Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Sustainable. Affordable. Student Housing

Exciting times for our University – and for the region.
Last week Premier Horgan and Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training were at UVic to break ground on long-awaited – and needed – new student housing and dining hall.
This is part of B.C.'s first-ever student housing initiative - developed to help meet a significant and long-standing need of students – while relieving some of the pressure on rental housing throughout the region. Nearly 800 UVic students will be able to make themselves at home on-campus by 2022.
Why now? What’s changed?
For many years public post-secondary institutions were asking for the ability to borrow to construct student housing; the previous government never approved the request. Our government saw the good sense in what post-secondary institutions were asking and created a $450M student housing loan program.  This enables public post-secondary institutions to borrow funds directly from the Provincial Treasury and construct student housing. 
Allowing institutions to borrow directly from the Province keeps borrowing costs low and that translates into lower, more affordable rental rates for students. The loans are repaid over time to the Province with interest. This is a win for students, a win for our public institutions, and a win for British Columbians.
Our government has made this long sought-after solution happen!
The project includes two new buildings with 783 student homes plus a dining hall and multipurpose space that can be used for conferences. While the project replaces some existing beds, it represents a net increase of 621 homes – a 25% increase in housing on the UVic campus. The first building is scheduled to start construction in late summer 2020 with completion in spring 2022.
This groundbreaking is an important milestone in fulfilling our government's commitment to build 5,000 new student housing spaces across the province. The UVic project is state-of-the-art sustainable housing – the first on-campus housing to use the Passive House construction standard, the primary aim of which is to achieve exceptional energy efficiency. Construction meets LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold and Passive House standards - the most rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency – supporting government's CleanBC initiative.
This project represents a 25% increase of student housing on campus. It will include a rejuvenated outdoor area that connects the new housing and dining hall to the centre of campus, student group and study spaces, communal social spaces, laundry facilities and secure indoor bicycle storage. Plus a 600-seat dining hall, commercial kitchen, small grocery and new coffee shop to replace Cadboro Commons and provide more food offerings with healthy options (it’s all about the food for me!)
This is the first major capital project at UVic since a new Campus Plan was completed in January 2016.