Matthew McRann demonstrates a scan tool during a funding announcement Tuesday. Thanks to $22.4 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments and the university

VIDEO: Multimillion-dollar funding targets trades expansion at VIU

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University will use $20 million to expand marine and automotive trades.

Vancouver Island University will use $20 million from the government toward expansion and renovations for the marine, automotive and trades complex.

The remaining $2.4-million from federal and provincial grant money announced at the Nanaimo campus Tuesday will be used to heat and cool new buildings at its Nanaimo campus.

More than 2,000 square metres of new construction and 629 square metres of renovations will take place in the trades section , according to a press release. It will also allow for the addition of 128 full-time spaces for carpentry, automotive, motorcycle and marine programs.

Two liquified natural gas bays at the marine facility will be a part of this, said Glynis Steen, VIU dean of trades and applied technology.

“If we look at where things are going in terms of LNG, CNG – compressed natural gas – this is an opportunity for us to look to the future … providing the students in marine to have that training in terms of being able to fix engines, etc. In terms of that LNG, it’s an amazing opportunity for our students and also industry too,” said Steen.

In all, $10.6 million will come from the federal government, $9.5 from provincial coffers and $2.3 million from the university.

Former coal mine tunnels beneath the university are filled with water and the temperature is such that energy can be drawn out, said Ralph Nilson, university president and vice-chancellor.

According to Nilson, the university is developing a prototype and pilot project that’s going to be expandable to other buildings on campus.

“We’ll put down pipes big enough that we’re going to be able to draw out of there and use that energy that’s in that water for the buildings that we’re building now and also retrofitting the ones of the newer buildings that we can, but we’re also looking at expanding over time and if there’s an opportunity for other facilities that are coming online, be able to use this energy system as well,” said Nilson.

He said the geothermal project is an opportunity to develop a district energy system that can support the university and potentially sell energy back to the grid.

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