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Industrial trades school run by 2 unions relocating to Chilliwack

‘We need more people to be able to go through trades training like this,’ says city councillor
A new trades training school for industrial trades and construction is coming to Chilliwack on Venture Place, with this ortho photo from the staff report of Sept. 6, 2023. (City of Chilliwack)

A new trades school is on the way for Chilliwack.

Council approved a temporary-use permit for properties at 7991 and 7984 Ventura Place for a new industrial trades training centre run by two unions.

Coun. Jason Lum called the proposal “a pretty easy one to support” during the council discussion at city hall on Sept. 5.

He predicted strong demand for the type of specialized training that could lead to jobs like forklift or skidsteer operator, traffic control, and road paving as examples.

“It’s obviously something the city will benefit from,” Lum said. “We need more people to be able to go through trades training like this.”

The vote in favour of the permit was unanimous by council.

“We are a joint trades school between the Laborers union and Teamsters union trying to essentially find a new home,” said Tom Miller, speaking on behalf of ( LiUNA 1611) the Construction & Specialized Workers’ Union/Laborers International Union of North America Local 1611, and Teamsters Local 213.

He explained to council they have existing training facilities elsewhere, but they’re limited in physical size and scope.

“This property gives us the room to do the majority of what we would like to do,” Miller said.

The two unions have more than 1,000 members who live in the greater Chilliwack area, according to the letter of support for the proposal written Aug. 25, by CEPCO president Brian Coombes.

“A well-trained work force is critical to our local and provincial economies, and this facility will help provide a workforce that supports further industrial and institutional growth in British Columbia,” Coombes wrote on behalf of Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation.

As the training centre’s 24 seats will be specifically geared for industrial trades and construction trades training, it will be considered an industrial use in the M3 zone when in operation, as opposed to a commercial operation. But it required this type of temporary-use permit to proceed and operate under the current zoning. The permit will be renewable after three years.

Once in operation, text amendments for the zoning bylaw could be forthcoming to allow the school to remain on the site in perpetuity.

The use of the land will be limited to operating the trades school, subject to conditions including that the gravel portion of the site be paved, or DVP to be obtained to waive the paving, as well as obtaining a business licence, and more.

Coun. Jeff Shields praised the idea of amending the zoning to add industrial trades training as an acceptable land use within the zone.

“It makes sense to have it happen,” he said.

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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