Wednesday August 3, 2022 | LANGFORD, BC [Minor updates August 5, 2022]
by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Editor | Island Social Trends
A new collaborative post-secondary campus is coming to downtown Langford!
This exciting news has been in the works for years, as many levels of government and education collaborated to make it happen.
This upcoming new facility happens to be in the Premier’s riding in the west shore of Greater Victoria, which is one of the fastest-growing communities in BC. Langford saw population growth of nearly 50% between 2001 and 2016, which is projected to continue by another 33% over the next decade.
Langford is of course known for its efficient construction and ‘get it done’ mentality, all of which stems from the vision and enthusiasm of long-time Langford Mayor Stew Young. Phase 1 of construction is getting started right away at the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road in downtown Langford. The City will build amenities (sidewalks and parking) and deal with housing and traffic issues associated with the new campus, it was indicated today.
The official address of the new campus will be 798 Goldstream Avenue. Over the coming years, in total there will be four buildings to comprise the full campus.
Today’s keynote speakers:
Today’s keynote speakers were Premier John Horgan (MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca), Advanced Education and Skills Training Minister Anne Kang, Royal Roads University (RRU) President Philip Steenkamp, City of Langford Mayor Stew Young, and SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar.
Four institutions in one:
The five-storey mass timber building will house essentially what are satellite campuses for Royal Roads University (in Colwood), the University of Victoria and Camosun College (both in Saanich), and also the Justice Institute of British Columbia (based in Vancouver, with an office in Victoria that will relocate to the west shore).
There will also be programming space for the local Sooke School District SD62, primarily for the adult-education division of their learning delivery but also for post-secondary courses taught as additional credits for high school students.
Phase 1 completion is set for September 2024.
Four years undergrad:
Full four-year undergrad programs will be available at the new campus, for students coming out of high school. Adult education upgrades and career-based skills training will also be featured at the collaborative campus, so far loosely called ‘west shore university’.
Minister Kang says finalization of the campus name is still in the works.
Horgan poked a bit of social conscience at Royal Roads today, to “get out of the castle and into the community”, in support of the move to bring post-secondary to a highly accessible location in the west shore. The reference to ‘castle’ is of course Hatley Castle, which is known to more of the world than one might think (it has been used as a film set location for X-Men and other high-profile movies).
Great news for parents:
While there are many people and sectors who will benefit from a post-secondary institution in the west shore, probably the most positive impact is for parents. Not only will the cost of supporting their graduated children through post-secondary be minimized (if post-secondary students decide to live at home) but the disruption to family cohesion (that is not often talked about) will be avoidable or minimized when a young adult student doesn’t have to ‘fly afar’ in order to pursue their post-secondary goals.
“The people of the Westshore have waited a long time to have another post-secondary campus in their community,” said Premier John Horgan, MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca, whose old constituency office used to be right across the street from the upcoming new campus.
“Residents will now be able to further their education right here at home without needing to live in – or commute to – another city. I know this will encourage even more people in the west shore to get an education that is the key to future prosperity,” said Horgan today under the hot sun on a dusty construction site.
Training for the many job openings:
“British Columbia will have one million job openings in the coming decade. Four of every five of those jobs will require a post-secondary education or specialized skills training. Our government will continue to make the investments necessary to ensure the skills gap is closed,” said Horgan.
In February this year — as part of dealing with pandemic economic recovery — Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Minister Ravi Kahlon announced the need to fill one million jobs over the next 10 years in BC.
Ideal for SD62 grads:
The new campus will directly serve the educational needs of students from Sooke and the west shore municipalities of Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Metchosin and Highlands; that’s the municipal footprint of the SD62 school district (with now over 12,000 students expected this September).
The new campus will also serve students from First Nations throughout southern Vancouver Island, particularly those on the Westshore, including T’Sou-ke (Sooke), Pacheedaht (Port Renfrew), Scia’new (Beecher Bay), Xwsepsum (Esquimalt), Lekwungen (Songhees) and Malahat.
