Minister of Advanced Education, Melanie Mark, at UVic Thursday to announce on-campus housing at UVic is expanding by 25 per cent with the construction of two new student housing buildings. (Keri Coles/News staff)

VIDEO: New UVic buildings expand student housing by 25 per cent

Over 600 new beds mean off-campus housing freed up for affordable housing for Victoria residents

An announcement of new student housing coming to the University of Victoria, made Thursday by Premier John Horgan and the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark, aims to not only provide more housing for students but to also free up other rentals in Victoria for more affordable housing options for residents.

“We are a destination university with over 75 per cent of our students coming from outside the immediate catchment area,” said Jamie Cassels, president of UVic who has been advocating for more on-campus housing for over a decade.

“Those students are coming to what we all agree is one of the most beautiful cities in the country but also one of the most difficult cities in the country in which to find affordable housing. With extremely low vacancy rates and very high rental costs, it’s very challenging for students to find a place to live, so this opportunity is extraordinary for our students.”

RELATED: City of Victoria to see 588 affordable housing units

The $200 million funding announcement involves the construction of two new student housing buildings to house 782 students in addition to a new dining hall and multipurpose space. The project will replace three aging buildings and will be a net gain of 620 student homes.

The project is the second to access the BC Student Housing Loan Program, a $450-million initiative of the provincial government to make housing more affordable and available to students in B.C.

“Students have been calling on government to take action to make their lives more affordable. They should be able to pursue their education without worrying about finding an affordable place to live,” said Mark.

RELATED: Victoria’s housing market remains vulnerable

“By increasing housing stock specifically for students, we’re also taking the pressure off local rental markets, giving more options to other renters,” said Horgan.

At the announcement, Premier Horgan said it’s not just about student housing but also about “reducing our carbon footprint.”

The new builds will be constructed to the Passive House standard, the world’s leading standard for energy-efficient construction. The buildings are projected to use 75 per cent less energy for heating and cooling, and at least 50 per cent less overall energy than a typical construction design.

Students joined the announcement to share how the expansion will affect their lives.

“Residence is a safe place that fosters growth. The buildings themselves become homes where students can create the community they want to live in,” said Adri Bell, UVic student and senior community leader. “I know it’s been another good year as I watch a resident hug their building goodbye before heading home for the summer. The new residence buildings are going to help us expand the impact we are able to make in the lives of students.”

“Today’s announcement isn’t just an investment in the university, this is an investment in the citizens and the future of this province,” Cassels said.

RELATED: Students struggling with Greater Victoria’s tight housing


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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