New Okanagan College student housing, childcare centre on target to open in 2024 in Vernon

By College Relations | April 21, 2023

Vernon student housing announcement
Community members and dignitaries gathered for a photo at the Vernon Student Housing and Childcare project

When she decided to attend Okanagan College, student-parent Sarina Parsons was faced with the challenge of finding childcare while balancing her course schedule. She says it added stress at a time where she wished she could have been more focused on her learning.  

In just over a year, students like Sarina will have access to childcare and on-campus living options at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus, when doors open at a new mass-timber student housing building currently under construction. The 100-bed student housing project and Sunflower Childcare Centre / smúkwaʔxn̓ scəcəmalla itskn snmaʔmayaʔtn is on track to be completed and welcoming students in fall 2024.

“Building secure, stable and affordable housing supports students to be successful at their studies,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.  “Our government is rapidly building thousands of new student housing units across B.C. which helps post-secondary students save money on rent and travel, while also providing a safe, affordable home for students on campus.”

“The Sunflower Childcare Centre will allow parents to focus on their goals and aspirations while knowing their most precious little ones are being cared for in a loving and nurturing environment," said Sarina Parsons. “The impact of this project on students and their families is immeasurable.”

When complete, the new student housing units will be open to Okanagan College students attending classes in Vernon. Okanagan College, known for its health care, social development, trades and business programs, is working with partners to expand options and supports for students across the region.

View construction progress on Okanagan College campus housing pages.

“Having an affordable place to live and supports such as childcare easily accessible are game-changing elements for learners,” said Dr. Neil Fassina, Okanagan College president. “Our community championed the idea to incorporate a childcare centre as part of the Vernon student housing project on our Vernon campus, and it promises to make campus a more inviting and inclusive space for all.”

“We are thrilled to see construction underway on this important project for both the Region and the Vernon campus of Okanagan College,” said Jane Lister, Regional Dean, Okanagan College. “Not only will this provide enhanced access to housing for students, adding 100 rental units to the region will have a broader impact on our community, helping to free up rental units for other members of the community.”

The Vernon campus project is one of three Okanagan College student housing projects in progress this spring. Construction is well underway on a 216-bed project in Kelowna and is beginning on 60 new beds at OC’s Salmon Arm campus and 100 beds in Vernon. The total cost of the three student housing projects is $67.5 million, with the Province investing $66.5 million and the College contributing $1M.

The cost of integrating the Sunflower Childcare Centre into the Vernon student housing project is $2.75M, with $1.5M coming from the ChildCare BC New Spaces Fund, and the remaining $1.25M will be coming through community contributions to the Sunflower Childcare Campaign.

All three student housing projects will be open to students in the fall of 2024.


Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care

Child care makes it possible for parents to be able to pursue educational opportunities, which better positions them to support their families. That’s why co-locating student housing and child care located on college grounds is a perfect fit and how we’re helping to make post-secondary students’ lives much easier.

Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee

This is an exciting time for Okanagan College students with construction underway now on new housing at the Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses. Post-secondary students need access to affordable housing to pursue their studies and lay the foundation for their future, helping to prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, as they are the future of our province. I am so excited to see the first ever student housing units being built in Vernon and Salmon Arm and was happy to join the beginning of construction on the new student housing beds in Kelowna last year! These new buildings will also be reducing some of the pressure on the local rental market.

Helen Jackman, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation

With community support, the Sunflower Childcare Centre will blossom into a vibrant space where student parents and their families can grow and thrive," says Helen Jackman, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation. "This combination of affordable student housing and childcare will help our students fill their educational goals and go on to contribute in many different ways throughout the region.

Quick facts

  • The project cost for the student housing in Vernon is $18 million; the childcare centre project is an additional $2.75 million, with $1.5 million provided through the ChildCare BC New Spaces Fund and the remaining $1.25 million through the Okanagan College Foundation and community donors, including leadership donors Lloyd Davies and Janet Armstrong.
  • The Vernon student housing project and childcare centre will be constructed using mass timber and is designed to meet Step 4 of the B.C Energy Code.
  • Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm have low rental housing vacancy rates (CMHC, 2021: 0.6%, 0.8% and 0.6% respectively).

For more information, visit Okanagan College website.

Tags: Vernon, OC Foundation, Housing



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