24 HOURS DC/UOIT: Whitby campus covers ground, sky operations

Paul Champagne is a janitor at the Centre for Food. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Our second-year Journalism – Mass Media students from Durham College have tackled a special project – one we are calling ’24 Hours DC/UOIT’.
On Feb. 5, 2019, the students visited particular areas of the Durham College and UOIT campuses, including north Oshawa, downtown Oshawa and Whitby.

They talked to people, snapped pictures and gathered stories from students, faculty and staff about their campus experiences. This is one in a series of 16 stories from that day.From gardens to cranes, Whitby campus has it all.

But the campus itself has changed immensely since its opening in 1993.

The Centre for Food (CFF), the campus’s most recent addition, opened its doors in 2013.

But Paul Champagne has been working there since before there were doors.

Champagne is a janitor at the CFF, and helped clean it before it was a finished building and the final doors were put in place.

His day is anything but typical.

“Organized chaos is about the best way to describe it,” he says with a laugh, “but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

His shift starts at 11 a.m., but he’s “ready to go” at 10:30 a.m.

“Money is secondary now, for me, you have to enjoy what you do, and I love what I do,” he says.

Associate dean of the CFF, Tony Doyle, says “he thinks he owns the place,” with a smile, adding Champagne takes a lot of pride in the CFF.

But Champagne isn’t the only one.

Doyle says being at the campus is energizing.

“It really is an amazing place to be,” he says.

Doyle considers the CFF a community hub, with people coming for a variety of reasons – lunch in the highly-regarded Bistro ’67 restaurant, a class or even a wedding.

There are also many opportunities for students to grow on the campus, including in the greenhouses.

Brad Abel (left), Maria Revita and Daniel Morse are all in the Food and Farming program, seen here tending to the greenhouse plants. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Students grow vegetables and other food for use in the restaurant, which lives by a ‘field-to-fork’ motto.

Enactus Durham College is working with St. Mary's Catholic Secondary School in Pickering to grow their own food with this planter. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Many programs work together in Whitby.

The campus has five schools: Skilled Trades, Apprenticeships and Renewable Technology (START), the CFF which has Culinary Management and Hospitality Skills, Business, IT and Management, Science and Engineering Tech and Health and Community Services.

The campus also welcomes the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program where students can finish high school while also learning at college to gain knowledge of a skilled trade.

“(The faculty) are passionate about their trade, and they take that into their classroom experience,” says Pam Stoneham, associate dean of START.

She says the campus has two unique programs not commonly offered at other colleges.

Bradey Brears is in the Mobile Crane Apprentice program, seen here working on crane operations inside. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Crane Operation, Rigging and Construction Techniques is a certificate program and allows graduates to operate a crane of up to eight tonnes.

The other program is Mechanical Technician – Elevating Devices, which involves work on elevators and escalators. The program will have its first graduates this spring.

Students work on a six week hands-on crane operation as part of the Crane Operation, Rigging and Construction Techniques program Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

There are also other programs that build off each other.

In addition to the Building Construction program, Stoneham says there will be a renovation diploma program offered to this fall students interested in fixing up houses as well as building them from the ground up.

“(The faculty) that built the programs are fabulous, they were experts in their field,” Stoneham says.

Inside the shop area at Whitby campus, students also learn about tools and how to store them. Photo credit: Cecelia Feor

Faculty are what helps the school function, Stoneham says.

“They’re looking for innovative ways of bringing the learning to life, they care about the students they teach,” she adds.

There are other resources on campus to help students.

Two buildings on the campus were gifted for learning purposes.

One is a house from the 1950s and the other new build. Students studying different trades, such as electrical or HVAC can go in and look at how housing construction has changed over time.

“It’s kind of like a field trip but on campus,” Stoneham says.

One thing is clear – it’s the people behind the programs who are critical in Whitby.

“It’s not working for the people, it’s working with the people, and we all pitch in,” Champagne says.