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Electrical contractors give back with Algonquin College donation

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by Korky Koroluk

The Ottawa construction industry’s campaign to help fund the construction of a new trades training centre at Algonquin College got a big boost Aug. 20 when the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Ottawa presented a cheque for $250,000.
Electrical contractors give back with Algonquin College donation

OTTAWA

The Ottawa construction industry’s campaign to help fund the construction of a new trades training centre at Algonquin College got a big boost Aug. 20 when the Electrical Contractors’ Association of Ottawa (ECAO) presented a cheque for $250,000.

Association president John Hyndman cited a “critical need” for skilled trades, adding that the need is expected to skyrocket in the near future. The new centre, he said, “will allow Algonquin to continue to produce job-ready graduates with the skills to meet the demands of the modern construction site.”

The new building, to be started in October, will be a $79-million project, that, when it opens in 2011, will add 600 new construction trades training spaces and become home to a total of 2,500 full-time and 5,000 part-time students engaged in cross-discipline training. It will allow the college to group under one roof all of its trades, design and building-sciences programs and research into one creative cluster.

The funding is in place, except for the final $7 million, and the local construction industry has pledged to raise that amount.

Dwight Brown, of PCL Constructors Canada Inc., is heading that campaign, and in brief remarks at the presentation ceremony said that the industry “must invest in its people to develop a strong future.

“With good people, a team approach and hard work, we can accomplish anything,” he said.

College President Robert Gillett said the donation demonstrates the community’s support for the new building and the importance of training skilled workers.

For the ECAO, which represents unionized contractors, this was an opportunity “to put our money where our mouth is,” Hyndman said in an interview.

“We’ve been saying for years that we need better training and (Algonquin) called us on it and we felt this would show our good intentions.”

The money is coming out of association reserves he said.

Other causes have benefited from donations from that reserve fund. Hyndman said that last winter a gift of $10,000 was split between the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Ronald Macdonald House and the Children’s Wish Foundation.

“We’re trying to give something back to the community we work in, where we earn our living. This is the way we’ve done that.”

Now, he said, “we would like to challenge all other trades — both associations and unions <0x2026> to make a donation that they feel they can contribute and which is noticeable for Algonquin.”

The new building, to be called the Centre for Construction Excellence, will house many disciplines related to construction, and an integrated learning approach will be stressed. Thus, besides trade training, students will also be exposed to other fields, including architecture, interior design, engineering technology and building-science research.

Built to LEED Gold standards, the centre is expected to be a model for sustainable construction practices.Building systems will not only operate the building but will serve as learning aids for students.

A request for proposals has resulted in a short list of three design-build teams: Pomerleau Inc., PCL Constructors Canada and EllisDon Corporation. Detailed proposals from them are due at the end of this month. After evaluation and contract negotiations, the winning team is to be announced by the end of September, with construction to begin in October.

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