction.

“We are pleased to provide support and funding for the new trades training centre at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus,” said Gary Fillingham, FortisBC operations manager, Interior South.

The gift includes a $20,000 donation toward the facility, bringing the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons – Building for Skills fundraising campaign closer to its $1 million goal.

An additional $10,000 gift-in-kind of gas meters will provide plumbing and electrician students with invaluable opportunities to train using equipment they’ll encounter out in the industry.

FortisBC’s conservation and energy management group is also contributing $12,000 to support curriculum development that will allow the college to deliver training on energy-efficient construction techniques.

“The demand for skilled tradespeople is increasing at FortisBC and in the energy industry, so having this high level of training in Vernon is good for our organization and for the region in general,” said Fillingham.

The donation from FortisBC will have a tremendous impact on students and on the campus, said Kathy Butler, executive director of the Okanagan College Foundation.

RELATED: Local donations lift college trades facility

“Not only does this support assist in providing equipment for teaching and skills to our students for in-demand trades, but also develops the next generation of energy leaders in our community,” said Butler. “It is extremely reaffirming to our students to see a national leader like FortisBC make an investment in trades as a career choice.”

Construction is well underway on the 13,450 square-foot training complex and on-track to complete in early summer. Trades students currently train in a leased facility off-campus and will begin programs in the new facility in August.

According to Butler, the contribution from FortisBC will provide a high quality training facility and help address the skills shortage by increasing the number of qualified tradespeople for jobs in the North Okanagan.

The $6.2 million state-of-the-art building will have the capacity to train approximately 150 students per year.

The project was announced in November 2016 and is being supported through the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund.

The province of B.C. is investing $2.9 million and the government of Canada has provided $2.7 million

Okanagan College and the Okanagan College Foundation is fundraising for the remainder of the project cost and to provide program and student bursaries and scholarships that will help increase access to training.



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