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Pushing for a trade

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Sep 07/05) - The Government of Nunavut (GN) is being aggressive in its attempts to secure the Rankin Inlet Forward Operating Location (FOL) as the site for a new trades-training facility, said Education Minister Ed Picco.

While the process is still being negotiated, Picco said he doesn't foresee any difficulty in closing the deal.

He said once an agreement has been reached and the GN has access to the buildings, exact programming will be looked at.

"We've been trying to access the FOL sites for quite some time now," said Picco.

"One of the priorities to come out of the 2004 caucus retreat in Arviat was to try and open our own trade school in Nunavut before 2008-09.

"I'm confident these negotiations will allow us to better that by a fair margin."

Picco said the GN is not interested in the site's hangers, but concentrating its efforts on the five bay auxiliary building and the 200-bed residence.

He said the proposal was well-received during a recent meeting with North American Aerospace Defence Command officials in Iqaluit.

"The next step is for our Department of Education to put a proposal together and submit it to our federal friends.

"There has to be some caveats involved.

"For example, if there was to be an emergency, we'd have to vacate the premises within 72 hours.

"But, at this point, it's pretty safe to say we have the necessary support at all levels to see our proposal become a reality."

More ground to cover

Should the proposal be accepted, the Rankin facility would be able to accommodate pre-vocational training for carpentry, electrical and plumbing, among others. Picco said the GN still has to look at how long it would want control of the building, governance, and the costs associated with operation and maintenance.

"We would hope to be in position to take over the building in the spring of 2006... and actually begin programming in October of 2006."

"Again, we need to be able to meet the caveats, including some security issues I can't get into publicly, and then we'll be able to move forward from there."

Exciting news

Picco said the movement on the FOL site is exciting news for Nunavut, especially Rankin Inlet and the Kivalliq.

"I want to caution that it's still not a done deal, but we're doing everything we can to launch this project.

"We'd be able to do so much with this space, including most of the construction trades and mining pre-trades.

"There may also be possibilities there to provide outpatient beds for the new regional health centre, as well as a firefighting program."