After leasing the Trail campus from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary for 25+ years, Selkirk College has acquired the downtown city landmark for $1.
The deal to make the Helena Street building a permanent Selkirk College campus was made public Friday with the province announcing a $1 million investment to upgrade technology and classroom areas to increase access to a growing range of course offerings.
“This gift, and the community spirit behind it, will ensure Selkirk College remains a permanent local fixture as the Greater Trail Community Centre’s new owners and stewards,” Linda Worley, regional board chair said in the Friday news release. “Together, we can attract more investment and build a stronger and well-trained workforce equipped for the future, while positively affecting the lives of students and visitors for many years to come.
“This is exactly what Trail and area needs and wants.”
Buying the building also means the college will be able to better use space between the Trail and Castlegar campuses, thereby relieving pressure at the growing Castlegar locale.
“The City of Trail and the many other surrounding communities of the Lower Columbia place a high value on local, accessible post-secondary education,” said Maggie Matear, Selkirk College’s newly appointed president. “The number of students and the delivery of programs and services at the Trail Campus is growing,” she added. “We are excited to have an opportunity to continue to build on the success of the Trail Campus, work with the other long-term tenants to develop courses and programs that will enhance the educational landscape in the heart of this wonderful city.”
Matear was referring to the college adding further educational opportunities at the Trail campus such as the Licenced Practical Nursing (LPN) program. New courses will complement existing programming which includes academic upgrading and development, continuing education and workforce development, digital fabrication and design, health care assistant and others.
As well, the campus will also support student collaboration on advanced manufacturing and materials applied research at Selkirk College’s Technology Access Centre, located on Highway Drive in Glenmerry.
This new ownership will not impact current operations for tenants in the building such as the VISAC Gallery. The college notes the tenants are very important to the community and very important to Selkirk College.
On behalf of the city, Trail Mayor Lisa Pasin congratulated Selkirk College on the acquisition of the Trail campus.
“We are excited to have a revitalized hub of learning in the center of Trail, including enhanced educational programming,” Pasin said. “Selkirk’s educational presence in the region will be strengthened and the city’s downtown core will continue to be revitalized with more students and families coming to Trail. We thank Selkirk for their commitment to Trail’s future in post-secondary education and economic growth.”
The building was constructed in 1923 as the Trail Technical School and substantially renovated and expanded by 1939 to become the Trail Junior High School which closed in 1983.
The building remained vacant for three years because it did not meet fire or other building code standards of the time and needed major renovations to be safe for public use.
The regional district undertook a study in 1985 to determine the feasibility of renovating the facility, and the following year began a $3 million renovation project that culminated in the Greater Trail Community Centre opening in 1988.
Since then, the regional district has operated the centre to serve the communities of Fruitvale, Montrose, Area A, Trail, Warfield, Rossland and Area B-Lower Columbia Old Glory. The building currently houses the Trail campus of Selkirk College, VISAC Gallery, the Trail Gymnastics Club, the regional Emergency Operations Centre, the arts council, and The Bailey Theatre.