SD62 has had lower-than-average direct-to-post-secondary transition rates (38% compared to the provincial average of 51%), with residents identifying long commutes as one of the barriers to pursuing post-secondary education.
Significant population growth is projected to continue over the next decade on the west shore (primarily in Langford and Colwood but also Sooke). This is driven largely by robust housing construction in the region since 2011.
The west shore region has more residents under the age of 15 than the rest of the province, it was stated by Minister Kang today.
SD62 has opened five new schools in recent years including Belmont Secondary and Royal Bay Secondary in September 2015, and the upcoming elementary (Pexsisen) and middle school (Centre Mountain Lellum) that are co-located on one property on Constellation Avenue in Westhills (set to open September 2022). An elementary school in south Latoria (at the Langford/Colwood boundary line) was announced recently. Another high school is planned for Langford.
Those key points were highlighted by Minister Kang today, as well as by the other speakers at the podium for a long-run series of speeches: Premier John Horgan, Royal Roads University Philip Steenkamp, Langford Mayor Stew Young, and SD62 Chair Ravi Parmar. There were also remarks from Beecher Bay Chief Russ Chipps and a student from SD62’s Belmont Secondary.
The BC Government announcement’s event emcee today was Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin), who as Minister of Children and Family Development was very excited about the support for families that is proffered by the new upcoming campus. Before her election as an MLA in 2017, Dean had long been active in the social support sector for families in the west shore.
The leadership community showed up:
Today’s large gathering included many other VIPs in the education and municipal leadership communities, including Colwood Mayor Rob Martin, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, SD62 Superintendent Scott Stinson, SD62 Trustee Dianna Seaton, most of the current Langford City Councillors (Denise Blackwell, Matt Sahlstrom, Lanny Seaton, Norma Stewart and Roger Wade), and staff from Royal Roads University including Dale Gann who heads up business development.
Representing UVic President Kevin Hall today was UVic vice president Elizabeth Croft.
Representing Camosun President Lane Trotter today was Geoff Wilmshurst, Camosun VP Partenerships.
Local Member of Parliament Alistair MacGregor (Cowichan-Malahat-Langford) attended.
West shore developer Jim Hartshorne attended, as did Langford Chief Administrative Officer Darren Kiedyk.
The timeline of this project goes a long way back. Also attending today was former Colwood Mayor Dave Saunders who now serves on the Royal Roads University board.
High praise for Stew Young:
The sticktuitiveness of key players was highlighted by RRU President Steenkamp’s definitive statement at the podium today. He said that without Langford Mayor Stew Young this new west shore campus project simply would not have happened.
Steenkamp is a former deputy minister of advanced education in both BC and Ontario. In that context: “I have never seen a level of commitment from local government like from the City of Langford,” Steenkamp told Island Social Trends after the formal speeches. He said that Langford has “a very vibrant city center” and sees the upcoming west shore campus as a “catalyst for re-imagining the economic future” of the city and the region.
Steenkamp notes that the Langford commitment of $27 million for infrastructure improvements and $1.5 over 10 years for development and support of an Innovation Studio — as well as $300,000 for student economic assistance — “will go a long way to helping government decide to put money on the table”, Steenkamp told Island Social Trends.
Student housing will be part of the future phases of the west shore campus, in addition to what is already offered in the downtown area which has increasingly been providing high-density apartments and condos.
Local economic benefits:
Langford is one of Canada’s fastest-growing communities. Not only will more students be able to access education close to home but the training for in-demand jobs for all adults will support a stable economy.
Straight-up, it’s fair to say that businesses in Langford will be well-served by the new campus, as the main street of downtown Langford gets a further leg up as a place to work and visit.
An innovative new-campus planning council has been on the go for several years (with leadership from Langford, Colwood, RRU, SD62, UVic and Camosun), a group that will continue to look at the new campus’ cross-benefits to the business community.
