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$40 million expansion at UBCO

Thanks in part to a $10 million investment from students themselves, University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus will soon have a massive upgrade to its Teaching and Learning Centre.

University officials and local politicians broke ground on the project today, after a $40.65 million dollar investment for the project was announced. Along with expanding the centre, a small chunk of that $40 million will be put toward several environmental sustainability projects at the school.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow

The teaching and learning centre is a product of the expansion and renewal of the campus’ library. Once complete, the facility will boast a digital technology centre, a visualization lab for data modelling and more classroom space.

It will cost about $35 million, with $14.56 million coming from the federal government, $10.62 million from the province and $9.82 coming from the student body.

The student body contribution is unique in that it was the result of a referendum held during the 2014/2015 school year.

Tom Macauley is the former president of the UBCO student union. He explained that, a few years ago, students voted to pay a small fee each semester, over a period of decades, which would go towards today’s project.

The current campus library, Macauley explained, was designed for just a few thousand students. With the school’s population nearing 10,000 these days, there just wasn’t enough space there anymore.

That’s why many voted to contribute a small amount each year to help fund an expansion.

“It really speaks a lot of volumes when students, who have no money, are willing to pay for more space,” Macauley said.

And while there was some opposition at the time (many felt the university, not the student body, should be paying for infrastructure upgrades) Macauley said more were happy to contribute.

“Students were excited about making a piece of the campus theirs,” he said.

<who> Photo Credit: UBC Okanagan/ Facebook

Current student Union president Blake Edwards says the investment is a “testament to student advocacy.”

In 2014, students voted 'yes' to #morelibrary and agreed to contribute $10 million towards a larger, enhanced library. The student contribution reaffirms that this has been a necessity for our campus and we thank the government for joining our efforts in building a brighter UBCO for future students,” he said in a press release.

The remaining $5.65 million of funding will be used to support environmental sustainability upgrades to 11 campus buildings.

Both projects are projected to be complete in April 2018 and will create an estimated 137 direct and 103 indirect jobs.

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