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Mission mayor talks local industry, seeks partnership with UFV Board of Governors

Mission mayor Randy Hawes, Mission’s chief assistant officer (CAO) Ron Poole, and assistant superintendent Randy Huth were invited to speak at the October 1 Board of Governors meeting, which was held last Thursday at the Mission campus.

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By Kodie Cherrille (The Cascade) – Email

Mission mayor Randy Hawes, Mission’s chief assistant officer (CAO) Ron Poole, and assistant superintendent Randy Huth were invited to speak at the October 1 Board of Governors meeting, which was held last Thursday at the Mission campus.

In his update, Hawes elaborated on the city’s plan to create what he calls a “centre of innovation.” The proposed centre would house manufacturers and businesses specializing in agricultural technology.

“Those [who] come out of UFV with great skills could use that innovation centre, and I’m hoping we’re able to explore that,” he said. “However, we do not have enough industrial land for that,” he added. Hawes said he intends to take land out of the Agricultural Land Reserve to develop the centre, in hopes that it will create jobs for those living in Mission.

He then spoke of a recent meeting with UFV president Mark Evered and VP academic Eric Davis regarding Mission’s Riverside College, which is facing challenges with enrollment and accreditation. Hawes hopes to see new programs developed in co-ordination with UFV, as well as accreditation for trades courses taught at Riverside. Adults taking unaccredited courses are unable to take out a student loan from the provincial government. Assistant superintendent Randy Huth spoke to this: “We had to really look at Riverside. It gets challenging, unless you have the numbers … we need to find ways to support it.”

CAO Ron Poole also briefly spoke on the city’s priority to have enough workers in 20 years to build and maintain oil pipelines in B.C.

“Most of those workers will come from the lower mainland,” said Poole. Poole has recently moved from Kitimat, the proposed ending point for the Northern Gateway pipeline. Hawes introduced Poole as a “peacemaker” who consolidated differing opinions over whether the pipeline should receive an OK from the municipality.

Hawes also asked UFV to consider using Mission’s Clarke Theatre as part of the university’s theatre program, which is primarily situated at the Chilliwack North campus that is currently for sale. In June 2015, the Mission City Council had given the Clarke Theatre $75,000 to keep it from closing.

“We can’t let it close,” said Hawes to the board. “It’s an iconic part of this community.”

Finally, Hawes suggested that UFV begin a film industry program in Mission, which would entail site-building, stunt work, and production work. Citing the weak Canadian dollar, Hawes predicted that B.C.’s film industry will see more traffic from filmmakers south of the border.

“We’re going to see more films up here … we just need training and more knowledge,” he said.

After dinner, business was brief. In his report, Mark Evered noted that there has been a significant rise in international student enrollment at UFV: 926 students this semester — about 38 per cent more than in 2013. Evered also reminded those present to remain non-partisan during the election period — but encouraged engagement with the election, commending the Student Union Society’s participation in the Get Out the Vote campaign. Two items were brought forward from last month’s in-camera session: the membership on board committees for 2015-16; and UFV’s statement of financial information, which discloses the salaries and expenses of all UFV employees making over $75,000, as well as payments to goods and services suppliers.

The public meeting adjourned at around 6:30 p.m., and the following in-camera session lasted about 20 minutes. The Board of Governors will meet via teleconference on November 5. The next in-person meeting will be at the Chilliwack’s CEP campus on December 3, 2015.

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