The $98-million project includes a $77.8-million investment from the provincial government for the construction of the building, and $18.5 million from Royal Roads University for the land purchase plus an additional $500,000 for capital costs.
Additional capital contributions include $1 million from the University of Victoria and $200,000 from Camosun College.
The City of Langford has committed to invest in parking for the campus, as well as road infrastructure upgrades valued at $27.5 million, including $1.5 million in funding over 10 years for development and support of the Innovation Studio.
As part of the commitment to the project, Mayor Young announced today that the city has formed a Langford Education Fund, contributing $75,000 annually for five years to support local youth graduating high school that want to attend post-secondary in Langford.
Programs and micro-credentials offered at the new west shore campus will include a new common foundations program to prepare students for a variety of fields. This will be offered for business, hospitality, environmental practice and communications studies at RRU.
UVic will offer computer science, engineering and humanities courses.
Camosun College will offer health-care assistant and educational assistant training.
JIBC will offer paramedic and first-responder training. Adult upgrading and education programs will also be offered from School District 62.
“This investment is so important for students,” said Philip Steenkamp, president, Royal Roads University, on behalf of the partner institutions. “As we see many more people looking for post-secondary training, this campus will allow us and our partners to offer an expanded suite of options for learners at every age and stage.”
Full undergrad, with a new twist:
Today RRU President Steenkamp explained to Island Social Trends that the new west shore campus will offer full four-year undergrad degree programming to domestic students.
Presently the campus offers third and fourth-year completion of undergrad degrees, as well as first and second-year studies for international students.
With excitement, Steenkamp explained how the new undergrad program will have a brand new curriculum style and format.
Calling it a challenge-based curriculum, he explained that for the full four years of study each student will do projects curated around many of the 17 key challenges identified by the United Nations. That includes climate change and environmental issues, areas in which RRU and this region overall seems to have a head start. Small cohorts would work on projects guided by experts.
The full list of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is:
- End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
- Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
- Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Ensure access to water and sanitation for all
- Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
- Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all
- Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
- Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
- Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources
- Sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss
- Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
- Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Steenkamp assuredly says that after four years of challenge-based learning that students will pick up all — if not more — of the subject material compared to how it is taught in the traditional theoretical manner.
The new west shore campus in Langford’s city core is ideal for focussing on the urban aspects of society.
Steenkamp refers to City Studio at the Simon Fraser University campus in Surrey, which addresses key urban issues, saying a similar approach could be taken at the Langford-based campus.
He points out that while the campus is physically located in Langford he hopes the fuller west shore will see themselves reflected and participating in the west shore energy, goals and projects of the upcoming future campus.
Training more health-care workers:
Today Premier Horgan fielded questions about training enough health-care workers to support the range of needs in the health-care sector. Of course, that takes time, he reminded. He said that today’s announcement about a new future campus is a big part of achieving that goal.
Health Minister Adrian Dix has announced over the past year about various other post-secondary seats and initiatives to see more health-care workers trained in BC.
Today in response to a media question, Horgan waxed on — rightly so — about how the Canada Health Transfer (funds from federal to provincial governments) needs to be increased, and that poaching of health-care workers from some provinces to others needs more governance (for example, Alberta has been paying higher wages to health-care workers, so other provinces are losing workers seeking higher pay in Alberta).
Horgan is the Chair of the Council of the Federation (COF), which holds meetings of all of Canada’s Premiers to discuss matters of common concern. The most recent COF meeting including health care as a priority was held in Victoria July 11 and 12. Producing a more equal playing field for health-care workers nationally was addressed by Alberta Premier Kenney.
Classrooms and studios:
The five-storey mass timber building for the new west shore post-secondary campus at 798 Goldstream Avenue will include flexible learning spaces and classrooms, student supports, a multi-purpose classroom called the Innovation Studio, and space for Indigenous gatherings.
The project is planned to meet the Zero Carbon Building design standard, the first public post-secondary institution in BC to target this, in addition to targeting LEED Gold certification. Both standards are administered by the Canada Green Building Council.
