The Okanagan College (OC) Kelowna campus is going to be home to a new centre for food, wine and tourism.
The province is providing OC with $44.8 million for the centre which will include modern teaching spaces, food labs, beverage research and development facilities, and common spaces.
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 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.
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.
“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,” added Robinson.
The new centre will also allow Okanagan College to expand its culinary enrolment by more than 125 students a year, and hospitality and tourism enrolment by 450 students per year.
“The centre for food, wine and tourism will help meet demand for skills in the hospitality and tourism industry ensuring that British Columbia remains a world-class destination for residents and the many visitors looking to return to B.C. for years to come,” said Lana Popham, minister for tourism, arts, culture and sport.
The centre will be the first of its kind in Canada for collaboration between students and businesses in the food, beverage, hospitality and resort sectors.
“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,” said Neil Fassina, president OC.