College overcomes adversity to open student housing
A fire may have set the project back once, but from the ashes of that disaster rose a new building that will provide student housing in St. Paul, with Portage College celebrating its overcoming of adversity last Thursday.
The college’s new student housing complex opened to the public last week, with students and other interested people able to come inside and have a look at the bright and modern units, with 12 furnished, two bedroom apartments available to rent.
In each room of the new unit lies a news report about the fire, which destroyed the $3.2 million construction in February of 2011. Brenda Arnfinson, supervisor of admissions and advising with the college, said the college wanted to provide some of the history of the building and how the college was able to overcome obstacles to open the new building.
“I think it was devastating news,” she recalled of the fire, which hit when the project was already about 75 per cent complete, with painting underway. It was daunting to have to start all over again, but Arnfinson noted, “Look how quickly things can change and get done. And here we are – a brand-new building.”
Darren Pratch, Portage College’s facility supervisor, said there was a “definite sense of accomplishment” in seeing the building open its doors to the public and the mood was celebratory, with a barbecue held midday for those stopping by to visit.
The project offers affordable housing for students, with the college targeting students who live more than 70 kilometres away from St. Paul as potential renters.
“It’s providing an opportunity for students who wouldn’t otherwise have it,” Pratch said, noting that it can be difficult to find accommodation or have to travel back and forth from outlying communities such as Myrnam or Vegreville to come to study at Portage.
“It’s super convenience,” said Arnfinson. Students with families can rent a two-bedroom apartment for $765 a month, or single students can rent a room for $450 a month.
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