North Cariboo Community CVampus celebrates 10 years

The history of this facility is a testament to the hard work and commitment of the community to see this accoomplished.

Local dignitaries, educators, education advocates and others gathered for the opening of the North Cariboo Community Campus.

Local dignitaries, educators, education advocates and others gathered for the opening of the North Cariboo Community Campus.

Quesnel’s North Cariboo Community Campus celebrates 10 years of service to students and the community next Saturday, Jan. 23 with an exciting array of events and special features beginning at 10 a.m. at the North Cariboo Community Campus.

Since about the early 1970s, post-secondary courses were offered in Quesnel by the College of New Caledonia but they were scattered throughout the community sometimes in 10 or more different locations.

As early as 1973, Quesnel was requesting a satellite CNC college. By 1981, the CNC Quesnel campus opened an official campus location on McLean Street in the Rigsby-Lee building. Once UNBC was established in 1995, it also offered courses in that facility.

One of Quesnel’s leading proponents for post-secondary education, Mary Glassford recalls that in 1998, regarding post-secondary education, Quesnel was the most underserved community in B.C.

The North Cariboo Post Secondary Education Council of which Glassford was a member, formed a committee to sell memberships in the proposed campus to show support for a dedicated facility with room for existing and future plans for both CNC and UNBC.

“We sold more than 1,300 memberships for $10 each and that money was put into a scholarship fund,” she said.

At the same time, the City of Quesnel under the guidance of Mayor Steve Wallace, secured a tentative site, giving the committee six months to convince the provincial government to fund the project.

In September 2002, Minister of Advanced Education Shirley Bond announced several post-secondary institutions would proceed with government support including an estimated 4,500 square-meter campus in Quesnel with $11.6 million committed. Once it was certain the campus would be built, CNC, UNBC and SD28 began development of educational program plans. The campus would be built in two phases, the first to accommodate CNC/UNBC programs and services and Phase II was the Trades Training Centre.

With funds in place for the facility, there were two aspects not included in the funding plan.

The committee took on the challenge of fundraising the necessary money for the Atrium and the Live Space (chairs, tables, staging and catering kitchen.)

“We had tremendous support for these projects,” Glassford said.

“The whole of the community was involved one way or another.”

Throughout the process, Glassford said Minister Bond was instrumental in the success of the campus project.

“We gave Shirley Bond an honorary membership as our way of saying thanks to her for her hard work on our behalf,” Glassford said.

After all the government approvals were received, construction began in August 2004.

The entire community watched eagerly as the building took shape.

The North Cariboo Community Campus was completed in November 2005 and the official opening was in January 2005. Classes began at that time.

That opening is what is being celebrated on Saturday, Jan. 23.

However, the North Cariboo Community Campus continued to grow. Almost as soon as Phase I was opened, lobbying began for Phase II beginning with meetings with Minister Bond. Those negotiations continued for several years until finally in the spring of 2009, the funding announcement the North Cariboo Post Secondary Education Council (NCPSEC) had been waiting for saw approval through a partnership with the B.C. government and the Federal Government for Phase II at the North Cariboo Community Campus.

Wasting no time, design work began and tenders were awarded for the construction which was started in 2009.

Phase II was opened in March 2011 and courses began in the new Trades Training Centre in September 2011.

As is the way for NCPSEC, they immediately began lobbying for Phase II (B).

Currently CNC offers programs and courses in Human Services, Industry Training, Nursing, Trades Training, University Transfer and Upgrading and more.

Although CNC has always been the driving force, through NCPSEC, everyone recognizes the value of having UNBC involved in the facility.

“We recognize the importance of UNBC in the campus as they were a partner during the discussions and offer collaborative programming which is a benefit to all

in Quesnel,” Glassford said.

“We have one of the few nursing programs that offer all four years in our community. That was always something we lobbied for from the beginning.”

One of the first graduates of the nursing program in Quesnel, Judy Crane, spoke at her graduation and said, “we have a centre of excellence in learning, a home which changes the comfort of learning and it becomes a pleasure to attend.”

Crane is currently one of the instructors in the nursing program.

So there is much to celebrate on Saturday and the public is invited to participate.

Watch for information about all the fun events and activities.

Quesnel Cariboo Observer