By Korie Marshall
BC Hydro is once again offering funding for trades training programs in Revelstoke, Golden, Nakusp and Valemount. Because Valemount doesn’t have an existing local college, BC Hydro spokesperson Jen Walker-Larsen confirmed they will consider supporting a program offered by the Valemount Learning Centre.
Riette Kenkel, manager of the Valemount Learning Centre says they plan to submit a proposal. The other communities have already had successful projects, so she thinks there will be a good chance Valemount’s will be considered if their proposal is strong.
BC Hydro previously committed $15,000 to a trades program in Valemount. Kenkel says the Learning Centre had tried to coordinate a women-in-trades program for seasonal, low-income workers, but the funding wasn’t enough, and they couldn’t find enough partners to get it off the ground. That money has gone back into BC Hydro’s pool for funding, and BC Hydro is now offering a total of $45,000 for programs offered in local communities starting April 1, 2014. The funds are a direct benefit of the Mica 5 and 6 project, and are intended to help build trades capacity in local communities, but each program can only apply for a maximum of $15,000.
Kenkel says she and Learning Centre staff have been brainstorming to come up with some ideas for a training program. They had been considering the women-in-trades program again, but thought it would still be a tough sell.
She says Penny Eadie came up with the idea of running a program on alternative energy, which is their top idea right now. The course would be an introductory course with classroom and hands-on training, which Walker-Larsen confirmed is the type of training BC Hydro is most interested in supporting. Kenkel says they’d like to incorporate wind, solar, small-scale hydro, and biomass energy production topics in the course, and possibly geothermal energy as well. They have begun reaching out to local people to see if they’d like to participate in providing the program, and are also looking for potential partners for funding.
BC Hydro says funds for earlier programs helped 79 students between 2010 and 2013. These programs include Okanagan College’s 2010 Residential Construction Program and 2012 Electrical Foundation Program in Revelstoke; Selkirk College’s 2010 Carpentry Program in Nakusp; and the College of the Rockies’ 2011 and 2013 Introduction to Trades programs in Golden.
The trades training fund was recommended by the Mica Units 5 and 6 Core Committee. The Core Committee was convened to help BC Hydro identify and address potential effects of the Mica 5 and 6 project, and is made up of First Nations, government, non-profit groups and interested Revelstoke residents.