New NSCC Strait Area Campus residence will help school and region grow

This is an image of what the student residence will look like when complete.

The NSCC Strait Area Campus has taken a big step forward with the announcement a brand new residence in Port Hawkesbury.

On April 8, Premier Stephen McNeil unveiled $24 million for expansion projects at three Nova Scotia Community College campuses, including Port Hawkesbury. McNeil went so far as to say that the investment will “position NSCC and Nova Scotia as leaders in post-secondary skills training.”

In particular, the new residence for students has the potential to help grow the college’s footprint, expand programming and better respond to the demands of growth.

The $7 million, 20,000 square foot residence will house 51 beds in four-levels that feature single rooms in apartment-style suites.

Perhaps the biggest impact from its construction is the potential to offer more and enhanced programs at the Nautical Institute; Canada’s premiere sea school that offers Transport Canada-approved marine training.

NSCC president Don Bureaux said their new facilities will support such important high-demand industry and training needs.

“It will provide an opportunity for the global community, who continues to send people here, to be trained, and that we will ensure they will have a piece of infrastructure that when we welcome them to the Strait area, they will be able to be housed, and continue to collaborate with us,” the Premier noted.

In addition to expanding what it can offer students, Strait Area Campus Principal Tom Gunn said he is “very grateful” to start addressing the “major issue,” of affordable student housing. Noting that it will meet a need that already exists, Gunn said the new residence will supplement rental options in the area.

Acknowledging the residence “won’t meet all of the demand,” since the Strait Area Campus continues to attract more students from outside the region, Gunn called it a “good start.”

In addition to the potential to positively impact the local economy, the exterior design of the new residence will honour the Mi’kmaq culture and the residential school survivors, something Gunn said the Strait Area Campus is “very mindful” about.

Anticipating a “pretty aggressive timeline” for construction, which is scheduled to begin late spring or early summer, Gunn expects the residence will be ready for students by September 2020.

Gunn also teased the potential for more announcements in the near future concerning the Strait Area Campus; developments that are sure to help the local economy.

If the growth of Antigonish town and county following the expansion of the StFX campus is any indication, educational institutions do not grow in isolation.

And hopefully by the time the new residence is housing students, the other announcements for the local campus will be in effect or about to start, which can lead to more growth, spurring the need for more residents.

Once the Strait Area Campus gets in this cycle, it will flow into Port Hawkesbury and surrounding communities, translating into tangible economic growth.

That’s an exciting prospect.