City of Powell River Council approved spending up to $2,000 to send Mayor Dave Formosa to China as part of a delegation to expand educational opportunities in Powell River.
During a recent council meeting, councillors heard about efforts being made to bring Chinese secondary school students to Powell River and to greatly expand enrolment.
Councillor Jim Palm said he wanted to make sure that everyone was aware there are 80 to 90 Chinese youth currently in Powell River. Sino Bright School has 15 campuses in China offering international education programs, and Powell River is one of the school’s offshore educational locations.”
Palm told council the school is starting up its latest educational program.
In terms of the future of Powell River, population numbers are shrinking and the mayor, the school district, Vancouver Island University and Sino Bright are working hard to bring youth to this community to fill seats at Brooks Secondary School, said Palm.
“It’s a good sign that they’ve sent 80 students already for this school year and there are more to come in the future,” he said.
Formosa said he has been working with Jay Yule, School District 47 superintendent of schools, plus the principals of Sino Bright. Yule has already visited China and promoted summer and winter programs for international students. He will likely accompany the mayor on his visit. There has been discussion about Powell River having an office in China that will be covered at no cost to this community to promote this city there.
“The building where it’s at is an international business building,” Formosa said. A lot of work has already gone into attracting Sino Bright to build a permanent school here, he said. “It will be the flagship of the Canadian operations. The school would hold up to 400 and some students.”
Although the current students are placed at Brooks, Formosa said there is a site the proponents would like to declare but it is not ready for the announcement.
“Hopefully, they’ll buy that property and students will come here from grade 10 to 12.”
He anticipates that family members will come to Powell River and stay with their children and this would bring some economic enhancement to the community including expenditures for housing and rentals, clothing and groceries.
“We started with 30 or 40 summer students and last year we had 80 summer students,” Formosa said. “Now we have 80 full time students. It’s moving in the right direction. Specialized education and specialized university education programs have been part of our economic development revitalization plan.”
Formosa said Powell River is attempting to be unique in offering courses that are not available everywhere else. “Powell River is a safe community, a beautiful [community] and an arts and culture community, so education is something we are banking on.”
The mayor’s travel expenses will be funded from the mayor and council travel budget. Council has been told that all expenses when arriving in China are covered by the hosts.