UBCO Board Chair, Brad Bennett. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)
UBCO Board Chair, Brad Bennett. (Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet)

UBCO buys former Tutt Farm from city

by - Story: 55059

UBC Okanagan will nearly double the size of its Kelowna campus after agreeing to purchase the 256 acres (103.6 hectares) of farmland in Glenmore.

The purchase price is $8.78 million.

The property, formerly Tutt Farm, was purchased by the city in 2006.

The UBC-O Board of Governors approved the purchase Wednesday morning. The sale is expected to be finalized by the end of June.

Board chair, Brad Bennett says the land will make up part of over 1,500 acres of endowment lands held by the University of British Columbia at both the Vancouver and Kelowna campuses.

"These lands will be held within the endowment of the University of British Columbia. These lands will be held in perpetuity. Endowment lands are held forever, they are never sold," says Bennett.

"They are for the benefit of the research mission, the teaching mission and all the aspirations that make universities great and all the reasons communities love to have universities at the heart of their core."

Bennett says the university has not yet determined specifically what the lands will be used for.

"I anticipate the university will pursue agricultural opportunities by way of research study and teaching and basically have the opportunity to use the lands as a living laboratory for the benefit of UBC Okanagan.

The property is part of the Agricultural Land Reserve. Environmentally sensitive areas and wildlife corridor such as Roberts Lake are protected by covenants.

Bennett says the university and the city have been negotiating the sale of the property for about 18 months. The funds he says comes from nearly $1 billion the university holds in its endowment fund.

"A lot of that value has been created over time by leveraging opportunities from the original endowed land 100 years ago from the province. The university has successfully pursued avenues for research and teaching as well as housing opportunities and significant donations to the university."

One avenue Bennett says the university will explore is using a section of the property as a second way in to the university campus from Glenmore Road for vehicles and cyclists.

"We should be advocating a Glenmore road connection into the campus. If not for the betterment of our transportation generally, but for the safety of our students, staff and faculty," adds Bennett.

"If we really want to set an example as a leader in sustainability, we'll allow the opportunities for safe bicycle travel and pedestrian access."

Bennett says the timing of any second road access will be to find funding sources and funding partners.

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