Okanagan celebrities lead trades campaign

Okanagan College ramps up its efforts to raise $7 million towards the new $33-million facility at the Kelowna campus.

Three enthusiastic supporters of both the trades and Okanagan College have offered to head up the campaign team to raise funds for the new trades training complex.

Ben Stewart, Dennis Gabelhouse and Mike Roberts will be front and centre as Okanagan College ramps up its efforts to raise $7 million towards the new $33-million facility at the Kelowna campus.

Stewart, who was the Westside-Kelowna MLA from 2009 until this spring, is taking on the role of honorary chairperson, while Gabelhouse, formerly with Global Okanagan, will be campaign chairperson. Roberts, a retired veteran broadcaster, has signed on as campaign ambassador.

“All three are longtime friends of the college and each has contributed to the success of this institution or our community in a meaningful way,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.

“Their commitment to the goals of the campaign is admirable and I am confident that commitment and enthusiasm will do much to serve the thousands of students who will benefit from our new trades training complex.”

The campaign goal is to raise $5 million towards the capital costs of the project, plus another $2 million for programming and student support. The provincial government has contributed $28-million to fund the project.

Gabelhouse said this new facility will be the largest trades training centre between the Lower Mainland and Calgary, and will act as a beacon for many young people to enter the trades.

“This innovative and environmentally sustainable facility will help to elevate the perception of the trades and reinforce the important role Okanagan College graduates play in establishing a robust economy that will secure B.C.’s future.”

The trades training complex will provide space for more than 2,400 full-time trades and apprenticeship students.

The complex includes a 5,900 square metre expansion, along with a complete renovation and retrofit of another 4,400 square metres.