What former mayor Dave Burgess called “the gem of our city” appears to have more than a few flaws as gas leaks have now closed down the Assiniboine Community College’s welding shop on its North Hill campus.
As the Brandon Sun first reported on Wednesday, the college was advised that classes could not continue in the shop, located in the Len Evans Centre for Trades and Technology, until repairs are made to the gas lines.
The welding shop closure, which followed an inspection last week by the Office of the Fire Commissioner, has affected more than 40 students. With the shop closure, School of Trades and Technology dean Barry Gooden says students will spend their days in the classroom learning theory while the school, along with the facility owner — Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT) — work on a solution.
Possible solutions include going back to the Victoria Avenue East welding shop, which was decommissioned, or coming up with a short-term solution to get the North Hill welding shop back up and running. It seems the best option is likely to bring temporary portable gas tanks to the current site, as the Victoria Avenue East site has been out of service for more than two years.
This situation has stressed out students.
As much as the students are being inconvenienced, we are glad to see that the ACC and the province have erred on the side of caution and closed access to the shop while a solution is sought.
But quite frankly, this gas leak situation is merely the latest in a series of problems and concerns that have plagued ACC’s new $46-million trades building.
The facility, which took 18 months to complete and finally opened in the fall of 2010, was initially designed with 30 per cent less shop space, 40 per cent less classroom space and 20 per cent less storage space compared to the college’s former trades space at the Victoria Avenue East campus.
On July 15, 2010, college officials were handed the keys to the building, which ACC interim president Jim Brinkhurst says has been a flurry of activity since.
“Obviously, with the type of programming involved with trades, there’s a ton of equipment and training aides that have been moved up there and has to be positioned and put in place, installed, hooked up and tested,” Brinkhurst said.
The construction challenges were uncovered earlier that year in a series of Sun stories.
A number of concerns from several instructors in the college’s heavy duty program were laid bare about what they perceived as the new building’s inadequate shop, classroom and storage space.
While Brinkhurst brushed aside most of those concerns when given the keys, he did admit an unexpected spike in the number of students enrolling in the heavy duty programming areas has left the college specifically short on storage space.
To start addressing the shortcomings, a 14,000-square-foot unheated storage facility and a 62,500-square-foot secured compound near the new trades facility to store much of the heavy duty program’s equipment were built.
Cargo containers were also brought in to facilitate storage in the interim, Brinkhurst said.
“We’re finding solutions that really make it the best we can for our students in the long term.”
It’s funny how some words can come back to bite officials.
It now looks like all those cost cuts and poor design have resulted in some serious building failures.
And the losers here — “in the long term” — are the students and staff.
According to the province in a statement yesterday, “Safety is the paramount consideration in this work and at no time was the safety of students or staff in question.”
Except during the design and building phase of this lemon.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 7, 2013