In the photo above (from left) are Russ Foster

Trades training support for Okanagan College

Wilden residential development financially assists construction of Trades Training Complex on Kelowna campus.

  • Sep. 6, 2015 8:00 a.m.

The development team behind one of the region’s most prominent master-planned communities has made a major donation to Okanagan College to support the creation of a new student space and help open doors for the next generation of tradespeople.

Blenk Development Corporation (Wilden Development) has pledged $100,000 toward the Bright Horizons Building for Skills fundraising campaign for the new Trades Training Complex at the Kelowna campus.

The donation will boost both student space and awards, with $75,000 going toward construction of a space in the new three-storey complex where students can meet, study, and relax between classes, and $25,000 to be utilized to establish an award fund for trades students.

“We are proud and excited to support Okanagan College in this new chapter of its trades training,” said Russ Foster, president and CEO of Blenk Development Corporation. “We see this as a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community, support the industry we are a part of, and invest in the future of trades in the Okanagan.”

“With more than 160,000 job openings in B.C. in the trades and related occupations projected by 2022, this new leading-edge trades training complex will allow us to train the skilled workers our province needs,” said  Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.

“When our students see local businesses like Wilden stepping up to invest in their futures, it inspires them and demonstrates the value our community places on education.

The new Trades Training tower along KLO Road is expected to open in the spring of 2016. When completed, it will accommodate more than 2,600 students per year.

Known for their motto “nature inspired living,” Wilden Development wanted to support a space within the complex’s main entrance that would inspire and refresh students, with plenty of natural light and views to green space.

“The theme of the space will be ‘Be Inspired,’” said  Wilden developer Gerhard Blenk, who began developing Wilden in 1995 with the vision of building a master planned community with the least possible impact on surrounding nature.

“We hope that this contribution and the beautiful space it will help to build will inspire students for many years to come.”

The new tower is part of the college’s $33-million 10,000 square- metre renovation and expansion that blends new construction and the rejuvenation of older facilities with the overall goal of achieving LEED Platinum standards and net-zero energy usage.

Sustainability was one of the important factors in Wilden’s decision to support the project.

“When the College shared its vision for a sustainable facility, we knew it was a fit with Wilden’s innovative practices and our commitment to working in harmony with nature,” explained Blenk.

The Bright Horizons Building for Skills campaign launched in October 2014. The college is aiming to raise $5 million for capital construction costs and $2 million for program and student support, to top up the provincial government’s commitment of $28 million for the project.


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