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UBC Okanagan skyscraper build forces nearby business to close

Click to play video: 'Kelowna businesses damaged by nearby construction'
Kelowna businesses damaged by nearby construction
WATCH: A workspace building in Kelowna that has been around for more than a decade has been forced to close its doors and its taking 12 businesses with it. As Victoria Femia reports all the tenants have to relocate, and it's all due to the construction of a nearby build – Dec 29, 2023

A workspace building in Kelowna, B.C., that has been around for more than a decade has been forced to close its doors, and it’s taking 12 businesses with it.

CoLab, a collaborative working space on St. Paul Street has been ordered to close by the city of Kelowna, as nearby construction on the 43-storey UBC Okanagan skyscraper caused significant damage.

Damage includes severe cracks to the roof and structure, causing instability.

The 12 businesses that rely on coLab as a workspace are now forced to relocate as the closure has prevented all tenants from accessing the building, many of which still have equipment inside that they can’t retrieve.

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“On a human level it’s heartbreaking, we’ve seen it internally with all of our members but also throughout the neighbourhood, but everyone has been impacted and I don’t think in a practical way there are any solutions available because it was so abrupt,” said Shane Austin, coLab owner and operator.

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Dustyn Baulkham, the founder of Rebellious Unicorns, told Global News he has $20,000 worth of equipment inside the building with no way of getting inside.

Austin said he and the building owners, Kerkhoff Construction, are trying to find ways to support the businesses.

“For some of those businesses it is a wait and see and look at what discussions are had between UBC and Kerkhoff,” said Austin.

“But every day is important to some of these businesses, they were running their businesses from the space and so its less revenue and a break in operational continuity for them.”

Global News reached out to UBCO for comment but did not receive a response. However, in October it released a statement, saying, “Given the scale and depth of the project, ground settling was always anticipated.”

With coLab permanently closing at that location, Austin says Kelowna is losing a big piece of the city.

“The coLab has really become a vital part of the community. With 12 years of history, it has a legacy of many companies that are all about contributing to the economy.

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