NELSON – Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark touched down in Nelson earlier this week to visit Selkirk College’s Silver King Campus and Victoria Street Campus.
A member of Premier John Horgan’s recently announced cabinet, the MLA from Vancouver-Mount Pleasant spent time with Selkirk College students and staff as she settles into her new position. The Selkirk College stop was part of a larger tour of British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions.
“I’ve been the minister for a month now and as I was going through the material of my new portfolio it was imperative that we get out to all of the public post-secondary institutions,” said Mark, a member of the NDP government that was victorious in this past spring’s election. “It’s very important to get a flavor of signature programs, and hear from the students about what the opportunities and challenges are. I’m not going to get that in Victoria, I’m not going to get that in Mount Pleasant. So being on the road is really important.”
During her Tuesday morning visit, the minister was joined by student leaders and staff for a tour of the Silver King Campus which is currently undergoing an $18.9 million renewal project. With $10.34 million from the Province of British Columbia and $5.84 million from the Government of Canada, the project will see the aging trades-focused campus transformed into a modern facility once it is complete in Spring, 2018.
Mark then stopped by the Victoria Street Campus that is home to Kootenay Studio Arts programs in order to get a better understanding of the range of offerings at Selkirk College.
Having now visited 16 public post-secondary institutions in the province, the minister said she is finding common themes when talking with students and staff.
“Affordability and the cost of borrowing is really putting pressure on students. Housing is another issue that has come up on almost every visit and it has once again been raised at Selkirk College,” Mark said. “When you start to weigh in those two variables, it prevents people from going to school. It’s not good public policy when you are losing students due to these factors. We must have students graduating because by 2025 we will need to replace one million jobs in this province.”
Now nearing the end of her tour, Mark is looking forward to returning to Victoria to apply what she has learned as she helps set a course for advanced education in British Columbia.
“This tour will give me the information I need to advocate on behalf of all the public institutions for that systemic change they are asking for,” she said.
For more information on Selkirk College programs and opportunities visit selkirk.ca.