Proposed land donation advances Salmon Arm’s agenda for downtown campus
A proposed donation of almost 20 acres of land, and commitments from Okanagan College and the City of Salmon Arm mean the possibility of a downtown campus in Salmon Arm is getting closer.
“Jerry Thompson, a generous, community-spirited land owner, has identified a 20-acre parcel of land that he is willing to donate to the College for the purposes of a campus in the downtown area,” explains Tom Styffe, Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors. “We have been in discussions with the City and Mr. Thompson about what has to happen to see that come to pass.
“There are some processes that we will have to deal with, but we are excited by the offer and the opportunity.”Those processes include approaching the Agricultural Land Commission to apply to be allowed to use the property, which is in the Agricultural Land Reserve, for a campus. Before applying to the Commission, the College is also going to have to develop education, business and development plans for the property, Styffe explained.
The City has been involved in the discussions and the three parties – College, City and the prospective donor – have signed a letter of intent that focuses on the potential donation and the development of the property.
“The City clearly has an interest in seeing this proceed, from a number of perspectives,” explains Mayor Nancy Cooper. “We realize how much of an economic generator that post-secondary education is and can be, and we want to encourage further development of Okanagan College within our region.”
Council’s commitment at this point includes participating with the College and the donor on the ALC application and being ready to assist with access and services to the property if the application is successful.
“This is a very important first step,” explains Cooper. “We understand it will be at least two years before we can expect the application to go to the ALC, but patience and preparedness will be vital to this process. We are looking at the long-term benefits for our community and this region.”
“I watched with interest the discussion about a downtown campus and saw a community inspired by the idea,” explains Thompson. “Salmon Arm has been good to my family, and I see an opportunity here to give back and help my community.”
Thompson’s land identified for the potential donation is located within parcels he owns in the area between 10th Street SW, 10th Avenue, Foothill Road and Shuswap Street.
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