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$55 million centre for food, wine and tourism coming to Okanagan College

Image Credit: SUMBITTED/Okanagan College

A new centre to research food, beverages and tourism, and train people for in-demand jobs in the sector is coming to Kelowna.

The Ministry of Future Skills is spending millions of dollars to build the Centre for Food, Wine, and Tourism on Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, according to a press release from the provincial government.

The centre will include teaching spaces, food labs and beverage research facilities

“B.C. is expecting 91,000 new job openings in tourism and hospitality-related industries over the next decade, and the majority of these jobs will require some form post-secondary education or skills training,” Minister of Future Skills Lisa Beare said in the release. “This centre will equip students with the knowledge and experience they need to access these jobs and will provide employers in the Okanagan’s tourism and hospitality industries with the skilled talent they need.”

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The province is putting up $51.8 million and Okanagan College is contributing $4 million to pay for the centre’s $55.8 million price tag. Construction is set to begin this summer and the plan is to have the centre ready for students in 2026.

The ministry said the goal is to focus on addressing the labour shortage in the industry. There will be 125 spots for culinary students each year, and 450 spots for hospitality and tourism programs.

Minister of Agriculture and Food Pam Alexis said the Okanagan’s reputation for food and wine is going to continue to grow and this centre is going to help foster that growth.

“The Okanagan has a rich history of producing incredible food and wine and sharing them with people from our province and around the world. Once complete, the new campus will also be the beginning of a new generation of chefs, vintners, innovators and entrepreneurs, all learning and working together to continue creating and serving the flavours that make the Okanagan such a unique place for residents and visitors alike,” Alexis said in the release.

This announcement is coming shortly after the federal government granted Okanagan College $1.75 million for beverage research at its BC Beverage and Technology Access Centre in Penticton.

READ MORE: Okanagan College gets $1.75M grant for wine, beer innovation

Approximately 9,700 new jobs in the hospitality and tourism industry are expected to be created in the Thompson-Okanagan region over the next ten years.

"The new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College will help meet the critical needs of our tourism and hospitality industry, while building a resilient future of educated professionals and top-trained expertise to reinforce the Okanagan Valley’s reputation and brand as Canada’s centre of culinary, beverage and tourism excellence,” CEO of Tourism Kelowna Lisanne Ballantyne said in the release.

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