The slow moving relocation of Assiniboine Community College to Brandon’s North Hill could put program expansions on hold.
ACC is currently working on a new site plan for its North Hill campus which includes housing for students as well as room for shop and lab spaces for new and existing programs, according to ACC president Mark Frison.
"It can be a unique environment for a technical college but to realize that potential, you’re going to want to have people living on the site," Frison said. "The site plan will help inform how those things can come together."
However, Frison said, at this point it only makes sense to expand and offer new programs at the North Hill campus rather than renovate the college’s Victoria Avenue East campus.
"We don’t want our program plan to be static, we want to keep up with the labour market demands."
Frison added buildings on the North Hill, which are in need of an assessment, belong to the province and are managed through Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation.
The NDP government completed Phase 1 of the college’s move in the fall of 2007 with the opening of the $7.5-million Manitoba Institute of Culinary Arts.
Phase 2 was completed in the fall of 2010, with the opening of the $46-million Len Evans Centre for Trades and Technology.
The final phase will be the relocation of its main campus on Victoria Avenue East into the North Hill’s Parkland Building, which former ACC president Joel Ward said would be completed in 2011.
"It will take longer certainly then what was originally envisioned in 2005," Frison said. "It’s the goal of the college that eventually we’ll all be on the North Hill at some point in time."
Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell said the government is committed to completing the "multi-year project," which it began funding in 2001. He added there’s nothing delaying the final phase of the move besides ongoing renovations to existing buildings.
"The only timeline is the timeline it takes to get the job done," Caldwell said. "This project is transformative for Brandon and I’m going to spend as much energy and as much time as it takes to make sure that project is done."
ACC has also been working with Manitoba Housing on plans to add student-led family housing on the North Hill. So far the college’s first residence has received $60,000 from Manitoba housing to help fund development plans for the project, which include designing a 32-unit housing building with a combination of two, three and four bedroom units, said Steve Horne, ACC’s executive and board operations director.
"Brandon is in need of housing generally and we are hearing stories all the time of students having challenges finding places to live especially if you have a family and are attending school," Horne said. "It will bring a whole different dynamic to what we’re envisioning for the North Hill campus."
They hope to have the final plans for the project completed in August, Horne said. In conjunction with the province and Manitoba Housing, the college’s site plan will also help indicate the best location on campus to situate student housing.
"Having a residence on campus also means that students can be more involved with events outside of the classroom," said ACC Students’ Association president Tylor Johnson. "ACC has also done a great job at including the ACC Students’ Association in the planning process."
Frison said the addition of student housing on campus will help "bring the site to life."
As plans for the site develop, Frison pointed out there will be opportunities for students and the community to share their input.
"That North Hill site is not just a great college asset, it’s a great community asset ... it has a storied history and there’s a lot of attachment to the site."