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Eco-renovation progress; West Kootenay employment agency plans 2024 move-in

Morag Carter (far right) led members of the board and staff on a tour of the new Skills Centre now under renovation. Photo: Jim Bailey

As one big construction job wraps up in Rossland, and one officially breaks ground in Fruitvale, there’s a significant renovation going on in downtown Trail that is around mid-way through the job.

The Skills Centre’s eco-makeover on the corner of Eldorado Street and the Esplanade began months ago after the nonprofit secured a $2.3-million federal grant for the forward-thinking build. (The Skills Centre purchased the property for $1.3 million in the fall of 2022.)

While the outer structure was shrouded in construction coverings all summer, the sleek exterior is now visible — and word is that windows and drywall will start going up at the end of November.

When done, this river-facing locale will house most of the Skills Centre’s client-focused programming on the ground floor including the community kitchen, as well as access to employment programs, seniors and youth programs, and testing centres.

Upstairs will house administration and provide space for certain non-profits.

The Trail Times was invited to join the Skill Centre board and staff for a tour of the site last week.

For an update on construction, the Times chatted with Morag Carter, executive director, Trail Skills Centre.

Trail Times (TT): At what stage is construction?

Morag Carter (MC): The internal demolition was completed a few months ago and all of the hazardous material has been removed. The last concrete was poured in the elevator shaft a couple of weeks ago and the building envelop is complete, with the exception of the windows, which should be in by December. In the interior we are concentrating on completing the internal systems HVAC, electrical and plumbing, so that we can start drywalling in a couple of weeks. This will be a major milestone in the renovation.

TT: Is everything on schedule? Were there any hiccups that stalled or delayed work?

MC: There are some supply chain delays, but Hil-Tech has done an amazing job of ensuring that we are still on schedule.

Because we are renovating instead of starting from scratch, we have had some challenges due to the age of the building — asbestos was hidden in so many places that we didn’t expect, which added more work than originally anticipated. The building also isn’t perfectly square, but our team of BBA, Hil-Tech and Rochelle Morran, and the sub-trades, have been able to work through those issues and suggest solutions.

TT: What are you most looking forward to in the new build?

MC: We’re really looking forward to showcasing what an energy-efficient building can look like, and sharing the space with other community groups. But for me the most important aspect of the building will be the use of space.

The vision for this building has always been two-fold: to show that it’s possible to upgrade an existing building into an accessible and energy efficient building; the second has been to create infrastructure that can provide a wide range of community programming.

The finished building will include a community kitchen and three large, multi-purpose rooms that can be meeting rooms, or rooms for seniors or kids programming, as well as offices where staff can meet clients.

TT: Is there anything taking shape that particularly stands out?

MC: We’re already working with architects to ensure that the building will meet Rick Hansen accessibility requirements, because obtaining that certification is important to the vision and function of the building.

And we are super excited about the installation of a 50kW solar array. That will be installed on the taller of the two buildings on the parcel and is an important component of the energy package for the building.

TT: When is the projected day of opening?

MC: We don’t have a firm date yet — but we’ve always planned on moving in the late spring or early summer 2024. But there are some long-lead items that will determine the actual date, for example the electrical panel and the installation of the elevator.

For more on the Rossland Yards and housing construction in Fruitvale, turn to page 3.

Read more: $2.39M for eco-renovations at Skill Centre’s new locale in Trail

Read more: #Local News

The Skills Centre is a non-profit aiming to strengthen rural and industrial communities and workplaces in B.C. through workforce skills development, training services, social development and poverty reduction programming. It offers skills training and wellness programs which aims to build a caring community of skilled, productive and engaged people. The Skills Centre is a living wage employer.

Sheri Regnier

About the Author: Sheri Regnier

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