Georgian College presented its marine training expansion plans to Grey County Council on June 3. As part of the college’s goal to deliver comprehensive marine training, it is proposing to build a Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre at its Owen Sound Campus.
Marine Emergency Duties (MED) training is mandatory basic safety and survival training for anyone who works on a ship. Courses include firefighting, survival craft, life raft and immersion suit training and first aid. Students from Georgian’s two marine diploma programs require this training, often within the first six months of their program so they can begin their co-op placements.
For the past two decades, Georgian partnered with Transport Canada to deliver MED training at its facility in Port Colborne. However, Transport Canada divested the site in 2013. Now, Georgian is operating in contingency mode to train its students and has put a hold on the corporate training it previously offered.
“There is an urgent need to establish a training site in Ontario to serve the Great Lakes marine industry,” says MaryLynn West-Moynes, President and CEO of Georgian. “The majority of mariners working on the Great Lakes live in Ontario and we risk losing many of those, new to the industry, to saltwater fleets on the east and west coasts where they now must travel for this mandatory training.”
Currently, the closest English-language institution that offers MED training is located in Prince Edward Island.
Building the MED Centre at Georgian’s Owen Sound Campus will complement its Centre for Marine Training and Research and position the college as Central Canada’s Marine Centre of Excellence.
“It’s a win-win for Owen Sound, Grey County and quite frankly, the entire Great Lakes shipping industry,” says West-Moynes, adding the college will not only serve its 150 marine students but also mariners working in and new to the industry.
At the Port Colborne site, Georgian delivered the equivalent of 6,000 training days per year. International regulations require refresher training every five years and it is anticipated that Transport Canada will soon require similar refresher training for those already working in the industry.
The cost to build the new 6,500-square-foot MED Centre is estimated to be $7 million. Georgian requested $2 million in financial support from Grey County and will also seek provincial and federal government funding support through the New Building Canada Fund. The college plans to fundraise with private and industry donors as well.