Columbia Power Corporation Boosts Selkirk College Capital Plan

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
October 13th, 2015

With a focus on strengthening a skilled regional workforce, Columbia Power Corporation has invested in Selkirk College’s major capital improvement project that will enhance educational opportunities for students.

Earlier this week, Columbia Power President & CEO Frank Wszelaki presented a $30,000 contribution towards a multi-million dollar capital plan that will see major renovations take place at Nelson’s Silver King Campus and the Castlegar Campus. It’s the latest step in a partnership that has been key in providing a regional solution to labour force demands.

“For more than 20 years, Columbia Power has been committed to hiring qualified local workers during the construction of major hydroelectric projects in the West Kootenay,” says Wszelaki. “Many of these workers graduated from Selkirk College, so we have a keen interest in supporting the college as they make major improvements to ensure trades and technology students have access to training and equipment which reflect current industry standards.”

The proposed improvements for the Silver King Campus include a major renovation and equipment upgrade to the shop areas, work on the classroom block, and the addition of student common learning spaces. The project involves bringing the facility up to current standards including use of energy efficient heating and lighting, improving the design of the shop classroom spaces, and incorporating spaces for current and future programming.

The capital campaign also includes a phased redevelopment of the student spaces, classrooms and equipment at Selkirk College’s campus in Castlegar. It will include a redesign of the main student area at the campus, improved student and service spaces, and modern classrooms required by today’s educators.

“We celebrated the 50th birthday of the Silver King Campus last fall and the facility is showing its age,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “We will continue to train individuals for in-demand sectors of our workforce, but this capital project is so important for our future. We are extremely fortunate to have strong community partners like Columbia Power who continue to show support for the future of Selkirk College.”

The capital project has received support from Columbia Basin Trust and other community partners in the last two years. The Silver King renovation proposal is currently before the provincial government who will be the primary contributor to the project.

“We remain confident that the Provincial Government will sign off on this project soon,” says Selkirk College Vice President of College Services & CFO Gary Leier. “Vital to the success of this project is financial support from our industry and business partners. Having Columbia Power step forward to be part of it helps bring to light the importance of the end goals.”

Columbia Power was created in 1995 under the Columbia Basin Accord with the original mandate to undertake power project investments as the agent of the Province of British Columbia and in partnership with Columbia Basin Trust. Over the last two decades, Columbia Power has been an integral component of major dam projects including the recently completed Waneta Expansion project that employed more than 1,400 people and pumped more than $300 million into the regional economy during construction.

Columbia Power owns and operates hydro power projects in the Basin with a vision that includes reinvesting in the future of the region through areas including post-secondary. The partnership with Selkirk College extends deep into the desired outcomes for both organizations.

“Partnering with Selkirk College to ensure local trades students have access to modernized equipment was the foundation for Columbia Power’s financial contribution to the college,” says Wszelaki. “In addition, Columbia Power supports the college by offering hands-on field training for students in programs like Recreation Fish & Wildlife, Integrated Environmental Planning, Plant Operator and Engineering. We also take pride in providing annual scholarships and offering summer employment opportunities.”

The Silver King Campus and Castlegar Campus capital improvement project will provide $32 million in upgrades to both facilities.

Find out more about the Columbia Power Corporation at columbiapower.org and Selkirk College at selkirk.ca.


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