My View: College The Best Sign of Growth In Welland

Niagara College continues along a path that simultaneously contributes to and exemplifies faith in Welland’s future.

Just some of the trees planted Saturday.

Just some of the trees planted Saturday.

It bucks the trend and sad history of closures, shutdowns, downsizing and moves to other places that have characterized Welland’s recent history. Instead of exodus, the college provides leadership in terms of impetus, it is a driving force for helping Welland grow.

It invested milliions and millions of dollars in expansion of the Welland campus a few years ago, coming to fruition in 2011 with the official opening of the Applied Health Institute, Technology Skills Centre, classrooms, labs, athletic centre, learning commons and student centre at the Welland centre. Other projects and initiatives have taken place since that milestone achievement.

Just this past weekend, the college held an Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration, for example. On the surface, no big deal compared to the infrastructure growth at the Welland campus since 2008, one is tempted to say.

But there is great and long-lasting significance to this.Tree planting and a groundbreaking ceremony for the “edible orchard” were components of the activities. Trees Canada had a representative on site for the event – it funded the bioversity project that is making possible the planting of fruit trees on a site near the existing community garden and Children’s Safety Village.Trees Canada has been around for 23 years and in that time 80 million trees have been planted through initiatives it has shepherded, spokesman Ed Borczon said. Another nice touch was that of allowing local residents opportunity to participate in the planting of spruce, tamarack and several other varieties of trees that went into the ground Saturday morning.

There's a lot 'growing on' at the Welland campus in terms of the environment and sustainable development.(Photos by Joe Barkovich)

There’s a lot ‘growing on’ at the Welland campus in terms of the environment and sustainable development.(Photos by Joe Barkovich)

The fruit trees, to be planted in two phases this year and next, will provide food for local food banks and will be used as a “living laboratory” for college, elementary and secondary school students. Hear, hear!

Other activities offered at the Welland campus on Saturday included tours, workshops and displays. Guests could learn how to build a seed feeder, start a bean garden and build a bee box, as three examples.

All point to how the college reaches out to the community and what it does to sustain its presence as a vital, pro-active presence. Niagara College personifies growth here in Welland and is a beacon of faith in its future. We could use more like it.

(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

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