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UBC Okanagan is ready to establish a presence in downtown Kelowna.
The school and the City of Kelowna joined together today to announce plans for a mix-used development featuring academic space, office space and university rental housing.
It’ll be located at 550 Doyle Ave., the site of the former Daily Courier building, which means rezoning and architectural planning will come over the next few months.
“Since our creation in 2005, we have grown from 3,000 students to over 11,000 today and we expect our community to continue its development, reaching a population of over 20,000 by 2040,” said Deborah Buszard, UBCO deputy vice-chancellor.
“With this kind of expanded presence over the coming years, it only makes sense that we would create community-facing academic space in the heart of Kelowna.”
Buszard mentioned the site’s close proximity to many of the school’s community partners working in health, tech, business and the arts as big positives.
That includes Interior Health, the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, YMCA, Accelerate Okanagan and others.
Plans have yet to be finalized and approved, but they’re expected to include nearly 100,000 square feet of academic space.
This investment by UBC is part of an agreement with the City, which will see the City purchase a 67-hectare portion of the agricultural lands owned by the university, west of the campus.
The $7.4-million purchase will come from the City’s Landfill Reserve Fund and the Land Acquisition Loan General Reserve.
“The acquisition of these lands allows for an enhanced buffer zone around the landfill and contributes to the long-term sustainability of this important regional asset,” said Basran.
He added that it also creates “an opportunity for UBC to establish itself in the downtown core, a goal we’ve been working towards since UBCO’s inception.”
According to Buszard, the next step will see UBCO faculty and staff work with partners like the City and Indigenous communities, as well as the public, to determine what the new space will look like and what needs it should serve.
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