CFOA in the News: Funding secured for marine emergency training centre in Owen Sound

Owen Sound Sun Times - June 23, 2015

Ottawa and Queen’s Park have approved nearly $2 million apiece in funding towards a project to build a new, state-of-the-art Marine Emergency Duties Training & Research Centre at Georgian College in Owen Sound.

The contributions, announced by government and college officials Tuesday at the local campus, pave the way for construction of the facility to begin this fall and, if all goes well, wrap up in time for the start of classes in September 2016, said Georgian College president and CEO MaryLynn West-Moynes.

“With this announcement, Georgian College and Owen Sound will become the marine training centre of excellence for all of Ontario,” she said during the announcement.

“This is indeed a great day.”

The entire project is expected to cost about $7.9 million.

It will include the MED centre, which will be built as an addition onto the existing Great Lakes International Marine Training & Research Centre, as well as a standalone fire training centre, which is already under construction.

West-Moynes said once completed, all emergency training needed for cadets and existing mariners will be at one location.

Hundreds of people each year will take courses at the facility, she said.

That will pump about $5 million a year into the local economy, she said, as people will stay in hotel rooms, eat at restaurants and shop in the area while attending courses that can take several days to complete.

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative MP Larry Miller announced that the federal government will contribute up to $1.96 million for the project under Infrastructure Canada’s small communities fund.

Barrie Liberal MPP Ann Hoggarth, who attended the event on behalf of the Ontario Liberal government, said the province will match that $1.96 million investment.

Grey County committed $2 million over 10 years towards the project last August, which West-Moynes said was critical in getting the province and federal government to approve their grants.

She also credited Miller and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Progressive Conservative MPP Bill Walker, who was also at the announcement, for advocating for senior government funding for the project.

The college will also receive money from the marine industry, she said. Those contributions will be announced at a groundbreaking ceremony.

The proposed MED centre will be the only approved English-language facility of its kind in central Canada. The next closest is in Prince Edward Island.

MED training is compulsory for all new marine cadets.

Transport Canada also recently made it mandatory for all mariners to receive refresher training every five years.

Safety, survival, firefighting, first aid, lifeboat, immersion suit and freefall training are among the courses that will be offered at the Owen Sound facility.

Several marine organizations issued statements Tuesday to congratulate Georgian College for receiving the government funding.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce, of which the college is a member, said the announcement is great news for the college and marine shipping, particularly in the Great Lakes region.

“MED training is critical to the education of Great Lakes mariners, many of which live in Ontario. With this new facility, students and crew will now be able to access marine training in their own province. We need to make it as easy as possible for young people to join the marine industry, and for existing crew to refresh important safety skills, to ensure we have a future workforce. This funding goes a long way to achieving those goals and bodes well for the future of Great Lakes shipping,” said president Stephen Brooks.

Canadian Ferry Association CEO Serge Buy said the organization was pleased to learn of the government’s investment to support the training of individuals that may serve onboard ferries in the future.

About 9,000 crew and staff work on ferries across the country.

Buy said the government should also do “much more to promote careers in the marine sector and training for these professions especially in view of the looming labour shortage.”

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