As the City Gardens development begins to transform the Kamloops’ skyline, this ambitious endeavour seeks not only to reshape the physical landscape of the city but also to have a long-lasting impact on generations to come.
On September 20, 2023, Kelson Group Site Supervisor, Patrick Brown, and Site Superintendent Jesse Scheinbein, alongside Sean Bigham, Electrical Service Manager at Howell Electric, hosted a special tour of the City Gardens site for the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Women in Trades students.
The TRU Women in Trades Exploratory Program is a remarkable initiative funded by SkilledTradesBC with a mission to inspire and empower more women to join the trades sector. Spanning an average of 14 weeks, students delve into 7 to 8 different trades and earn approximately 10 industry-related certifications.
“We wanted to provide students in the program with a firsthand glimpse of a large construction site and a taste of the daily life of a tradesperson working there,” said Brown, reflecting on the importance of the tour. “Since many of them had never set foot on a large construction site like this one, the tour allowed them to witness trades in action across various settings.”
Students began their visit with a tour of the deck and were subsequently guided through the parkade levels, revealing increasingly completed areas as they descended.
During the visit, Howell Electric showcased its expertise, providing students with a unique and exceptional insight into the life of an electrician in the construction field and broadening their understanding of the industry as a whole.
“Howell Electric has had a positive relationship with the Women in Trades program at TRU almost since it began. We have been pleased to arrange tours of our active site for the last three classes,” said Bigham. “This tour of City Gardens showcased a variety of modern building technologies from several key skilled trades. More importantly, it demonstrated how many skilled workers are required to build a structure like this and how important it is for people to take an interest in the field and be part of these exciting projects.”
As part of the tour, students had the opportunity to explore in-slab electrical installations and gain insights into the processes and individuals responsible for ensuring the proper functioning of modern buildings. They also examined some temporary power installations, which are an important aspect of any type of construction, especially for a site as vast as City Gardens.
“Given that our students are currently immersed in the electrical section of the program, we sought to spotlight the experiences of electricians on-site,” explained Amber Cachelin, TRU Women in Trades Exploratory Program Coordinator and Red Seal master electrician who accompanied the students.
Two female electrician representatives from Howell Electric were also present to guide the class and answer any questions.
Shekinah Dohms, a highly accomplished Red Seal electrician, and Chloe Shea, a fresh apprentice who completed the Women in Trades Exploratory Program this past June, played a pivotal role in leading the tour, creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students. Additionally, Cheryl Mullin, Red Seal Master electrician and instructor for the electrical section of the program, also took part in the tour, adding to the wealth of expertise present.
Cachelin, who completed a two-year apprenticeship at Howell herself and now manages Greensleeves Electric Ltd., emphasized the significant impact of introducing students to accomplished tradeswomen.
“This plays a pivotal role in helping our students visualize themselves in these roles, boosting their confidence and propelling them toward rewarding careers in the trades sector. We firmly believe that the opportunities within the trades are not only wonderful but should also be accessible to anyone who is interested and capable of excelling in this domain.”
By the end of the tour, students unanimously agreed that it was an eye-opening experience.
“The reaction seemed a healthy mixture of interest and surprise,” expressed Bigham. “It is an interesting opportunity to see such a building as a cutaway and see both nearly finished areas and areas that just started forming, all at the same time.”
For young women interested in the trades sector, Bigham remarked that there are “huge opportunities available”, advising anyone interested to explore such a rewarding and gratifying occupation.
As these students prepare to embark on their careers, their visit to the City Gardens site will serve as a symbol of possibility, reminding them that the sky is not the limit; rather, it’s just the beginning.