Students at the Penticton campus of the Okanagan College want the city to seek and consider more student housing options. (Photo from Unsplash)

Penticton council urged to consider finding student housing options

Students with the Okanagan College Penticton campus presented at the regular meeting on Oct. 15

Students with the Okanagan College (OC) are urging Penticton city council to consider student housing proposals to help the city’s young adults.

Megan Potter and Sarah Wood, both representatives with the OC Penticton campus students’ union, presented before council about the need for student housing in the city at the regular meeting on Oct. 15. The meeting was hosted on campus to highlight the college’s many successes and the importance of engaging youth in municipal politics.

“Our campus is home to several unique programs that OC students cannot attend anywhere else in the region, or for that matter, in Western Canada. Some of these programs include the OC Human Kinetics, the criminal and social justice program and sustainable construction management technologies (SCMT),” said Wood. “We feel that there is a major problem here and that is there is no set student housing in Penticton.

READ MORE: City of Penticton seeking partners to host annual civic events

“Our campus and our community cannot continue to grow without providing support for post-secondary students.”

Coun. Jake Kimberley asked how many units the students would deem necessary to accommodate the current population, to which Potter said more research needs to be done to fully assess the city’s need. Kimberley said a roadblock for these types of projects is securing the land within the city.

Coun. Frank Regher noted that north of Kelowna there are a certain number of student housing units, and asked the students how this came about to support the other campuses. Potter said “it was a collaboration between a private builder” and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus and the OC Kelowna campus, since the buildings house students attending either institution.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Burdock House opens for Penticton residents experiencing homelessness

“In other cases, some institutions do receive funding (for housing) from the government as well as city resources for getting applications and permits,” said Potter.

Coun. Katie Robinson said she has been in discussions for the last year with the Amy Vaillancourt, a professor in the college’s SCMT program, to “look for ways actively where the city could collaborate with the college through the capstone project working on affordable housing for students.”

“We didn’t get as far as we had hoped to, but it is in the works and we keep looking at it year after year to see what can be done in that direction,” said Robinson. “I’ll keep beating that bush until we get a little more out of it, but it’s nice to know that there are some discussions going on that not everyone is aware of and we will keep working on it.”

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Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
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