An expanded Capilano College campus in Squamish will be at the forefront of tourism training and leadership in B.C.
The provincial government announced on Monday (Aug. 23) that it has developed a new consortium to lead tourism and hospitality training initiatives in the province.
As part of the initiative, the province announced that the British Columbia Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Tourism will be located at Capilano College's Squamish campus.
Details of just what this means for the campus in Squamish are not known at this time. Greg Lee, the president of Capilano College, said that there is much work to be done in the future to implement the new initiative.
"The details of how the centre is going to operate are yet to be developed," Lee said after the announcement was made at a park in North Vancouver.
North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Katherine Whittred said at the news conference that the provincial government has developed a new consortium to lead tourism and hospitality training initiatives to help prepare B.C. to host events like the 2010 Winter Games.
The consortium will play a key role in directing the new centre at the college's Squamish campus."They set the parameters and we'll work with the other institutions to make it work," said Lee.
The consortium will work with Capilano College and other institutions around the province.
The province will invest approximately $1.2 million in special one-time funding to enhance and expand hospitality and tourism training programs at post-secondary institutions throughout the province.
"We'll be working very closely with all the other institutions around the province," Lee said.
Vancouver Community College (VCC) is getting a centre similar to the one in Squamish. The VCC will have the British Columbia Centre for Leadership and Innovation in Hospitality.
The consortium announced this week is to be called the British Columbia Tourism and Hospitality Education and Training Consortium. The group will bring together the learning institutions, industry and government to make sure that the initiative is successful.
"The new center for leadership and innovation in tourism at our Squamish campus will have far-reaching benefits for all of the communities of B.C.," Lee said.
"We plan to expand tourism training to the benefit of communities in the Howe Sound corridor as we head towards the 2010 Winter Games."
The announcement doesn't mean there will be an immediate expansion of the Squamish campus, but Lee said that a major expansion will take place in Squamish in the long term. "We hope to form some partnerships to make that happen," Lee said. "Eventually the Squamish campus is going to have to be as large as the one in Lynnmour [North Vancouver]."
In the meantime, Lee said the announcement raises the profile of the college and its campus in Squamish.
"We think we have a pretty good start of a tourism program up there and this will really help," said Lee. "Making Squamish a tourism education destination is an objective that is not unreasonable."
The 15-member consortium that is tasked with overseeing the program includes six industry representatives, six education sector representatives and three people representing government.Lee is an education sector representative and Kirby Brown, the Whistler/ Blackcomb director of employee experience, is an industry representative.
Brown said he views the initiatives' creation - and the fact that one of the two learning centres is to be in Squamish - as positive for the corridor.
"It's an interesting approach and one that I'm excited to be invited to participate in," Brown said. "Prior to the establishment of this consortium, there's definitely been a lot of criticism on the part of industry in terms of the disconnect between our needs as an industry and what government was doing to help us move forward.
"What they've done is put it back in our lap and made us part of the initiative to make sure that we have a strong base of future employees. They've engaged some good, smart people from various sectors and backgrounds who will help us narrow the gap between where we are now and where we need to be in 2010."