Student housing is coming to Okanagan College for the first time in Vernon and Salmon Arm.
Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu announced Friday, March 5, new, environmentally-friendly student housing will be built to meet the needs of students who have said it’s hard to find affordable housing.
“I’m excited to announce over $66 million for 376 new student housing beds at Okanagan College which includes 216 beds at the Kelowna campus, 100 at the Vernon campus and 60 at the Salmon Arm campus,” Sandhu said.
“The investment will benefit generations of students throughout our region.”
The project will be comprised of single, double and quad suites resulting in a 260 per cent increase in the total number of student beds available freeing rental suites in the community.
“We are listening and responding to student housing concerns in the most affordable, innovative and environmentally sustainable way,” Sandhu said on behalf of Education Minister Anne Kang.
The new buildings will be constructed using mass timber, a renewable resource with a lower carbon footprint than concrete. British Columbia is a leader in the use of the product which supports local jobs and furthers the province’s CleanBC priorities.
The $66.5-million investment in the college is expected to create more than 500 direct and indirect local jobs, boosting the economic opportunities for Indigenous and local forest sector workers.
“Affordable housing is key to building strong, healthy communities. This new student housing will help students focus on their studies, and its mass timber construction will create good jobs for local workers,” said Premier John Horgan. “Our government remains committed to helping people get through the pandemic now while building an economic recovery that works for everyone. I am proud that this project will do both.”
Since 2018, the province funded 2,816 student beds at post-secondary institutions.