Mayor Don McCormick (center left) and PIE President Duncan MacLeod (Center right) meeting with investors and officials in China this past week. (Mayor McCormick file).

Mayor Don McCormick (center left) and PIE President Duncan MacLeod (Center right) meeting with investors and officials in China this past week. (Mayor McCormick file).

Kimberley Mayor & P.I.E. President Duncan MacLeod back from ‘successful trip’ to China

Part one in a two-part series on the proposed Purcell Collegiate International School.

Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick and President of Purcell International Education (PIE), Duncan McLeod, arrived in Kimberley last night after a week in China to meet with investors for a proposed full-time international education school in Kimberley. PIE’s goal is to open the campus in 2020.

“We went to China to promote and educate on the model, which is new and different for international education as it exists in B.C., and as an opportunity for Chinese students,” said MacLeod. “A world class independent school in a small town is a new idea.”

He adds that reception from investors and government officials was “very positive”.

“Once you sit down in a room with people and show them where we’re taking about, who we’re talking about, in terms of the people who live in communities like this, and the strong background that Kimberley has [in international education] – this is not a hard sell,” said MacLeod. “There have been fee-paying international students coming here since the 1980’s and it’s just a question of informing and educating around a new model and new opportunity.”

READ MORE: Firm seeks investors for International School

He says that there are similar opportunities in places like Victoria and Vancouver, but PIE’s goal was to engage investors in that same idea in a “small town like Kimberley”.

Hence why the Mayor tagged along, to sell investors on the City. (The trip was unanimously approved by Kimberley City Council and 100 per cent funded by PIE).

“It’s a natural fit,” said McCormick. “The community is a big part of the sell and a big part of the appeal to investors and those folks working in international education.”

The next steps, aside from procuring sufficient financing, will be to find a location.

“There are several suitable sites. We want to choose a location with the best benefit to everyone; the students, staff and community,” he said. “The location is a really important part of the process.

“We’ll be taking the big picture and groundwork we just did in China with the Mayor and moving on to the finer details, how it would work with partners there and what it looks like in terms of meeting our timeline and goals for opening.”

Something MacLeod stressed was that the ‘Purcell Collegiate’ school would not be a Chinese school.

“This is a B.C. school with a B.C. curriculum, Canadian educators and Chinese funding” he said.

The school would see at least 80 professional full-time jobs, says MacLeod, and 450 full-time students (one third from China, one third from Canada and one third from various other international locations).

There would be a construction spend of $50,000 and an estimated $20,000,000 in annual revenue. The cost for an international student’s annual tuition is $50,000 CAD (double the price of the tuition for the Rocky Mountain International Student program).

“There is a large trickle down effect with increased tourism through parent visits and tournaments,” said MacLeod.

30-50 acres of land are required to build the campus that will house the school, dormitory, outdoor track and a field house including an indoor soccer pitch and arena.

“There is no track in Kimberley,” said MacLeod. “One of the great parts about this is that the facilities will be available to the entire community.”

He says that students who are enrolled in the public education system will have the opportunity to not only use the facilities on campus, but also take part in clubs and extra curricular activities that might not be available otherwise.

Tom Ristimaki, PhD, is the Learning Leader and Program Designer at PIE. He was raised in Kimberley and went to Selkirk before pursuing a career in linguistics with a focus on language as a use for empowerment and experiential education.

Ristimaki says that some examples of the types of clubs and extra-cirrikculars would include robotics, coding, drama, forensic science, mandarin and more.

The school would also be a destination for Academy students; local students who want to attend the school and take part in the athletic programming that will be offered.

“We want to engage kids in a rural experience and extra curricular learning,” said MacLeod. “We want to keep them engaged, safe, and give them a well rounded education. The key goal is to create a global village with international students learning among Canadian kids.”

[More to come]