New $35 million teaching and learning centre for UBC Okanagan

Students agree to contribute $10 million to the project that will include more student study space.

  • Dec. 2, 2016 5:00 a.m.

Announcing construction of a new $35 million Teaching and Learning Centre to be added to the existing UBCO library Friday were (left to right) UBCO principal Deborah Buszard



The federal and provincial governments, along with UBC Okanagan students, are partnering to pay for the latest major infrastructure addition to the university’s campus in Kelowna.

On Friday, the university announced the building of a new $35 million teaching and learning centre to be connected to the existing campus library.

The new three-floor centre will more than double the study space currently available for students.

While Ottawa will contribute $14.56 million to the project and Victoria will provide another $10.62 million, UBCO students will contribute $10 million over the next 10 years, after voting to do so in a referendum held two years. The money will come from student fees collected from each student by the university.

“This (student) investment is a testament to student advocacy,” said Blake Edwards, president of the UBC Student Union Okanagan.

“In 2014, students voted yes to (the More Library campaign) and agreed to contribute $10 million towards a larger, enhanced library.”

He said the student contribution reaffirmed the need for a larger library—now dubbed the Teaching and Learning Centre— was a necessity today’s students are building a brighter future tomorrow’s UBCO students.

The new building, which will include a 400-seat lecture theatre, an digital technology centre and a visualization lab to facilitate high resolution data modelling in research fields such as advanced manufacturing, materials science and sustainability. It will be connected to the existing library but will not hold books, said acting chief UBC librarian and and head UBCO librarian Heather Berringer.

She said currently, there are 12 students for every one study space in the existing library.

The existing library, one of the oldest buildings on campus, was build for a student body half the size of what it is now.

The announcement of funding for the new centre, with remarks by local MP Stephen Fuhr, local MLA Norm Letnick, Edwards and UBC deputy vice-chancellor and principal of the Okanagan campus Deborah Buszard, was one of two made Friday afternoon.

The quartet also announced an additional $5.65 million—$3.52 from the university, $1.41 million from the federal government and $719,000 from the province—for environmental sustainability projects for research infrastructure on the growing campus.

Buszard said as a result of that money, 11 campus buildings will get sustainability upgrades, and, she added, services and utilities will be provided for what she called the university’s next major project, UBCO’s Innovation Precinct.

The funding from Ottawa for the Teaching and Learning Centre will come from Ottawa’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, said Fuhr, which was put in place by the Liberals to enhance and modernize research facilities at Canadian universities.

“These investments will create well-paying jobs that can help the middle class grow and prosper today, while also delivering sustained economic growth for years to come,” he said.

“By investing in a world-class institution like UBC Okanagan through the Strategic Investment Fund, we are strengthening the foundation for building Canada into a global centre for innovation.”

Letnick, who taught on the campus when it was home to Okanagan University College, and who studied there after it became UBC Okanagan, said he had never seen a project like this where students themselves put in so much money to enhance facilities on a university campus.

Because of requirements of the federal government in relation to their share of the funding, the building will be fast-tracked and is expected to open by early 2018.

Buszard said with its completion, and the city’s plan to open the extension of John Hindle Drive just to the north of campus around the same time, the existing University Way—which currently bisects the campus—will be become a pedestrian thoroughfare.

 

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