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Work crews heading to Kelowna’s UBCO downtown campus site in a matter of days

This is a rendering of the proposed inside of the UBCO downtown campus in Kelowna.
This is a rendering of the proposed inside of the UBCO downtown campus in Kelowna.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

Now that Kelowna city council has agreed to let UBCO build a 46-storey downtown campus with residences, the real physical work on the project is about to begin.

Earlier this week, council agreed to let it be the tallest building in Kelowna by creating a special zone just for the university.

“Hazardous material abatement” will start shortly in the old Kelowna Daily Courier building where the new campus will be located, according to an email from Rob Brown, vice-president and chief operating officer of UBC Properties Trust.

The plan is to have that done by the end of August so demolition can start.

“Our best estimates, at the moment, are for early site preparation work to begin in the fall of 2022 with construction to start in the first quarter of 2023,” Brown wrote in an email to “We’re hoping for occupancy in 2026. That said, these are only estimates and subject to development permit approvals from the City of Kelowna and construction costs meeting expectations.”

The university bought the property at 550 Doyle Ave. in June 2020 and originally had a timeline to start construction in mid to late 2022, so it is starting a bit behind that original target.

Last year the expectation was that the campus would open in late 2024 or early 2025. At that time, too, the vision was for a building of about 20 storeys.

READ MORE: UBCO to break ground on downtown Kelowna campus in 2022

It had been used as a homeless shelter for the last two years but closed in June.

The campus will occupy part of the property on the corner of Doyle Avenue and St. Paul Street. The rest of the land will be subdivided and the Mission Group has plans to build two towers there.

About 10 floors of the campus will be for educational purposes, including nursing and social work schools. There will be office and retail spaces along with a “public engagement suite” and art gallery.

An art gallery open to the public will be included.
An art gallery open to the public will be included.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

At the same meeting, Kelowna city council approved the 25-storey controversial highrise at 350 Doyle Ave.

That’s the site of the former RCMP building. The new tower sparked opposition when the city put it on the market with the Kelowna Legacy Group arguing it should be part of a more comprehensive redevelopment of the city’s civic and cultural district. It triggered more opposition when the original 13-storey design was changed to 25 storeys.

READ MORE: Legacy group calls for investigation into 'bait and switch' on former RCMP site

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