City council takes aim at proposed college cutbacks

Prince Rupert city council has expressed its disapproval of Northwest Community College (NWCC) decreasing academic courses

Prince Rupert city council has expressed its disapproval of Northwest Community College (NWCC) decreasing academic courses at its Prince Rupert campus.

A release put out in April by the Northwest Community College Students’ Union indicated college officials were proposing to cut up to 40 university courses throughout northern campuses, including 15 in Prince Rupert, due to declining enrolment in academic programs throughout the region.

Coun. Gurvinder Randhawa highlighted his concerns during a council meeting earlier this month.

“We should keep those courses here. It’s really important, especially now that we’re expecting growth in our community,” he said.

“We need to keep those jobs and those courses here.”

Coun. Joy Thorkelson said removing academic courses offered at Prince Rupert’s campus would impact a significant number of students currently enrolled at the school or those planning to attend in the coming years.

“Otherwise it becomes only the people that can afford to live out of town who are going to get an education. I think that’s totally unfair,” she said.

Thorkelson noted the land that NWCC’s Prince Rupert campus sits on was “basically donated” by the city and is solely for the use of an educational facility.

“There should be a college on that land and not a half college or quarter college … our children in this community are entitled to a secondary education [and not just for trades]. We want children to come back to this community who turn out to be the doctors, lawyers and engineers,” she said.

The City of Prince Rupert will send a letter stating its opposition to the proposed cuts to NWCC and the appropriate provincial minister.

College communications director Sarah Zimmerman said no decisions have been made but that the college needs to respond to budget pressures and lower enrolments specifically in its academic programs.