Yukon College campuses in Dawson City and Pelly Crossing will get a makeover thanks to $2 million in federal money, announced Friday.
Officials making the announcement clapped when it was made.
“That’s our reaction,” said John Steins, mayor of Dawson City.
The $2-million contribution will cover half of the cost of the upgrades. The territory will pay the rest.
Dawson City will receive $2.6 million worth of new facilities. Pelly Crossing will receive $1.4 million.
“Any federal money that comes to the Yukon is great,” said Yukon MP Larry Bagnell.
The campuses have long been needed, and amidst a recession, it’s a good way to
get people to work, said Bagnell.
“So, it’s more like ‘a shovel’s in the ground and let’s create some work,’ which is what we’ve been agitating for,” he said.
Stimulus-focused federal funds have gravitated towards the most shovel-ready projects.
The Dawson City expansion could be started “tomorrow,” said James Wood, co-ordinator at the Dawson City campus.
Dawson City residents have long campaigned for the new facilities, noted Wood.
Pelly Crossing “hasn’t had a proper building in a number of years; they’ve had a lot of issues,” he said.
New buildings mean more dollars for the local economy, and new facilities mean more chance of attracting people with professional backgrounds, said Yukon Senator Dan Lang.
The buildings are yet another notch of legitimacy for the accreditation-hungry college.
“We’re slowly moving on to one day becoming a university,” said Lang.
The Dawson and Pelly campuses will focus mainly on community learning and trades.
The Yukon projects are the latest in a federal campaign to beef up Canada’s science infrastructure. At the same time, sweeping cuts are being made to Canada’s scientific research capabilities.
“It’s great to build the infrastructure, but it doesn’t help, at the same time, to cut the scientists and the money for research,” said Bagnell.
The new funding keeps “Canada’s research and educational facilities at the forefront of scientific advancement,” reads a May 22 release.
Priority was given to projects that “quickly and effectively generate economic activity and job creation.”
“There’s some misinformation being brought forward as far as ‘cuts in research,’” said Lang.
“If you take a look across Canada, and you take a look at the money that’s been put forward to colleges, universities and infrastructure, there is substantially more money being made available,” he said.
The federal government has put $2 billion towards university and college infrastructure in the 2009 budget. Meanwhile, $147.9 million was chopped from the three granting agencies that fund research at Canadian universities.
The Harper government estimates it will run up a $50-billion deficit, thanks to a combination of stimulus financing, low tax revenue, and increased numbers of Canadians collecting jobless benefits.
“They’ve paid down debt in previous years, and that’s allowed us to take a
position that other countries really are not into,” said Lang.
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