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  • Vermilion Voice

Government Of Alberta Invests Heavily In Vermilion's Lakeland College

Premier Jason Kenney and Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart share a rendering of the renovated WHT Mead Animal Science Centre. They’re joined by agricultural sciences students TJ Gonsalves (front row left) and Rianne Harrish (front row right) as well as Lakeland’s board chair Scott Webb, Garth Rowswell, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright, and Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education (back row from left). Photo submitted

Premier Jason Kenney and Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides along with dignitaries MLA for Lloydminster-Vermilion-Wainwright Garth Rowswell and President and CEO of Lakeland College Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart visited the Vermilion Animal Science building known as the W.H.T Mead Animal Science Centre on August 6 to announce a substantial funding investment in the College.

MLA Garth Rowswell opened the announcement by thanking the leadership of the College for giving him the opportunity to be the Master of Ceremonies.“It’s a pleasure to have the Premier and Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides here today and joined by Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart. This institution has been here for almost 110 years. The institution provides students the opportunity to live, learn and work in rural Alberta. Students today, like the ones here at Lakeland College are the workforce of Alberta’s tomorrow. Today’s announcement will ensure that that tradition is maintained and sustained and will continue to grow and provide educational opportunities for more generations to come. It is my pleasure and my honour to call upon the Premier of our province the Honourable Jason Kenney to provide remarks,” said Rowswell.

Once introduced Kenney thanked Rowswell for the introduction and expressed his delight on being at the college to make the announcement regarding Alberta’s Recovery Plan to ensure a strong future for Lakeland College.

“I am very pleased to announce that Alberta taxpayers are investing $17.3 million to modernize the Mead Building, the center of animal science studies here at Lakeland College. This project will create about 100 jobs this year for mostly local tradespeople and construction workers. It will modernize student classrooms and research facilities and will upgrade the building’s energy efficiency,” said Kenney.

The Honourable Premier of Alberta Jason Kenney announcing the $17.3 million funding for Lakeland College in Vermilion

He went on to explain that this is an investment in the Alberta farmers and ranchers of the future and in the animal science research that will make them more competitive and successful producers.

“The upgrades to the Mead Building will complement other recent growth of Lakeland’s facilities including the expansion of their Vermilion Campus Farm which will soon include a Bison operation (I am told) plus a new animal health clinic and dairy learning centre and the modernization of the college’s livestock research facility. Primary agriculture and agro-food processing are only going to become more important to Alberta’s economy in the decades ahead,” stated Kenney.

Kenney also stated that as the world’s population grows and more people in the developing world joins the ranks of the middle class the demand for safe, healthy, high-quality food is certain to rise.

“Alberta is going to need ever more sophisticated farmers and ag practices, technologies to win a greater share of that growing global market. The investments we are making here at Lakeland College will, therefore, pay big dividends for Alberta well into the future. Today’s investment comes out of our Accelerated Capital Maintenance and Renewal Program under which nearly $2 billion is being invested this year to create 10’s of thousands of jobs, building and upgrading schools, roads, hospitals, and core infrastructure. Almost $100 million of that capital maintenance and renewal has been distributed to 11 post-secondary institutions in the province creating more than 500 jobs including those that are now secure at Lakeland today,” explained Kenney.

Kenney wrapped up his announcement by acknowledging the fact that everything the government is doing now to get Alberta through the Pandemic and recession is being funded by government debt. “There will be a fiscal reckoning in the future, but it is all designed to enable the private sector to resume its key role as the generator of jobs, growth and wealth including the tax revenues needed to get us out of the fiscal hole we are deeply in right now. I have no doubt that Albertans will overcome the fiscal and economic and health challenges we are facing today. We have the people the resources and the irrepressible spirit to get it done,” said Kenney. He also went on to say that “it was just over 100 years ago that people of this community overcame the Spanish Flu and went on to build one of the most prosperous places in the world. Their children overcame the Great Depression. We have overcome greater challenges than this and we will do it by working together inspired by the entrepreneurial culture of this province which Lakeland College is such an important part. Congratulations to Lakeland, to all of the staff, the board of directors and the whole Vermilion community for what you do to support higher education and agriculture in this province.” Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides took the opportunity to thank the Premier for the important announcement for Lakeland College and also went on to thank and recognize Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, President of Lakeland College as well as Board Chair Scott Webb, along with the student representatives, faculty representatives who had undertaken the very challenging task during the global pandemic. “They have worked exceptionally hard to help provide an online learning environment for our students so they can continue to their post-secondary studies in a time of adversity,” stated Nicolaides.

Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides speaking at Lakeland College in Vermilion on August 5. Photos Lorna Hamilton

Nicolaides explained that over the past several weeks as part of Alberta’s Recovery Plan, Alberta’s government has announced $98 million in additional capital maintenance and renewal funding for a wide variety of post-secondary institutions. “My government colleagues and I believe that post secondary institution are critical to building an Alberta that is open for business, as well as building a modern and diverse workforce and society. Today’s taxpayer’s announcement of more than $17 million provides an immediate boost to the region, and on top of that the resulting improvements to the Mead Building will serve the community well into the future,” explained Nicolaides who went on to say that “This project will help Lakeland College adapt to students evolving needs and ensure the regions future generations have access to high-quality, practical, relevant learning experiences.” President of Lakeland College, Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart expressed her excitement for the college, its students, and the region. “Premier Kenney, Minster Nicolaides, and MLA Rowswell thank you so much for being here today to announce this Government of Alberta investment in Lakeland College. $17.3 million, WOW, this will transform our W.H.T. Mead Animal Science Centre, but it will do even more for our students, because it opens a new chapter of innovation and investment in our programs. The W.H.T. Mead Animal Science Centre is a hub for work-integrated learning, it’s a home for more than 550 animal science students as well as 300 environmental students and human service students. This space for our students will help them build their essential skills for their chosen industries. It is where they will connect and collaborate with peers. It is where they will start their journey in learning and leadership. From here they will graduate job-ready!” President of Lakeland College Alice Wainwright-Stewart explained enthusiastically. Wainwright-Stewart also went on to explain that the funding will also help the centre accommodate new programs and increase enrollment and said that in the “Past 10 years enrollment in the agriculture sciences has grown 100 per cent at Lakeland College.... Today’s announcement is more than just new classrooms and lab space, it’s an investment in our region’s future.” The Mead Animal Science Centre is named after William Mead who graduated from Lakeland College in 1927, who was noted to be a leader in everything he did, and that trait according to Wainwright-Stewart followed him throughout his distinguished public service career in Alberta. He pioneered research in artificial insemination, he also made significant contributions to livestock production and helped establish the U of A Research Ranch at Kinsella. William Mead was inducted in the Alberta Agriculture Hall of Fame in 1989.

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