Recent History – 2004-2006
By Lee Kaiser, 9 January 2006
For the third year, several area students are getting some “in the home” carpentry training through the Northern Lights College residential construction program. In September, 15 students started the latest home on 99th Avenue in Dawson Creek. At 1,024 square feet, it’s slightly smaller than last year’s home, but has better insulation, along with the usual two bedrooms and a full basement, said David Broadway, the interim carpentry instructor, on Friday.
He said the program is of great value as a way for students, especially those in high school, to get a head start on their carpentry careers. The 12 high school students and three college students involved this year can go directly to work as apprentice carpenters at the conclusion of the eight-month project, accelerating what would normally take two years of a four-year course. The students must work through the worst weather of the year but on Friday they were shingling and enjoying the unusually warm weather.
Grade 12 student Cody Roberts is one of those who will graduate this spring and go to work as an apprentice. “I’ve built a house with my father before and the weather is good so I’m used to being outside,” he said from the rooftop of the house.
Phil Chan, also in grade 12, figures he might take a year off to work in construction while he decides whether to switch to journeyman electrician training.
Broadway hopes to have the shingling complete and all the doors and windows installed over the next two weeks so the students can work in an enclosed space during colder weather. As was the case with last year’s home, this year’s project will be sold, according to Jeff Lekstrom, the college’s Dean of Trades.
“We tried raffling off the first one and it wasn’t successful (as far as making money) and we can’t continue doing that because we can’t run with a deficit,” he said during an interview on Friday. The Sr. Canucks hockey team was to be the recipient of the proceeds from that raffle, but there were no profits.
Last year’s home was offered as a raffle prize to any non-profit group in the area, but none expressed interest. Therefore, the home was sold by realtor. The $35,000 profit after expenses will be distributed to four community groups, according to NLC spokesperson Barbara Swail.
“It’s a great project because the students have already built a house and that makes them that much more valuable to the employer afterwards, but we have to recoup our money,” Lekstrom said.
Local students, enrolled in the dual- credit program for carpentry apprenticeship, build the homes under the supervision of a college trades instructor, thereby getting valuable on-site training while also raising funds for local non-profit groups.
Lekstrom said it’s the pricier aspects such as electrical, heating, and light fixtures in the home that hike the cost of the project above what could be covered by student tuition. More typical college carpentry apprenticeship projects would not include those aspects. NLC actually has three home projects underway, in Chetwynd, Fort St. John and Dawson Creek.