After my editorial published on Lakes District News’ Nov. 23 issue titled ‘Potential new college is exciting news,’ more than one person told me that I didn’t express enough concern about local staff at the College of New Caledonia (CNC).
The concern is that, if the rural post-secondary education committee (RPEC) moves ahead with their plans to bring to Burns Lake a rural campus of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), then local CNC staff could lose their jobs in the transition.
That is a fair point, and I agree that we that we need to be concerned about preserving local jobs.
That’s why this week Lakes District News questioned both RPEC about local jobs and also tried to get some answers from CNC president Henry Reiser.
According to RPEC member Scott Zayac, preserving local jobs has been a concern for RPEC members. He said that, if the proposed transition is successful, NVIT will offer employment opportunities for existing CNC staff. However, he said it’s too soon for NVIT to make any commitments at this point.
Henry Reiser’s response, as you can see in the story, didn’t offer any clues as to what role CNC will be playing if this proposal moves forward. Instead, Reiser talks about how “excited” CNC staff is about the “bright future” of the Lakes District campus.
During last week’s council meeting in Burns Lake, RPEC members painted a gloomy picture of what education will look like in Burns Lake if no actions are taken.
They presented numbers pointing out how student enrolment, programs and staff have all significantly declined over the past few years in Burns Lake, adding that the current situation makes the campus vulnerable for further cuts.
More important, the RPEC members repeatedly mentioned how NVIT has a community-based approach, as opposed to CNC’s strategy of making decisions in Prince George that affect our campus here.
Meanwhile, CNC has recently sent a letter to the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s board asking that they would support CNC’s “commitment to fostering growth through consultation at the Lakes District campus.”
Although that approach sounds ideal, many people in this community would agree that it might be too late.
Former Mayor Luke Strimbold said that not being able to stop CNC from dismantling the hub model of services previously offered in Burns Lake was one of his biggest failures as a mayor.
But the truth is that he fought hard – as many people in the community did – for CNC to listen to what Burns Lake residents had to say.
They didn’t. And they also declined an invitation to be a part of the proposed new model of education in Burns Lake.
On behalf of Lakes District News, I would like to thank all of our readers – people who call us with story ideas, people who send us letters to the editor or who simply read our stories – for their continuous support. Have a merry Christmas!