Construction Crisis at UBCO's 43-Storey Tower in Kelowna

Dayana L. - Apr 01, 2024

In the heart of Kelowna, BC, a construction debacle has left dozens of residents in limbo, highlighting the unforeseen consequences of downtown development. The Hadgraft Wilson Place, a beacon of affordable housing managed by Pathways Abilities Society, has been thrust into uncertainty due to nearby construction activities by UBCO Downtown Campus, sparking a city-wide conversation on safety, accountability, and the human cost of progress.

The Future of UBCO's Downtown Project

With construction activities at UBC Okanagan's downtown Kelowna site brought to a standstill, the focus shifts towards engineering solutions and the project's future. The suspension serves as a critical juncture for UBCO to reassess and recalibrate its approach, ensuring the safety and integrity of not only its ambitious 43-storey campus and residence project but also the surrounding community. Engineers are now at the forefront, tasked with a thorough examination of the structural and geotechnical challenges that have emerged.

A Community Uprooted

The sudden evacuation of Hadgraft Wilson Place on a quiet Sunday, March 31, has turned lives upside down. With 84 residents displaced from the 68-unit building, the scramble for answers and accommodation has begun. Charisse Daley, Pathways’ executive director, mirrors the frustration and concern of her tenants, emphasizing the organization's commitment to finding solutions amidst a sea of uncertainty. The cause of the evacuation? Significant structural concerns triggered by adjacent excavation work of the largest underground parkade in Kelowna, leaving the community to grapple with the visible cracks in their lives and homes.

The Accountability Quandary

As moving trucks lined the streets and residents faced the daunting task of relocation, the question of accountability loomed large. UBC Properties Trust's construction project, a stone's throw from Hadgraft Wilson Place, has been identified as the epicenter of the turmoil. Yet UBCO's response has been measured, focusing on the suspension of construction activities rather than addressing the heart of the issue. This has left many to wonder: when progress comes at the expense of people, who is responsible for picking up the pieces?

Looking Ahead: A Path Forward

As the dust settles and the community looks to rebuild, the path forward is fraught with challenges. The immediate focus remains on securing safe, temporary housing for those affected, a task that Pathways Abilities Society is tackling head-on with support from BC Housing. Yet, the long-term questions about the viability of Hadgraft Wilson Place and the future of Kelowna's urban landscape linger. With no clear timeline for return, residents left to ponder the real cost of development and the delicate balance between growth and community well-being.

In Kelowna, the unfolding drama serves as a poignant reminder of the complexities inherent in urban development. As the city continues to expand, the lessons learned from this crisis will undoubtedly shape its approach to ensuring that progress does not come at the expense of its most vulnerable citizens.


Read more details about UBCO Downtown

UBCO Downtown mixed-use Development

550 Doyle Ave, Kelowna, BC

Under Construction 🏗️ 2027

by UBC Properties Trust

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