~i_Outhouses - Minaker
From left, Quentin Navarre and Vince Paquette, students of the carpentry and joinery–heritage program, finish the roof of an outhouse. Students have built four privies for the National Capital Commission since Christmas.

A collaborative effort that has been years in the making has Perth campus and the National Capital Commission working on a new project to replace aging infrastructure in the Greenbelt area.

“This is the first toe in the pool to see how the relationship will work,” said Shawn Thomson instructor of the heritage carpentry program, to construct among the most underrated of functional buildings – outhouses.

Since Christmas, the carpentry and joinery – heritage program have been working from plans provided by the NCC to build the new privies. The 15-page building plans are some of the most detailed Thomson has seen in his career.

“It’s an unbelievable amount of plans,” Thomson said.” I’ve built million dollar homes that don’t have plans as detailed.”

“The National Capital Commission focuses on a number of design considerations to ensure that the outhouses are user-friendly, durable, easy to maintain and environmentally sound,” said Cedric Pelletier, communications officer for the NCC, explaining the need for the extensive plans.

Normally during this part of the course students would be working on a previous students’ plans to build sheds. This project gives students the opportunity to work off “a much more professional set of plans,” Thomson said.

With site visits from the NCC, advanced plans and updates being requested, the process gives the sense of what the contractors want during production. This gives them a chance to operate in a “more real-world scenario,” Thomson said.

A previous similar contract was undertaken by a private contractor where eight loos were constructed for Gatineau Park. Having the students supplying the labour for the project saves the commission the costs associated with labour Thompson explained.

The savings for the NCC and invaluable knowledge for students has both sides winning.

“The NCC sincerely hopes to maintain an ongoing relationship with Algonquin,” said Pelletier, in an email statement.

Over 20 students have been involved in the project to meet the deadline at the end of the semester.