The proposal to relocate Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus downtown received a boost last week.
In response to a presentation from Bill Laird, chair of the Downtown Community Campus Committee, the Okanagan College Board of Governors voted unanimously Sept. 25 to proceed with plans to acquire a site downtown.
The proposal details a mixed-use development with an expanded college as the anchor. Other planned infrastructure includes student housing, student retail options and complementary community infrastructure.
“For many years the community has been planning for the development of a downtown community campus and this new level of support received from the board of governors is a major step forward,” Laird states in a news release.
Commending the community for its tenacity in its steps to date, Lance Kayfish, Okanagan Board of Governors chair, affirmed the college’s resolve to embrace the opportunity to partner with the community and grow the economy in the Shuswap region.
“It is really heartening to see such strong support for the idea of enhancing the whole community through the power of education,” Kayfish stated.
While in Salmon Arm, the board of governors visited the former JL Jackson school site that has been designated as surplus property for disposal by the school district. The committee has identified the site as a prime location for the downtown campus development due to its proximity to existing residential, commercial and recreation areas, as well its potential to accommodate long-term growth.
“We are excited and enthused by the college’s commitment to work together with the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society and DCC committee on the acquisition of suitable land, and the effort the college will be making to incorporate the downtown community campus concept into their education and capital planning processes,” stated Laird.
Mayor Nancy Cooper added her approval.
“The City of Salmon Arm is also delighted to participate with Okanagan College in the development of a state-of-the-art post secondary institution located in our city centre. This unique partnership will accomplish a number of the city’s strategic goals and will be a catalyst for economic development, supporting all sectors of our economy.”
Jim Barmby, dean of Okanagan College, Shuswap-Revelstoke division, is also pleased with the step forward for the campus.
“I’m quite thrilled that the board has decided to incorporate this concept in the college’s planning process… It’s one step closer to reality,” he told the Observer.
Jim Hamilton, president of Okanagan College, noted that the college will be working collaboratively with the city, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society and the committee to continue its mission of “transforming lives and communities.”