Provincial officials have had a first-hand look at Okanagan College’s latest expansion.
Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson and provincial Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson received a guided tour of the new trades building on KLO Road in Kelowna.
Construction on the $33-million project began in June 2014, and it is still on schedule to open to students in the spring of 2016.
Once open, the new facility will nearly double OC’s capacity for trades students, allowing for 2,400 students to train at the campus every year.
“Well I think we’ve seen the great progress on this project,” Thomson said after their tour was done.
“It’s a $33-million project, with $28 million contributed by the province, and it’s great to see how far it’s advanced.
“We’re really looking forward to its completion. “I think one of the key points here is the community support for this, a big part of this project’s funding is coming directly from businesses and people and leaders within our community, so that just shows how important this is within our community.”
The remainder of the funding is being raised by Okanagan College through a campaign that launched in October 2014.
The campaign has a goal of raising $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support.
“The nice thing about this is that our students locally here in the Okanagan will have the ability to take their trades training right here at the college and then go up north if they need to, up to Site C to work on the big dam project there.” said Letnick.
“We hope they’ll always be able to work on liquified natural gas, a new industry for British Columbia that our Premier Christy Clark has been leading for the last couple of years, we see that coming to fruition as well.
“And then of course serving the needs of the Okanagan Valley, with all the sheet metal work, electrical work and all the other trades that are being applied here.
“So it’s a good news story, not just for the students and the young people of the valley, but also for the future economical development of British Columbia,” said Letnick.
Okanagan College is currently the second largest trades training institute in the province, behind only British Columbia Institute of Technology.