UBCO’s building expansion projects continue to run into unexpected setbacks as the construction of UBCO Downtown causes damage and evacuations in nearby buildings.

Back in March, I wrote an article about UBCO’s expansion progress called Building up UBCO: An update on UBCO’s major ongoing construction projects. In it, I took a look at some of UBCO’s ongoing construction projects, specifically the x̌əl sic snpax̌nwixʷtn building under construction next to the Engineering, Management, and Education (EME) building, and the UBCO Downtown project currently underway near the city core. 

The general tone of my previous article was optimistic, with short-term setbacks seemingly being the only real obstacles in the way of long-term benefits for our campus community. I made reference to a Castanet article by Wayne Moore, in which he described some of the setbacks and obstacles that were causing the building process of UBCO Downtown to potentially have a detrimental effect on the surrounding structures:

“Cracks have appeared in the walls of a building at the corner of St. Paul Street and Doyle Avenue, a result of construction of the adjacent UBCO downtown campus,”  Moore wrote.

At the time, the setback seemed temporary, with the project being continuously monitored and appraised by relevant parties to make sure there were no further setbacks. However, in the time since that article was published, the problems only seem to have compounded themselves.

On March 31, BC Housing released a statement acknowledging an evacuation order by the City of Kelowna for a nearby apartment:

“Pathways Abilities Society has been ordered by the City of Kelowna to immediately begin a planned evacuation of Hadgraft Wilson Place due to safety concerns resulting from construction activity at the nearby UBC Okanagan site. This order affects approximately 84 people who are living in the 68-unit building, as well as their pets. All tenants are required to move out of the building by the afternoon of April 2.”

 This is particularly notable because the apartment building in question, Hadgraft Wilson Place, is operated by the Pathways Abilities Society, a charitable organization that operates the building as subsidized housing for disadvantaged residents. When speaking for a CBC article, Pathways Director Charisse Daley stated that:

"This simply shouldn't be happening and was preventable. We have been notifying UBC Trust for months of the issues, looking for solutions to the initial damage and wanting to ensure the long-term stability of the building.”

In response to the evacuation order, all construction was halted at UBCO Downtown until the situation improves. In an announcement via UBCO Global, the UBC Okanagan Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor had the following to say:

“Safety is foremost in everyone’s minds, including the engineers, officials and other agencies involved. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring the Pathways tenants are taken care of and our collective priority is to help them return home.”

The construction of UBCO Downtown has been put on a temporary indefinite hold, until such a time as the engineering plans can be reviewed and next steps are discussed with the city of Kelowna. Residents of Hadgraft Wilson Place are being temporarily hosted elsewhere until such a time as the structural stability of their homes can be assured. 

To keep up to date on the construction of UBCO Downtown, be sure to visit their announcements website