UBC announces satellite campus downtown


UBC, together with the City of Kelowna, announced today a significant new university presence in downtown Kelowna with plans for a mixed-use development featuring community-facing academic space, office space and university rental housing.

The site for the new development is centrally located at the Daily Courier location at 550 Doyle Avenue, with rezoning and architectural planning set to begin the coming months.

While the university has long had an off-campus presence in Kelowna—through the Kelowna General Hospital Clinical Academic Campus, the Okanagan Innovation Centre, the Rotary Centre for the Arts, the Okanagan Regional Library downtown branch and through public events at the Kelowna Community Theatre—UBC Okanagan Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal Deborah Buszard says that a downtown presence is the logical next step in the evolution of the campus.

“Since our creation in 2005, we have grown from 3,000 students to over 11,000 today and we expect our community to continue its development, reaching a population of over 20,000 by 2040,” says Buszard. “With this kind of expanded presence over the coming years, it only makes sense that we would create community-facing academic space in the heart of Kelowna, in close proximity to many of our community partners working in health, tech, business, and arts and culture.”

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran agrees.

“UBC and the City have worked together on many projects over the years and this was a golden opportunity for us to proactively advocate for the university’s presence downtown,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “This will undoubtedly create a wealth of economic and societal benefits and contribute enormously to the cultural fabric of our downtown.”

While the COVID-19 outbreak has created unprecedented health and economic challenges, UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Santa Ono says the university’s commitment to supporting long-term community resilience through education and research remains steadfast.

“The situation globally is difficult, but we know that British Columbia will emerge stronger from this experience if we work together. This project demonstrates UBC’s commitment to the future of the Okanagan and the Interior region of BC while creating new opportunities and ways for students and community partners to access all that UBC has to offer,” says Ono. “As BC transitions to a phased re-opening of the economy over the coming weeks and months, UBC is pleased to be able to play a role in the recovery.”

Plans for the new building have yet to be finalized and approved by the City of Kelowna but are anticipated to include 80,000-100,000 square feet of academic space to support community-facing programs and services. Early concepts also include potential for office and residential space.

The investment by UBC was part of an agreement with the City of Kelowna where the City will purchase a 67-hectare portion of the agricultural lands owned by the university to the west of the Okanagan campus, subject to approval from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training.