At the special council and committee of the whole meetings on Monday evening, the Saanich council unanimously approved the University of Victoria’s (UVic) application for permits to build two new residence buildings.
Pleased to see @Saanich Council unanimously approve two new student housing buildings @uvic with 783 units! These units will be for @UVSS students and be available for short-term stays in the summer. Move in 2022/24.
— Colin Plant (@ColinPlant2018) August 20, 2019
Council members were enthusiastic about the proposed residences and the Cadboro Bay Residents Association also indicated their support for the new residence buildings when the public was asked to weigh in at the meeting.
The university applied for a Development Variance Permit to allow for one eight-storey building, one eleven-storey building and accompanying parking. The existing Emily Carr residence, the Margret Newton residence and the Cadboro Commons cafeteria will all be torn down to make space for the new, taller buildings designed by the Perkins and Will architecture team.
A net of 621 new beds will be created along with a new residence style — “pods” will provide single rooms with shared laundry and dining facilities on each floor.
The project will be funded by the province and by the UVic Foundation and will be the largest project the university has taken on.
Mike Wilson, director of campus planning and sustainability at UVic, noted that the designs for the new buildings align with the global standards for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and and this will be one of the largest Passive House projects in Canada. These building standards relate to sustainability and energy efficiency.
Passive House standards can help reduce up to 80 per cent of energy consumption with techniques such as triple glazed windows and more insulation to reduce heat loss. LEED standards include installing energy efficient electric appliances and fixtures. The project will also seek to minimize waste from construction, ensure that the building is durable and reduce the carbon footprint of the buildings.
Wilson explained that these actions are an effort to meet the guidelines of the Saanich Official Community Plan (OCP) which encourages “green” developments. The OCP also asks for the retention of open space and Wilson explained that this is why the buildings will be taller, not wider. The Campus Plan also seeks to keep the campus compact and walkable, to building up increases density without spreading the campus out.
There are currently only 2,300 beds on the campus in a mix of single and double rooms. During the 2018.2019 school year, over 80% of the residences were taken up by first year students who are guaranteed a bed. The university saw about 18,000 undergraduate students in total that same year.
Currently, the buildings are projected to be completed by 2024 with move in between 2022 and 2024. At the request of Coun. Colin Plant, the dorms will be available to community members for shot-term stay during the summer months as well due to the fact that most students return home during the summer so many rooms remain empty.