Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) officials are continuing their push for construction of a student residence on the Strait Area Campus.
Monica Foster, NSCC vice president administrative services, in terms of capital projects, described it as a “high priority.”
“We think it would, definitely, improve the learning opportunities at our Strait campus, and it would maximize and leverage our current nautical training asset, which is world class,” she explained, in an Oct. 3 interview with the Casket.
Talk of building such a facility – one that would accommodate both short and long-term students – has been on the radar for several years.
Last fall, the NSCC announced it had started the search for someone to construct and operate a residence, including issuing a tender for a feasibility study.
“The RFI (request for interest) led to identifying the complications involved in us – the College – wanting the residence, the province owning the land and a third party providing the service and the building,” Foster explained.
“It has been through a number of machinations with the province and we are, actively still, pursuing something – we just don’t know what it is going to look like, yet.”
Foster noted the NSCC is now exploring possibilities through the province’s tangible capital asset process.
“We are putting one in for the Strait area residence as our top priority. We are hopeful that something will happen in the near future,” she said.
When asked about when there might be word of such a project moving forward, Foster noted the provincial budget was passed only recently.
“We have had the head’s up that it will be coming, but we don’t have any dates for submissions yet,” she added.
The only college site with a residence is Truro, where the NSCC inherited the former Nova Scotia Teachers’ College campus, in 1996, which included a cafeteria, athletic facilities, library, learning space and residence.
“The Strait is one of the campuses that needs a residence the most – another one would also be our Centre of Geographic Sciences in the [Annapolis] Valley [Lawrencetown].”
Foster, again, referenced the “world-class” marine training [Nautical Institute] offered at the Strait Area Campus, in talking about the need for residence space.
“Not only for our core programming but, for short-term learning, as well,” she said.
“The accommodations in that area, at any given time, they could be fully sold out, so it impairs our ability to offer training to industry, because we do not have a short-term place for them to stay, while they are taking our programming.
“And, it is not just local people that want to take these programs, it is all of Nova Scotia, it is Canada. Without appropriate residential options, we are not maximizing that asset at the Strait and we could be training more students,” Foster added.
As for the size of a proposed residence, she estimated a 40 to 60-bed capacity.
“We are not looking to build something outrageous – we just want to offer enough so that the students have the option of staying in a residence and that we maintain a number of beds for the short-term programming as well,” Foster said.
“The Strait is a very regional campus – we have people coming from four counties [Antigonish, Richmond, Inverness and Guysborough], at least, and a lot of them have long commutes.
“I am sure the students and their families, if they could, would like to have a residence option available to them,” she added.
Foster is optimistic something will happen sooner rather than later.
“I hope we are not talking next year about this – I am hoping we have a resident,” she said.