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Northern College putting stakes in downtown Timmins

Work is starting on an additional space for Northern College in the former call centre on Spruce Street South

A local college is putting stakes in downtown Timmins. 

On Aug.3, Northern College officially marked the start of construction at its location in downtown Timmins with president and CEO Audrey Penner and Mayor Michelle Boileau hammering in a stake outside of the space. 

For the expansion, the college is leasing space from the City of Timmins in the Michael JJ Doody building, where the Timmins Museum: National Exhibition Centre and Tourism Timmins are already located. The school will be using the former call centre area that is now vacant. It will be used by about 100 students as well as staff, with the goal of opening in January 2024. 

Capacity and labour force development needs are a couple of the reasons why the expansion is important. 

"We need to have in-time, on-time availability. We need to have flexible learning options. We need to have opportunities for people to upskill in a relatively easy manner. So putting it where people walking by can see it, putting it where people in a busy area can come and drop in just makes a lot of sense,” said Penner. 

The deal between the college and the city was approved at the May 30 Timmins council meeting. 

The college has signed a 10-year lease, which started June 1, 2023, for the 14,160-square-foot space. The city is also contributing $17,000 towards the cost of a new entrance, which will be similar to the neighbouring TEDC entrance. The city cash is worth about half of what the renovation is expected to cost. 

The renovated space will be very open and welcoming, said Penner. 

"We’re trying to develop flexible workspaces where possible so as programs grow and change we can adapt the learning spaces to that. There will be some dedicated classroom space, there will be some dedicated carousel learning space, there will be opportunities for employment discussions and things like that. It’s really going to be quite impressive when all is said and done,” she said. 

While the school is still waiting on approval from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities, the programs are focused on addictions and mental health, and project management. Penner talked about the academic upgrading that they'll also be offering, which will take a proactive role in helping people get to the next step of their goals. 

The new location is in addition to the programming already offered at the Porcupine campus. Penner confirmed that the school has not outgrown that facility. 

"There still is a lot to do on campus and we have a campus master plan that will help with that. We do have to take some of our older sections and revitalize them,” she said.

The school has grown, though. 

“We have grown. We’ve gone from being the smallest college in the province to the fourth smallest,” she said.

- TimminsToday