A veteran of Vernon’s auto industry has made a heavy-duty gift to help expand the trades training complex at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus.
Art Salt, owner of Coldstream Auto Wreckers for almost 40 years, has donated a Caterpillar ITI8F front-end loader to the college. The loader is worth about $60,000 and will provide students in the heavy duty mechanics program with hands-on training experience on a common piece of equipment in the industry.
When Salt learned that the trades training complex was undergoing a significant expansion, and the college was searching for equipment to enhance these new shop spaces, he threw his support behind the campaign for the $33 million project.
“These are the next generation of mechanics, right here,” said Salt, motioning to students at work in the college’s heavy duty mechanics shop.
“We need to help get them going, get them started in their careers.”
Over the past 20 years, Salt and his family have donated other parts and vehicles, including a Freightliner highway tractor.
Salt also gave Okanagan College a front-end loader that required significant amounts of repair, which students then restored as a training experience using parts supplied by Salt. The students returned the loader to him in perfect working order.
“The equipment we’ve been fortunate to receive from donors like Mr. Salt is immensely valuable to our programs,” said Steve Moores, dean of trades and apprenticeship.
“It enhances the experience for our foundation students and apprentices, and gives them confidence working with a variety of equipment.”
Salt’s automotive career began in the late 1940s when he purchased a taxi business in Lumby.
He then worked as a salesman for Capital Motors, before founding Coldstream Auto Wreckers in 1957, specializing in the salvage of light and heavy truck parts.
The business became Coldstream Truck Parts in 1994 when Salt sold it to the current owner, his son-in-law Bruce Davies.
Davies joined Salt on a recent visit to the Kelowna campus to tour the trades classrooms and shops and to learn more about the plans to expand these spaces, including the building of a new three-story tower that will house more than 2,400 trades students and staff each year.
Salt hopes many of the students will be able to find jobs in the Okanagan.
“It takes a little luck. But you can do all right anywhere as long as you work at it,” he said.
The $7 million Bright Horizons, Building for Skills campaign for the trades training complex expansion launched in October 2014.
The campaign team is seeking donations to supplement the provincial government’s $28 million contribution.
For more information, go to www.okanagan.bc.ca/campaign.