Opening Fall 2024:
It’s going to be a fast build. The new west shore collaborative campus is anticipated to open just two years from now, in the fall of 2024, with the capacity to serve about 600 students.
By 2035-2036, at full capacity the campus will serve an estimated 1,300 full-time students.
Funding for the new post-secondary campus on the west shore is part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready Plan. Future Ready is making education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.
What people are saying about the west shore campus:
“This unique and innovative campus is a fantastic example of post-secondary institutions collaborating to invest in students, and the programs and infrastructure they need to be future ready for their careers. This new model brings the strengths of four post-secondary institutions closer to people so that they can pursue the education they need to help build a stronger BC.” ~ Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training.
“We are glad to be able to bring more education options to the Greater Victoria area, including sought-after UVic programming, such as computer science, engineering and humanities. This collaborative campus is a new and promising model of delivering programming that meets community demand and serves the needs of Westshore students and the region.” ~ Kevin Hall, president, University of Victoria
“A new Westshore campus breaks down physical barriers to accessing high-quality education closer to home for students living in the region. Camosun has been offering courses at many locations in the Westshore for a number of years, such as Belmont Secondary school where over 600 students have already taken our programs. The college’s focus in the Westshore is currently on delivering university-transfer classes, adult upgrading courses and educational assistant training. New space will allow the college to add diploma and certificate programming in computer systems technology, early learning and care, and health-care assistance.” ~ Lane Trotter, president, Camosun College
“We are pleased to have a new campus location to call home on Vancouver Island, where we can continue to offer our world-class training in paramedicine – emergency medical responder, primary care paramedic and advanced-care paramedic programs – as well as professional development courses in public safety fields, such as emergency management. The new JIBC facilities will be purpose-built and cost-effective, and allow us to potentially offer expanded programming to help meet labour market demands.” ~ Michel Tarko, president, Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC)
“With how quickly our Westshore communities are growing, there is no question that people will benefit from this new campus. This will reduce barriers so more people, including youth, across our communities can pursue higher education and skills training closer to home.” ~ Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin)
“Providing post-secondary opportunity for Langford youth has been a top priority for council for many years. This unique partnership will serve residents across the entire west shore, will remove barriers to access and provide pathways to higher learning for all. As Langford densifies the downtown core and creates a walkable, modern city, the addition of the urban campus will complement that vision and bring even more vibrancy to our fast-growing community.” ~ Stew Young, Mayor, City of Langford
“Like many others, I have first-hand experience commuting from Langford to the University of Victoria to complete my degree. Long commutes negatively impact students from a time management and a cost perspective. The addition of a collaborative post-secondary campus on the Westshore demonstrates a serious commitment to investing in the future needs of our community. It offers local students a viable option that removes some of the more traditional barriers of accessing post-secondary education, like finding a rental near campus or cumbersome daily commutes to attend classes. It’s an exciting opportunity for our secondary students to have a path to further education, right here at home.” ~ Ravi Parmar, Chair, School District 62 (Sooke)
“As a high school student in Langford, we’re faced with quite a long commute if we want to go to school at UVic or at Camosun, and that can really affect our decision with what school we go to. When this new campus opens up, it will definitely help open some doors for us to study where we are, close to home.” ~ Connor Hogan, student, Belmont Secondary School
===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:
Island Social Trends has been publishing socioeconomic news insights since 2008 (first as MapleLine Magazine 2008-2010, then Sooke Voice News 2011-2013, then West Shore Voice News 2014-2020), launching fully online at islandsocialtrends.ca in mid-2020.
Founding editor and publisher is Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR. She has covered municipal elections in Sooke and the west shore since 2011. Since 2014 she has covered the news of SD62 School District including board and committees, during the district’s tremendous growth phase.
Mary’s four children attended schools in SD61, SD62 and SD72 over the years, went on to accomplishing a range of post-secondary achievements in BC, and now contribute through careers in several modern sectors including health care, software engineering, animal welfare, and the arts.
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