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Veterinary program drives residence construction

Northern College ’s Haileybury campus will have its first residence ready for students in September.

Northern College’s Haileybury campus will have its first residence ready for students in September. The new modular structure will include 16 apartments, with each having four bedrooms, two washrooms, a kitchen, a living area, laundry facilities and storage.

“Through a request for proposal process, we found a developer who is prepared to enter into a private- ublic partnership to finance, construct and operate a residence for us in Haileybury,” said Northern’s president and CEO, Fred Gibbons.

The cost to build a college or university residence does not attract any government funding, so they would have to be built with the post-secondary institution’s own funds.

“Northern College has been engaged in growth generally at our campuses, building new facilities. We want to continue to place our emphasis on that but we can’t continue to ignore the residence issue,” he said.

Guildcrest Homes will be building the apartments at its manufacturing plant in Ottawa.

“It will mean a quicker construction period, and they will be built in a controlled environment. When the modules are delivered to site, they are wired, plumbed, painted and a security system is in place. They come finished and it will be a very quick assembly period,” Gibbons said.

There has been a dramatic increase in enrolment at the Haileybury campus, due to the introduction of veterinary science and some other programs.

“Back in the late 1990s, for all intents and purposes, the campus was still regarded as the Haileybury School of Mines,” he said.

“The mining industry was going through a down cycle at that time and enrolment in mining programs tends to mirror the mining cycle so our enrolment was in decline. We needed to start building back our enrolment.”

Largely inspired by New Liskeard veterinarian Dr. David Silver, a two-year veterinary technician program was started. Currently, there are four more veterinary programs.

They include a three-year technology program, where in third year, the focus is on wildlife rehabilitation; a one-year certificate program in animal grooming; a one-year program for vet assistant; and a graduate certificate program in animal companion physical rehabilitation therapy introduced in September last year, the first of its kind in Canada.

“In 2008 and 2009, we acquired the former high school in Haileybury which is on the adjacent property to ours, and we undertook a $2.5-million renovation.

That whole building is comprised of our veterinary programs and is known as the Veterinary Science Centre,” Gibbons said.

The veterinary programs have attracted a large number of students who are not from the immediate area, but from Ontario and elsewhere.

“Once they arrive in the community, accommodation is a challenge. The community has stepped up to the plate nicely, creating apartment space, but it is still a challenge,” he said.

The veterinary programs tend to attract young females directly out of high school, so for many, it is their first experience away from home.

“We have heard from parents their preference would be to not put them in an apartment, but to have them in a more controlled environment like a college residence.”

The residence will be on college property, in the Rock Walk Park, with a streetfront presence. Some of the rock features will have to be moved, but the walk will be maintained.

“It achieves our needs and a popular community feature won’t be lost. Modular construction allows you to add on and the park can accommodate other buildings,” Gibbons said.

The new building will also have some of the architectural features of the original campus building, built about 75 years ago, including a blend of brick and stone and elongated windows.

The city will be upgrading water and sewer infrastructure on Latchford Street, where the campus is located, to accommodate the new building.

“It is something that we needed to do to sustain and continue to grow enrolment at the Haileybury campus,” he said. “I know in future we have to expand the campus building itself, and update and modernize the campus. I see an expansion of our own coming up in the next eight to 10 years.”