Education stimulus

On the heels of announcing stimulus funding to boost Alberta post-secondary infrastructure projects, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement toured $4.5-million worth of work underway at Red Deer College on Wednesday.

Tony Clement

On the heels of announcing stimulus funding to boost Alberta post-secondary infrastructure projects, federal Industry Minister Tony Clement toured $4.5-million worth of work underway at Red Deer College on Wednesday.

The Ontario MP visited the campus for 90 minutes, meeting with college board members before touring the school with president Ron Woodward as part of a five-day trip to Alberta.

He was shown the positive impacts of federal and provincial dollars previously awarded to the college in May, through the two-year, $2-billion economic stimulus program administered by Clement’s department.

Clement told reporters in Red Deer that a second round of funding from the Knowledge Infrastructure Program would be announced in Edmonton later on Wednesday, but he gave no further details.

The announcement made at the University of Alberta showed Olds College will receive $2.918 million from Ottawa and matching provincial dollars for facility renewal and improvement, and $227,000 from the two levels of government would be used for mechanical upgrades at Canadian University College in Lacombe.

“We came to an agreement with the government of Alberta on the next series of priorities,” said Clement, standing inside an old sculpture studio that will be turned into nursing labs.

Some provinces elected to only have one round of dollars, not two as Alberta has done, he added.

Clement said he welcomes feedback on whether the Knowledge Infrastructure program can be improved, but so far he’s only heard kudos.

“What I’ve heard from university and college presidents is how impressed they are at how quickly the infrastructure program has come to fruition,” Clement said.

Woodward said he had no complaints with the program.

“We want to get all the building done by March 31, 2011, so it retains its flavour as an economic stimulus aspect, as well as a long-term investment,” Clement said.

Clement was shown various rooms that will be renovated by the end of December.

He saw what will become the new Hospitality & Tourism facilities, plus the newly opened four Centres (Centre for Trades and Technology, Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing, Centre for Corporate Training and the Centre for Visual Art).

His last stop was the former teaching kitchen, a dimly lit and cramped space.

“I found out it was 20-year-old mobile units patched together,” Clement said. “The plan is to rebuild it for students to learn about hospitality and culinary arts and so on.”

Woodward said the $4.5 million is “Godsend money” for projects that seemed to always end up on the backburner, particularly the kitchen.

Clement said investing in post-secondary schools results in construction-related jobs on site, plus jobs that follow from increased education opportunities.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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