New Food, Wine and Tourism Centre for Okanagan College

March 22, 2023

Construction is expected to begin this year, with the centre opening to students in 2026

KELOWNA – A new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism is being built on the Okanagan College Kelowna campus, a centrally located school in the heart of wine country, thanks to Provincial funding.

The centre will focus on addressing the labour shortage in food and tourism, supporting homegrown education in culinary arts, local food and beverage production, and hospitality services.

“The tourism and hospitality sectors are facing challenges in finding and keeping skilled workers, and Okanagan College is a leading provider of culinary and tourism programming in the province,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “This investment will ensure people can access world-class training supported by industry in the Okanagan, and can then go on to pursue a rewarding, meaningful career in the region’s equally outstanding hospitality industry.”

The Province is providing Okanagan College with $44.8 million of the projected 48.8-million cost, for the new centre, which will include modern teaching spaces, food labs, beverage research and development facilities, and common spaces. Okanagan College will contribute $4 million toward the project, working with Okanagan College Foundation, community and industry partners to meet this commitment.

The centre will bring together all food, wine, and tourism programming on campus. It will also be home to the Okanagan Chef School and the college’s fully functioning, student-staffed restaurant, Infusions. The new centre will also allow Okanagan College to expand their culinary enrolment by more than 125 students a year, and hospitality and tourism enrolment by 450 students per year.

Construction is expected to begin this year, with the centre opening to students in 2026. The project will be a hybrid mass timber building with the project targeting Step 3 of the BC Energy Step Code, the highest attainable level for this building type and occupancy.

Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College, said: “Being located in the Okanagan Valley, one of the leading food and wine destinations in North America, we are at a competitive advantage to deliver exceptional training and education in food, wine and tourism. Through this centre, we can expand our post-secondary programming and work with partners in new ways that benefit students in their careers, while supporting local and regional business. We are thrilled to be working with government, Indigenous communities and industry partners to continue elevating the Okanagan’s reputation as a world-class destination – both for food and beverages, and relevant learning opportunities.”

Okanagan College, with campuses throughout the Okanagan Valley and as far as Revelstoke, has strong connections to sustainable and eco-friendly orchards and farms in the region, providing students with opportunities to learn through farm-to-fork and grape-to-glass practices, teaching the importance of sustainability and local supply chains. The centre will be the first of its kind for collaboration between students and businesses in the food, beverage, hospitality and resort sectors. This will expand opportunities for students to pursue vibrant hospitality careers, as well as help meet projected demand for these skills in the province’s growing tourism and hospitality sector.

Business Examiner Staff



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