College investing $70 million in construction

by Michelle Allenberg

Niagara College is investing more than $70 million in redevelopment at its Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses.

The college is funding about 10 projects, including two which were recently completed.

Pam Skinner, vice-president of the campus redevelopment program, said the projects were necessary, not only due to increased environment, but also to ensure students have access to top learning facilities.

Currently at the Welland campus, a cafeteria and justice studies expansion at the Simcoe building is underway. The 3,330-square-metre expansion will include a student activity centre, cafeteria and kitchen. Skinner said the cafeteria will have a 500-person capacity, which will have an inviting and roomy atmosphere. The current student commons can only accommodate about 200 people.

The Simcoe expansion will also include courtroom mockups. Skinner said the labs and four classrooms will provide justice studies students with a more realistic learning experience. When graduates go into the workforce, Skinner said the learning experience will have better prepared them with hands-on training.

Skinner said the college is dedicated to making student life easier. As a result, student services and student commons will undergo renovations. She said the changes will ensure all services are located in one place, so students don’t have to search the campus for services.

To accommodate the hairstyling program, which is moving in September to Welland from the Niagara Falls campus which is closing, the college is constructing classrooms at the Pavilion building.

At the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus construction of a 4,410-square-metre fitness centre, gymnasium and agri-food research building is underway. Skinner said the original gym on campus was converted into a cafeteria, so the need for a new gym arose.

Skinner said due to the ever-changing agricultural food industry, the college wanted to ensure students had access to better academic learning facilities. She said the new facility will be equipped with up-to-date technology for the industry. The project is scheduled to be completed next April.

Completed projects at the Welland campus include a green automotive lab, a 324-square-metre lab that is an extension of the existing facilities at the Rankin Technology Centre. The lab was needed in order to accommodate the latest green automotive technologies, including electric vehicle charging stations, alternate fuel technology, and other green automotive technologies.

All current projects are expected to be completed by August 2018. Skinner said there are no new projects in discussion as of yet, but the college is constantly looking at ways to improve its academic learning experience.

More than $29 million was provided by the college for the projects. Niagara College’s student administrative council funded more than $23 million of the projects’ costs. The provincial and federal governments provided more than $16 million in grants toward the renovations and construction projects.

Twitter: @M_Allenberg