$66.5 million in new student housing announced at Okanagan College campuses

Student housing announced

UPDATE 10:56 a.m.

Students will soon be able to study in their own communities, thanks to new, environmentally friendly mass timber housing being constructed at Okanagan College's Vernon, Salmon Arm and Kelowna campuses.

"Affordable housing is key to building strong, healthy communities. This new student housing will help students focus on their studies, and its mass timber construction will create good jobs for local workers," Premier John Horgan said Friday, during the live streamed announcement.

The project will include construction of 376 additional affordable student homes in five new student housing buildings, including a combination of single, double and quad suites – resulting in a 260 per cent increase in the number of student beds available.

Currently, Okanagan College has no student housing in Vernon or Salmon Arm and 144 student beds housed in a single building on the college's Kelowna campus.

"Students in Vernon and across the Okanagan will soon have affordable and sustainable housing close to school, so their focus can remain on their education and building a better life for themselves and their community," said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee.

The new buildings will be constructed using mass timber – a renewable resource with a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional concrete construction.

The energy-efficient design also supports the province's commitment to furthering CleanBC priorities, as the buildings will meet Step 4 of the BC Energy Step Code.

The $66.5-million investment in the college project will also increase economic opportunities for Indigenous and local workers in the forestry sector. Government expects the project will create more than 500 direct and indirect local jobs.

The Kelowna project will add two buildings with 216 beds, worth $36.4 million.

Vernon will get one building with 100 beds, worth $18 million.

Salmon Arm will be the site of two buildings with 60 beds, worth $13.1 million.

UPDATE 10:52 a.m.

Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton says the addition of housing units will be a great benefit to students attending the post-secondary institution.

“This is one of those rare moments when you get to see a great idea realized,” said Hamilton, adding the project will benefit the local economy as well.

Hamilton said there has been substantial growth at all four major OC campuses, and the addition of housing to three of those campuses is welcome news, especially with low vacancy rates throughout the province.

“With four children who each attended one of the versions of Okanagan College, I know well the importance of close-to-home higher learning,” he said.

ORIGINAL 10:27 a.m.

A huge boost to student housing at Okanagan College was announced Friday.

Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sadhu and Premier John Horgan announced $66 million in student housing at Okanagan College campuses in Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm.

The funding will result in 376 beds in the three communities. It also marks the first time campus housing will be available in Vernon and Salmon Arm.

There will be 216 beds in Kelowna, 100 in Vernon and 60 in Salmon Arm.

More coming...

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