Vancouver Career College has stopped accepting students due to the health and safety risks in the area due to a homeless shelter. - Alistair Waters/Capital News

Vancouver Career College cuts courses after homeless shelter remains in Kelowna

Students are frustrated by the abrupt halt of a registered massage therapy program

Former Vancouver Career College students are frustrated the college abruptly cancelled courses due to a homeless shelter’s proximity to its Kelowna campus.

Jordan Martindale found a place to live in Kelowna, set up her student loans and told her boss in Kamloops that she was moving here to take the Registered Massage Therapy program scheduled to begin in March. Then the college director told her the college was pushing back those courses until the fall due to an incident involving a fire in one of the classrooms.

“They said part of the school had been set on fire from essentially some homeless people,” she said.

In June, after Martindale and her classmates had already attended an orientation course, she said the college director called her again to tell her the program was discontinued for health and safety reasons revolving around the Cornerstone shelter on Leon Avenue.

“She told me she would give my application fee back, which was $150 bucks, and that’s basically it,” she said.

“All the students had done our applications, we’d gotten our student loans and the weekend before May long we had actually gone to Kelowna for our weekend introductory course.”

Martindale said she and other students were told a week prior to the cancellation that everything was going according to plan.

“We were ready to go, we were just waiting for September. It’s not like people were in the process of applying. The class was full,” she said. “My main question was if you knew about this in April, why did it take you to June to tell us?”

Martindale said it was difficult to find a new program in June because September’s intake at other colleges was mostly filled, and she still hasn’t received a refund for her application fee.

The homeless shelter was originally a winter emergency facility, but in March it was announced the shelter would continue its operations for another year.

According to the John Howard Society, the shelter is set to continue operating until March 2019. BC Housing responded via email that the shelter will not continue operation past the end of March next year.

Edward Jonathan, regional vice-president for Vancouver Career College, said the college is discontinuing new student enrolment and stopped the two-year RMT program, but still has about 60 students finishing their programs. Roughly 38 people were registered for the RMT course.

He said the downtown location is “getting completely out of control…It’s a complete mess. We’ve had issues there for many years but it’s never been as bad as it is now.”

Students are unable to use the front entrance on Leon Avenue due to safety issues and thousands of dollars were spent on installing gates due to the homelessness in the area, he said.

“I can’t even describe to you the activities that were happening there in the morning hours. So we put up those fences,” he said.

Jonathan listed safety concerns such as used syringes and condoms around the building, as well as urine and vomit. Two windows were smashed last week and a garbage container fire recently damaged a fire exit door.

Currently, enrolled students will complete their courses, but the college plans to sell the space and relocate and is no longer accepting new students.

He said the decision was made because the temporary shelter received an extension.

Jonathan said the college attended city meetings with the location of the shelter and communicated with the city about the situation, but nothing was done.

The RMT program takes two years to complete.

“We can’t continue with this and commit to another two years. To our thinking, I would rather have the students be given a choice to go to other schools to continue their program as opposed to start them and stop the program,” Jonathan said.

While Martindale has not received her refund yet, Jonathan said all application fees have been refunded.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Jordan Martindale (above) was left scrambling to find a massage therapy program after Vancouver Career College halted its program in Kelowna. - Contributed

Just Posted

Black Mountain / sntsk‘il’ntən Regional Park starts to take shape

Student volunteers from three local schools work on trail building project

Open burning permitted again in Kamloops Fire Centre

Low fire rating prompts decision throughout Kamloops Fire Centre

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

Incumbent trustee candidate reassesses SOGI 123 impact

Lee-Ann Tiede says mandated student inclusiveness program has some issues

Lake Country Chamber of Commerce to host All Candidates Forum

Residents are being asked to submit questions to be asked

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Vancouver councillors move ahead with policy for duplexes on detached home lots

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the decision is another step toward adding homes in the city for the so-called “missing middle.”

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia

There was no mention of Russia publicly accepting a state-sponsored conspiracy to help its athletes win Olympic medals by doping.

Nanaimo’s Tilray pot stock continues rising, firm now worth more than $21 billion US

The B.C. company’s shares have risen more than 1,000 % since its initial public offering in July

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Most Read