Lakeland College’s new Energy Centre comes with obvious benefits.
It’s bigger and better. It’s new and improved.
Its laundry list of special features includes a state-of-the-art once-through steam generator, four other boilers of different configurations, a two-storey distillation tower, water treatment equipment, a steam turbine generator, a black start generator, economizers and six breakout rooms.
But as Mayor Rob Saunders watched and listened to speeches from dignitaries and Lakeland College officials at the centre’s grand opening on Wednesday, it was the benefits to his city that grew clearer.
“The economic driver of Lakeland College is very significant to the growth of both the city and the region,” said Saunders.
“If you look back over the past 30 years, the population of Lloydminster has doubled,” he said. “If you look at over the past 25 years, of which Lakeland College is celebrating their anniversary in 2015, Lakeland College has also grown and contributed to our population in the whole region.”
Indeed, students are flocking to Lloydminster.
Lakeland College’s student intake for this school year had already doubled thanks to the attraction of the new facility, which will primarily provide training for the Heavy Oil Operations Technicians and Heavy Oil Power Engineer programs.
Saunders, himself, is a noted alumnus of the latter, class of 1983.
Further, the new, $25-million facility will allow Lakeland College to improve training for third-class and second-class power engineers.
“(Students) are getting the state-of-the-art, they’re also learning how to run a fully operating lab,” said Lakeland College president and CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart. “If we look into the horizon for oil and gas industry, I think it’ll have a big impact on our whole Lloydminster area and region going forward.”
Professional opportunities in Lloydminster await students, too, giving them reason to stay in the Border City after graduation.
“It’s by training people locally and providing opportunities that businesses and industry are requesting and needing,” said Saunders.
His city, meanwhile, could also take advantage of the Energy Centre’s capabilities, which include providing power and heat to other buildings.
“The City of Lloydminster has facilities in close proximity so there will probably be exploratory discussion around some of the opportunities in that aspect,” he said.
A bigger and better Energy Centre with the potential to lead to a bigger and better city.
Perhaps that’s what the mayor was visualizing on Wednesday afternoon as he listened to a handful of speeches before finally standing up to give his own.
“There’s a lot of important people here today,” he said, glancing around the room full of more than 100 people.
It may take time, but the room is getting bigger - and better.