Bow Valley College looking to grow in Okotoks
Education: College has outgrown local campus
Wednesday, Feb 28, 2018 10:58 am
Bow Valley College has outgrown its current Okotoks campus and is looking for a new home to expand its course offerings in the community.
Samantha Schellenberg, Bow Valley College Foothills region lead, said the college has been looking to expand in town for a couple years now, but it has not been able to find a suitable location thus far.
“I know right now if an opportunity presented itself we would absolutely love to be in a larger space by September, but that being said I want to make sure the quality is there,” she said.
The college currently runs two courses out of its 1,500-square-foot Okotoks campus on Elizabeth Street – a two-year practical nursing diploma and an early learning and childcare certificate program.
Schellenberg said only one course can be run at a time and each is limited to 12 students due to space constraints.
Schellenberg said they are also in the process of developing continuing education courses in town.
She said the Okotoks campus is the smallest of the college’s seven rural locations outside Calgary.
The college has identified Okotoks as a potential growth area, said Schellenberg.
“With Okotoks set to grow, I think it’s something that our executive is paying attention to,” she said. “But, that said, it’s expensive. Not every facility is ideal for us.”
Schellenberg said the college needs a facility upwards of 4,000 square feet in size or larger, with space for offices, classrooms and parking. Access to broadband internet service is a must. She said the college is willing to consider partnerships with organizations in the community.
The college has turned away potential students due to its space constraints.
“We received 30 practical nursing [student] applications in one day when we opened our intake just recently, a couple of weeks ago,” said Schellenberg. “We had a line up out the door.”
The college has a campus in High River where it offers six programs, including medical office assistant, hospital unit clerk, business administration and legal assistant programs. She said the courses could also be offered in Okotoks if there was space available.
Town council’s representative to the Okotoks Post-secondary Education Committee said she is aware of the issue and has met with Town administration to help Bow Valley College find a location in town.
Coun. Florence Christophers said having have post-secondary opportunities in Okotoks is a priority.
“In order to build economic development locally we need to support entrepreneurs and Bow Valley College is playing a lead role in that,” she said. “For so many reasons, Bow Valley is integral to the financial well being of this community, period.”
Christophers said post-secondary programs can help individuals looking for a new career in the wake of the provincial recession. She added it is vital for the Town to have post-secondary options for youths and teens as they graduate high school.
“We’ve also got a whole bunch of youth coming through that are turning 16, 17, 18, 19 and are going to be looking for courses,” said Christophers.