College running out of office space

Yukon College doesn't have enough office space for its instructors and staff. That's because the school has been growing rapidly over the past few years, said the school's director of human resources, Brian Bonia.

Yukon College doesn’t have enough office space for its instructors and staff.

That’s because the school has been growing rapidly over the past few years, said the school’s director of human resources, Brian Bonia. That’s a good thing in the long run, but right now it means that staff are in a crunch for office space, and if the trend continues, the school will have to expand.

“It probably became a challenge at least five years ago, when the Yukon research centre opened,” Bonia said.

When the research team moved into its home in the basement of the school’s residence building five years ago, there were nine members. Today there are 36, Bonia said.

“This year we’re going from 241 permanent to 262 permanent and term employees. Within the school itself, we’ve been adding programs, instructors, and the add-ons have exceeded the capacity in the main building,” Bonia said.

Right now there are 12 staff members without an office, but the school does have a plan.

Two unused classrooms will be converted into group office space. Together, the rooms will yield enough space for 10 offices, meaning four people will have to partner up.

Bonia said the office reconfiguration could ruffle some feathers, but the decisions about who goes where won’t be made at random.

“Here’s our process: first we’re going to relocate a dean that needs to be relocated, the new dean and the admin officer. We’ll then locate the department chairs geographically near those deans. Next we’ll look at creating an administrative hub. With centralized photocopiers, mail boxes, etc., for permanent and temporary instructors,” Bonia said.

“Then we go back to the team and are already calling on those who would like to share an office. We’re hoping that people who are within the same field of teaching, for example office admin instructors. From there, should we need to, we’ll end up looking at who’s left over, who needs a spot and what spots are vacant.”

Failing all of that, the school may hold a lottery to see who gets the last spots and who has to double-up on office space.

Bonia said that while many instructors are worried about the changes, the school’s use of classrooms for offices and a last-resort lottery are not setting any sort of precedent. It’s just a temporary measure until a more permanent solution can be found.

Before settling on the classrooms solution, Bonia said the school looked at bringing in ATCO trailers, retrofitting another section of the research area and even renting downtown office space, but none of those options proved financially viable.

The school does plan to expand in the future. In March, the federal government announced funding for Yukon College’s Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. That will mean constructing new buildings, but certainty about how much money the government will give and exactly where those buildings could go is unclear for now, Bonia said.

At present, the school has 5768 students, 262 permanent/term staff and 352 casual/contract staff across our 13 campuses in Yukon.

Contact Jesse Winter at jessew@yukon-news.com

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