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Donation helps build new home for carpentry students at Okanagan College

From left to right: Allison Ramchuk, Development Officer, Okanagan College Foundation; Stephen Wells, President and General Manager of Land Development and Land Sales, Village of Kettle Valley; and Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship, Okanagan College
Image Credit: Contributed

KELOWNA - What began as an opportunity for the next generation of carpenters to hone their skills has yielded a gift that keeps on giving for carpentry students at Okanagan College.

Village of Kettle Valley has donated $62,412 to the Okanagan College Foundation’s Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign. The gift was made to support the rejuvenation of the College’s carpentry and joinery shop, part of the $33-million renovation and expansion of the trades training facilities underway at the Kelowna campus.

“We feel it is very important to support the future tradespeople of the Okanagan,” says Stephen Wells, Village of Kettle Valley’s President and General Manager of Land Development and Land Sales.

“Village of Kettle Valley has been proud to work with the College on a number of projects and awards for students over the years. This gift evolved out of those collaborations and we were thrilled to play a role in helping the College build a beautiful new shop,” explains Wells.

It is a partnership that dates to 2005 when the developer provided lots on which Okanagan College could construct two “Home for Learning” projects. Students from the College’s Residential Construction program worked side by side with tradespeople from Vintage Design, Delnor Homes, and Excite Homes to build two high-end homes in the community.

Profits from the sale of the homes were donated to Okanagan College to establish an annual award fund providing full tuition credit to one or more students in the Carpentry and Electrician Apprenticeship programs.

Over the past decade, the fund has provided almost $30,000 in tuition credits to 49 recipients.

Earlier this year, when Village of Kettle Valley’s development team learned that the College was updating and expanding its Trades training facilities, a decision was made to roll the balance of the award fund into a donation towards the new College’s carpentry shop—a donation which had a huge impact on the creation of the new space, says Okanagan College’s Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship Steve Moores.

“Our new Carpentry shop is bright, modern, energy efficient, and reflects the quality of training the students are receiving and have always received at the College,” says Moores.

“It is particularly heartening for us that donors in our community like Village of Kettle Valley have stepped up to support the College in building this space for students.”

The new shop, already in operation, features a number of upgrades, including an enhanced dust extraction system and a new and improved spray booth which provide better ventilation and cleaner air for students and instructors.

“The best improvement, in my mind, is the rearrangement of the space,” says Alf Leimert, Chair of the Construction Trades department. “The new space is more efficient and the location of the tool room makes it more accessible to students in our outside work spaces. It’s an even more functional teaching and learning environment.”

The new three-storey Trades Training Complex along KLO Road is expected to be completed and open to students by Spring 2016.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign was launched in October 2014 to support the completion of the project. The Okanagan College Foundation is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support. The provincial government has committed $28 million to the project.

More information about the campaign’s current needs and opportunities to support students is available at

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