Conestoga College to move, expand skills trades program at former industrial plant in Cambridge

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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Conestoga College has purchased a former industrial plant in Cambridge with plans to move and expand its skilled trades programs.

College president John Tibbits made the announcement in late November evening at the empty 25 Reuter Drive location.

The former Erwin Hymer plant is about 250,000 sq. ft. and sits on a 42-acre site. The building will be renovated into Conestoga’s largest campus and will allow the college to expand the skilled trades programs by about 5,000 spaces within the next five years.

“This will be the largest, most comprehensive trades facility in Ontario,” Tibbits said. “It will allow us to grow the trades. It will allow us to operate more efficiently.”

He says the building has great potential because its past life as an industrial plant – most recently a recreation vehicle (RV) manufacturer. There are many features on site that will be used in programs in construction and electrical trades.

German-based Erwin Hymer Group bought the company — then called Roadtrek — from US-based capital investment firm Industrial Opportunity Partners in 2016 and rebranded as Erwin Hymer Group North America, announcing plans to conquer North America’s camper van market.

Three years later, Erwin Hymer was in receivership.

The new student spaces are meant to help fill an expected skilled trade shortage of up to 100,000 jobs in Ontario over the next 10 years.

Campuses in Waterloo, Cambridge, and Guelph that currently host skilled trades programs, will be transitioned to other programming including IT and culinary studies.

Classes are expected to start at the new facility in September 2021.

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