Growing up as a hockey player in Winfield, Mark Macdougall has driven into the parking lot of the Winfield Arena many times over the years.
And while the arena will always conjure memories for the 21-year-old George Elliot graduate, the hockey memories may now be replaced by something else. For the past 15 weeks Macdougall has been part of a 10-student strong crew from the Okanagan College construction program that has now completed its portion of building a new food bank for Lake Country.
“I’ve always enjoyed living in Winfield,” said Macdougall on Friday afternoon at the completion of the OC construction job, building the new Lake Country Food Bank from the ground up. “I love the community. It’s pretty remarkable to think that every time I drive by here I will always have the memory of building this structure. It’s pretty cool to think you have had a helping hand in building something as magnificent as this. It’s been a great project and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Building the new Lake Country Food Bank was a larger project than the Okanagan College residential construction program normally tackles. As the name implies, students normally construct a house as part of their program. But this year the Vernon-based residential construction program took on the food bank building, a 5,200 (two floors) square foot structure with a unique and modern design that presented its challenges to the students.
“This was a big project and far more complex than anything that we normally do,” said Okanagan College construction instructor Rob Barton. “These students really stepped up. There was a lot done and it was done safely so we couldn’t ask for anything more. It was quite a challenging build for these students.”
The students completed building the structure nearly to lock-up stage with a basement and main floor featuring angled windows and roof and using many new building technologies.
Working with a crew of students fit nicely with the community-aspect of the new building for the Lake Country Food Bank, but also meant at times, things moved slower than a regular construction job.
“I think it was a great experience for the students,” said Rotarian Tom Roth, who owns Immaculate Construction in Lake Country and is the construction manager.
“Every day we were more optimistic on how much was going to get done. You have to think of safety procedures and keeping 10 people that are not so experienced moving and keeping them safe.
“Even though there were more bodies sometimes it moved slower but we have it this far and it feels nice. I got the feel from the students that they were proud to be working on it.
“They worked really hard to get this to where it is.”
Food bank manager Phyllis MacPherson was on hand to thank the OC students and said she was thrilled by the progress and excited for the potential of the new building.
“This is beautiful,” she said. “This fits my vision of an open floor plan. I can visualize it. I’m so excited. I can hardly wait to get in here.”
Plans are to have the project completed by November.