Mystery over proposed location of college ends

Bill Laird shows a map of the former JL Jackson site as he holds up a schematic overlay of plans for a new Okanagan College Campus.  - Martha Wickett/Observer
Bill Laird shows a map of the former JL Jackson site as he holds up a schematic overlay of plans for a new Okanagan College Campus.
— image credit: Martha Wickett/Observer

The vision has been revealed.

The Downtown College Committee announced its hopes and plans for a campus downtown during the annual general meeting of Downtown Salmon Arm Tuesday night.

One of the big questions the public has asked is where? Committee chair Bill Laird put an end to speculation when he said the committee would like to build on the former JL Jackson school site. He emphasized that the land has not been purchased, but it’s the location the committee has set its sights on.

“The dream is four or five acres on the southwest corner,” Laird said.

He noted that the site is about 12 acres, including the Downtown Activity Centre, and the committee would not want to disturb the centre as it provides valuable services. The current college campus is about five acres, but doesn’t have the ability to go up or out. The preliminary vision for the new campus would be to build two to three storeys high, Laird said.

Another aspect of the plan would be a performing arts theatre.

“It is our opinion, a wise place to put the theatre would be on this site,” Laird said. “The  college could use it part of the time. In this day and age, we don’t think it’s wise to build a single-use building anymore. We are very enthusiastic about a new performing arts theatre in the community, but again feel these uses can complement each other.”

Laird also pointed to the possibility of a pedestrian underpass near Wing’s Restaurant that would go under the Trans-Canada Highway and connect the campus to the rest of downtown.

In addition to Laird’s comments, Margaret Hardy, DCC co-ordinator,  spoke about hopes for college programming.

Noting the growing emphasis on food security  and sustainability, Hardy pointed out that the  average age of a farmer is 57 years old.

“So education for agriculture is key, of the absolute and utmost importance if we’re going to be able to continue to eat,” she said. “We are going to be proposing that Okanagan College has agriculture as its flagship program.”

Helping to achieve that vision, she said, is an interest from the University of the Fraser Valley, which has a significant agriculture program, in partnering  with Okanagan College to provide agricultural courses here.

Another exciting plan, she says, is to create a building with a ‘green’ roof and wall, that would provide a living classroom for students.

Emphasized Laird regarding the whole college plan: “We need to see this vision, talk about it, support it and we will achieve it.”

For more details, see the next edition of the Salmon Arm Observer.




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