Printer-friendly version   




For Immediate Release


Sept. 23, 2008

Office of the Premier

Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development




KELOWNA – Premier Gordon Campbell kicked-off construction today for the home of the Southern Medical Program, which will train doctors in the Okanagan for the first time in B.C. history.


            “The new Health Sciences Centre will allow the expansion of B.C.’s innovative distributed medical education program to southern B.C. and the Okanagan and Thompson region communities,” said Premier Campbell. “Between 1980 and 2001, not a single seat was added to medical education in B.C. Since 2001, we have expanded doctor training in B.C. by doubling the number of first year medical training seats and making medical education available in the North and Vancouver Island. This new facility continues that success and will be home to a program that will see doctors trained right here in the Okanagan for the first time ever.”


The groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of construction of the Health Sciences Centre, as well as UBC Okanagan’s new Arts and Sciences 2 Building, and the Engineering/Management Building. The three projects are supported by a total of almost $100 million in provincial funding.


             When it opens in 2011, the new Health Sciences Centre will accommodate 32 first-year, full-time medical students, increasing the number of medical students in various stages of training to 128 by 2014. The government is providing the entire project funding of $33.7 million to build the centre. The 4,266-square-metre facility will provide high-tech classrooms and lecture theatres networked with the other three UBC medical program locations in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George, undergraduate and research laboratories, and faculty offices, as well as linkages to campus infrastructure. 


Provincial funding of $25.6 million is also helping to build the $42.2-million Arts and Sciences 2 Building which will house a large lecture theatre and smaller classrooms, undergraduate teaching labs, research labs, academic offices and support spaces, within a total area of 8,940 square metres.


“The provincial government is helping to build state-of-the-art labs, classrooms and lecture theatres to ensure B.C.’s post-secondary system is second to none,” said Murray Coell, Minister for Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. “These new buildings will allow UBC Okanagan to provide world-class education and training opportunities for residents of the region, and highly qualified graduates for its employers.”


“This expansion for medical education provides unique opportunities and future benefits for our community in terms of education, research and health services,” said Sindi Hawkins, MLA for Kelowna-Mission. “The construction of this centre ensures that we will train doctors right here in the Okanagan to meet the health needs of our citizens.”  


“This program is creating new opportunities for students to train and build meaningful medical careers in the Okanagan,” said Rick Thorpe, MLA for Okanagan-Westside. “The medical school will not only draw students, it will draw top faculty and researchers. When you expand the capacity for education and research, the community will benefit from a boost to both the social and economic sectors.”


“We are excited that this historic project is moving ahead,” said Al Horning, MLA Kelowna-Lake Country. “This state-of-the-art facility is just what we need as South Interior communities continue to grow each year. It also adds to our government’s record of leading the way in Canada in expanding our supply of rural health professionals.”


The new engineering/management building will provide space for undergraduate, graduate and applied research programs for engineering and management programs. The Province has contributed $40 million towards the $74-million, 15,028 square-metre facility, which will include general classrooms and lecture theatre, teaching labs, research labs and student and building support space.


“This is an extraordinary occasion as we celebrate the beginning of three major new projects at UBC Okanagan,” said Stephen Toope, president of UBC. “The provincial government’s investment in these buildings represents a major expansion of our research and teaching capacity as we continue toward our shared goal of increasing access to the world-class UBC degree in the Okanagan.”


Since 2001, the Province has invested more than $1.5 billion in capital expansion, over $1.7 billion in research, and increased operating funding to post-secondary institutions by 40 per cent.







Bridgitte Anderson

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

604 307-7177

Richard Chambers

Communications Director

Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development

250 952-6508

250 361-7241 (cell)


For more information on government services or to subscribe to the Province’s news feeds using RSS, visit the Province’s website at