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From a parking lot to a wellness centre, OC’s gym is on its way

This past March, hundreds of students and members of the community gathered to watch the Okanagan College women’s basketball team compete for their conference championship.

The stands were packed full with standing room only, but one aspect felt off. The gymnasium was bright purple and did not bear OC’s logo on the court, as it was not their facility.

Okanagan College has been in the community for six decades, but they have never had a gym to call home.

Soon that will change as a fundraising campaign to build the school’s Recreation and Wellness Centre recently reached the $10 million mark of their $14 million goal, allowing construction to begin.

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia/Corvin Vaski

“With a new student housing facility opening in the fall, there will be more students on campus looking for a place to come together and be involved outside of regular classes,” said Neil Fassina, president of Okanagan College.

“Being able to participate in sports and recreation is so important – not only to relieve stress but also to meet new people and build relationships.”

The new building will serve more than 7,000 students a year and not only benefit individuals by hosting sports but also community events, with faculty mentioning the bonus of holding ceremonies indoors instead of outside in the rain.

The new facility will include:

  • Multipurpose gymnasium for students, staff and the community.
  • Competition-size court to accommodate a range of sports, recreational activities and community events, including convocation and commencement ceremonies.
  • Retractable spectator seating for 700+.
  • Fitness suite with state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Two-lane suspended indoor running track.

Helping to lead the charge in the construction of the facility is Cliff and Lois Serwa, who are the honorary chairs and have donated a large amount of money to the cause.

“It's a great initiative for the students. It's a great initiative for the college,” said Cliff Serwa.

“It will be a home for the rep teams, but more importantly, every student here can take part in physical exercise for their mental, as well as physical health.”

<who> Photo Credit: NowMedia/Corvin Vaski

Serwa shared with the crowd on Thursday that it has been a long journey to get to this point in the construction of the building, reflecting on his time as an MLA and advocating for a gym at what is now UBCO.

“After years of lobbying the Ministry of Advanced Education, we got funding for the gymnasium,” explained Serwa.

“When the schism came, the University of British Columbia Okanagan was the beneficiary of the gymnasium that I worked long and hard to achieve. So today, we're still on the road building the Wellness Centre for Okanagan College on (the) Okanagan campus.”

The centre will be built offsite and delivered to the college as a prefabricated system, with construction expected to be completed in Fall 2026 at what is currently a parking lot on campus.

More information on the facility and how to donate to the campaign can be found online at this link.



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