UBC Okanagan’s vision for its new downtown Kelowna campus is to bring students and faculty closer to the community at large – bring campus activities to the heart of the city.
The statement by a handful of university deans and officials was made Tuesday evening during a virtual open house on the new downtown campus.
The university announced in June of last year it had purchased the former site of the Kelowna Daily Courier for the purpose of building a downtown campus.
The site, which will be developed by Kelowna-based Mission Group, will include three towers.
One of those, facing Doyle Avenue, will include about 80,000 square feet devoted to university activities, with another 20,000 square feet of expansion space. In the near future, officials say the additional space could be used as rental space for partners aligned with the university.
The other two towers on the north side of the property would be for Mission Group use. One is expected to be an office tower, the other residential.
Ron Einarson, VP of finance and operations at the Kelowna campus, says there will be rental housing available on the upper floors of the UBCO building, but doesn’t anticipate it will a traditional residence.
“It is going to be characterized as university focused housing,” he said.
“It is intended to be a rental facility. This is not going to be condos. We see the housing as to compliment our activities in the downtown area for students, faculty and staff.”
The downtown campus will include health and social development programs such as nursing, social work and exercise sciences, arts and social sciences programs among others.
It will also include an art gallery, something the university campus currently does not have.
In announcing the gallery, dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Bryce Traister says he believes an art gallery is the one building that signals a university campus has arrived on the world stage.
The university currently has over 700 pieces of art in its collection.
“The time has come, and now we have the opportunity to display some of that art to our community,” said Traister.
“One of the major pieces of that gallery will be to promote a daily opportunity for community engagement, between the students and the faculty of the university and also with the residents of Kelowna who we know are art lovers.”
The building will also feature a public engagement and learning suite which will enable the university to deliver programs and activities to the broader community.
And, while a set of activities has not yet been determined, Faculty of Management dean Roger Sugden says it will definitely include a wine tasting program.
“We are developing that with international partners with the view, if we can, of piloting it before the downtown campus opens,” he said.
“It will be equipped to the highest possible standards, and enable a group of about 30 people, residents of the region, visitors as well as students to learn how to taste the wine knowledgeably, and be able to identify the characteristics of the wine.”
While design work is still being done and rezoning still must be approved by the city, UBCO hopes to begin construction in the spring of 2022 with a planned opening date of September, 2024.