New college campus in High Prairie in final stages

The tour group looks at the exterior of the new Northern Lakes College campus in High Prairie as work reaches the final stages.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Northern Lakes College is just weeks away from putting final touches on its new $24 million campus building in High Prairie.

“We’re very pleased with the progress,” says board chair Daniel Vandermeulen, of High Prairie.

“The project is on time and on budget.”

Work is wrapping up on the site on the east side of town at 4208 – 53 Avenue and staff will soon be ready to move in.

“All of the interior work is expected to be complete by mid-August,” says Vandermeulen, who served as president for 18 years until he retired in 2005.

“The whole building is a teaching lab.

“There are no real classrooms.”

Equipment and furnishings are scheduled to be installed for several weeks into September, he says.

Funding of $21.6 million comes from the provincial government while $2.4 million was committed by the college.

Vandermeulen says the new campus is a dream of president Ann Everatt, who is retiring at the end of 2020.

“I am excited about the space and the new culinary arts program and to get the building utilized by students,” says Everatt.

It will be the first foods services program for the college that celebrates 50 years in 2020.

Everatt was scheduled to retire Aug. 31.

However, she has accepted a request by the board to delay her retirement until Dec. 31 as the board continues to search for a successor under restrictions in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Construction for the project is 80 per cent complete,” says Paul Chaulk, NLC senior director of facilities and ancillary services.

Vandermeulen says the college plans to stage a grand opening in November.

However, the college is uncertain how restrictions in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will impact both the celebrations and students returning to classes in September.

Health services and academic programs and trades training will be enhanced at the campus that will accommodate 225 students.

Everatt says the new facility includes 33 individual learning suites, 12 classrooms and a health programs lab with space to accommodate up to eight beds.

The Net Zero Ready building is constructed of sustainable materials, including a high-performance envelope and high-efficiency windows.

Swaths of natural light and geothermal heating and cooling will cut heat and cooling costs, she says.

The two-storey 33,000-square-foot building also features three trades labs for carpentry, mechanics and welding and metalwork.

Everatt says the facility will be one of the highest-utilized campus buildings in the college’s 25 campuses.

Natural wood décor, plenty of natural light, open space and room to grow are also incorporated into the building.

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