KELOWNA, B.C. — Crews have started work building a $67 million series of mass timber housing facilities for Okanagan College’s Vernon, Salmon Arm and Kelowna campuses.
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The project includes construction of 376 additional affordable student homes in five new student housing buildings, including a combination of single, double and quad suites, resulting in a 260 per cent increase in the total number of student beds available.
Currently, Okanagan College has no student housing in Vernon or Salmon Arm and 144 student beds housed in a single building on the college’s Kelowna campus.
“Students in Vernon and across the Okanagan will soon have affordable and sustainable housing close to school, so their focus can remain on their education and building a better life for themselves and their community,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “We are listening and responding to student housing concerns in the most affordable, innovative and environmentally sustainable way.”
Officials added the choice to build the housing out of mass timber supports the province’s goal of using local materials to support the economy and produce buildings that are better for the environment.
The project funding is being split between the province and the college. Approximately $36.3 million is being provided through a provincial grant and $30.2 million from a provincial loan. Okanagan College will contribute $1 million.