The University of Victoria took a step forward on Monday towards accommodating nearly 800 additional students in new on-campus homes by 2022.
BC Premier John Horgan was joined by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and by Gayle Gorrill, vice-president of finance and operations at UVic, for a groundbreaking on campus.
The construction will include erecting two new student housing facilities along with a dining hall.
“Today, we are breaking ground on almost 800 new homes for UVic students,” said Premier John Horgan. “It’s part of B.C.’s first-ever student housing initiative, which we developed to help meet a significant and long-standing need. These new housing units are great news for students and will help take some pressure off the local rental market.”
The two residences will contain 783 beds, including 621 new beds and 162 replacement beds. Part of the project will involve deconstructing the pre-existing Emily Carr, Margaret Newton and Cadboro Commons buildings to accommodate the new on-campus housing and dining hall.
The dining hall will contain 600 seats, a commercial kitchen, a small grocery shop and a new coffee shop.
“Today, we are celebrating an important milestone for students at UVic and fulfilling our government’s commitment to build 5,000 new student housing units across the province,” Mark said. “After years of neglect and calculated inaction on this file by the previous government, I am proud to say that this new state-of-the-art sustainable student housing project is ahead of schedule and soon nearly 800 students will have an affordable place to call home.”
Other amenities will include meeting rooms, student lounges and gathering places, classrooms, laundry facilities, secure indoor bike storage and a designated Indigenous student lounge.
“With 75% of our students arriving from outside Greater Victoria, it has long been a strategic priority for UVic to provide more on-campus housing,” Gorrill said. “Living on campus contributes to the educational experience and success of our students, and we are grateful this project will provide a welcoming home away from home.”
According to the construction plans, UVic will be adding a temporary 500-seat modular dining facility between September 2020 to July 2022 while the new hall is under construction.
UVic says that the on-campus housing meets rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency, while also supporting the government’s CleanBC initiative.
“Not only is this project creating important affordable housing for UVic students, it’s also easing rental pressure on the housing market in our region. I’m excited to get these units built and for the community to benefit from our government’s action on this long-standing issue,” said Minister of Education Rob Fleming.
The Province of BC is providing $128 million towards the total cost of the facility, which is estimated at $232.4 million. The Student Housing Initiative will be investing $98 million towards beds and a separate loan of $25 million towards part of the cost of the dining hall. The remaining $5.2 million will be provided as a capital grant.
“Living on campus is the perfect place to become involved in campus culture, find a community of like-minded students only steps from your door and ease the transition into university life. Looking back on my first year, there were so many new experiences and opportunities I hadn’t even imagined. I’m so glad I made the decision to live in residence and be a part of the UVic community right off the bat. With more housing options right on campus, I know future students will have a great experience at UVic,” said Alyssa Husband, a fifth-year student at the university.
This is the first major capital project at UVic since a new Campus Plan was completed in January 2016.