The proposed research greenhouse would be located to the west of the UBCO campus on land the university now owns. —Image: Google Maps

The proposed research greenhouse would be located to the west of the UBCO campus on land the university now owns. —Image: Google Maps

UBCO seeks Kelowna council support for large research greenhouse project

University says plants grown in facility will help with research to aid B.C.’s agricultural industry

UBC Okanagan is asking Kelowna city council to support its bid to build a large greenhouse facility on agricultural land near its Kelowna campus.

According to city planners, the proposed 475-square-metre facility would support research on the campus that is expected to advance B.C.’s agricultural industry.

“The greenhouse will be used for propagation and growth of research plants, and will not include any uses that would not be consistent with normal agricultural operations,” says a report going to council Monday.

That means the facility cannot be used to grow cannabis, as that is prohibited on the site under Agricultural Land Commission rules.

“All research analyses will take place in existing laboratories on the main UBC Okanagan campus,” says the planning department’s report.

“The greenhouse will not be used for classroom, lecture or teaching laboratory, and no scheduled classes or teaching activities will take place at the greenhouse facility.”

To build the initial greenhouse, the university must get provincial approval to ship in 412 cubic metres of fill onto the site. The province will not consider approval for that if the city does not support it.

The proposal includes an initial 475-square-metre greenhouse building, with a fenced outdoor growing area of 256 square metres to start, with two possible future glasshouse additions, which could enable a further indoor growing area of 731 square metres. Additional outdoor growing activities will also take place on other parts of the property.

Access to the greenhouse would be from the main UBCO campus to the east via an extension of a driveway from the upper campus Health building.

The land in question, located off John Hindle Drive, was bought by the university in 2010. It was subdivided in 2016 as a result of the road dedication required for the extension of John Hindle Drive through the original parcel.

Of the 37-hectare total, approximately 26.2 hectares are now farmed with alfalfa.

Currently there are no existing structures on the site.

The area for the proposed greenhouse and outdoor growing space is not currently used for agricultural purposes, according to the report.

Council will consider the university’s request Monday at its first regular meeting of 2019.