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Construction will begin on new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism

June 24, 2024 at 10:48 am  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Construction will begin this summer on the new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism on Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus, which will support B.C.’s tourism sector and help train people for in-demand jobs.

“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,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “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.”

The new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism will include modern teaching spaces, food labs, beverage research and development facilities, and common spaces. The $55.8-million project received $51.8 million in provincial funding, while Okanagan College provided the remaining $4 million. The centre is expected to open for students in 2026.

With a focus on addressing the labour shortage in food and tourism, supporting home-grown education in culinary arts, local food and beverage production and world-class hospitality services, the centre will bring together all food, wine and tourism programming on campus. It will also allow Okanagan College to expand its culinary enrolment by more than 125 students per year, and hospitality and tourism enrolment by 450 students per year.

Okanagan College, with campuses throughout the Okanagan Valley and as far north 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 industries. Through its focus on sustainability and strengthening local supply chains through partnerships with local farms and orchards, the hub will offer a stable source of skilled professionals in food, wine and tourism, helping mitigate supply-chain issues caused by extreme weather events and securing the future of these industries for the Okanagan.

Investing in Okanagan College’s new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism is a part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready Action Plan, which is making education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.

Quotes:

Pam Alexis, Minister of Agriculture and Food –

“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.”

Roly Russell, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development –

“Tourism, especially agriculture-based tourism, brings people to B.C.’s rural communities, and is the economic foundation of many of our local communities. Okanagan College’s new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism will provide people the opportunity to gain the skills needed to begin a rewarding career in the Okanagan – a world class food, wine and tourism destination – and make this is an even more high-demand destination for our visitors.”

Brittny Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism –

“The Okanagan Valley is a prime tourism destination known for its rich agricultural history, wineries, local hospitality, and stunning lake views. The new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism will help prepare the next generation of tourism and hospitality workers, ensuring that British Columbia remains a world-class destination for years to come.”

Neil Fassina, president, Okanagan College –

“We are thrilled to be breaking ground on the construction of our new Centre for Food, Wine and Tourism at Okanagan College. This building will be the gateway to campus, welcoming students, community and visitors, while at the same time showcasing the region as a world class destination for culinary experiences and so much more. This is the place where the next generation of leaders in hospitality and sustainable food and beverage production will come to learn, gain essential work experience, and to build connections that will last a lifetime.”

Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO, Tourism Kelowna –

“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.”

Quick Facts:

  • As of 2023, 289,000 people were employed in B.C.’s tourism- and hospitality-related industries.
  • Through 2033, 91,900 job openings are expected in B.C.’s tourism- and hospitality-related industries, including 9,700 in the Thompson-Okanagan.

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