The B.C. government is expanding on-campus housing by 25% at the University of Victoria (UVic), making it more affordable for students to get the education they need.
The UVic project is the second to access the BC Student Housing Loan Program, a $450-million initiative launched in this year’s provincial budget to make housing more affordable and available for students.
“Students have enough stress in their lives without having to worry about finding a place to live they can afford. We’re moving forward on our commitment to students at UVic and throughout the province to deliver comfortable and affordable housing in the heart of where they study,” said Premier John Horgan. “By increasing housing stock specifically for students, we’re also taking the pressure off local rental markets, giving more options to other renters.”
Victoria has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the province, and the university receives more applications every year for on-campus housing than there are spaces available. The on-campus student housing will be more affordable than market housing and includes amenities such as student group and study space, an Indigenous student lounge, communal social spaces, laundry facilities and secure indoor bicycle storage.
“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 Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “After years of inaction, our government is responding to advocacy from students. New housing at UVic is part of our plan to build thousands of student homes on campuses throughout B.C.”
The Premier added the UVic project will be the first on-campus housing to use the Passive House construction standard, the primary aim of which is to achieve exceptional energy efficiency. The result is a building that uses 75% less energy for heating and cooling, and at least 50% less overall energy than a typical construction design.
“Projects like this are part of the direction our government, working with the B.C. Green Party caucus, is setting for British Columbia to tackle climate change. We are committed to taking hold of new technologies and new ideas to create a cleaner, less polluting and more energy-efficient future for our province,” said Premier Horgan.
“I’m thrilled to see this student housing project move forward at the University of Victoria. Not only will this new project provide critically needed on-campus housing, but the new buildings will also be constructed to the Passive House standard. Both UVic and the Province are demonstrating leadership in innovative low-carbon housing solutions, and I look forward to similar projects rolling out throughout British Columbia in the months ahead,” said Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head and leader of the B.C. Green Party.
The new student housing project at UVic will consist of two new buildings that will accommodate 782 students in addition to a new dining hall and multipurpose space. The project replaces three aging buildings and represents a net gain of 620 student homes.
Government is committed to adopting and implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by supporting Indigenous students. UVic is engaging Indigenous students and campus colleagues to ensure the buildings include Indigenous student elements, supports and cultural spaces in addition to dedicated spaces for Indigenous students. The buildings will be designed to create inclusive, welcoming and supportive environments for all students.
The two student housing buildings will be constructed to the Passive House standard, the world’s leading standard for energy-efficient construction. This means reduced energy, operating and maintenance costs, and lower carbon emissions, which are critical for a clean growth future.
The estimated cost of the total project is $201 million. The Province is providing financing of $123 million and the University of Victoria Foundation is providing up to $45 million. UVic will provide the balance. Provincial funding includes $98 million from the BC Student Housing Loan Program for student housing and $25 million from the ministry capital budget toward half the cost of the dining hall.
Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing –
“This new project will help students find appropriate housing on campus, freeing up affordable housing options for individuals and families looking for homes throughout Victoria.”
Fred Haynes, mayor of Saanich –
“This is a great project, not only for UVic but also for the community of Saanich. The university will have new homes for their students and there will be more affordable housing freed up in the local neighbourhoods. Saanich is very pleased to have played a support role in raising awareness of needs for on-campus housing.”
Jamie Cassels, president, University of Victoria –
“The new student housing, dining centre and student programming space will support student success and make a significant contribution to the University of Victoria’s extraordinary academic environment. We are excited to be working with the government to bring hundreds more students into new on-campus housing, helping us achieve our vision to be a vibrant and sustainable community that nurtures our students’ experience and well-being.”
Ainsley Kerr, University of Victoria Students’ Society –
“For years we’ve been calling on the government to make education more accessible by helping students who have few options for affordable housing in a community with low rental availability and a high cost of living. This announcement will help UVic students succeed by having a stable working environment and the UVSS will continue to work with the university and the Province to find innovative solutions to student housing issues.”
Adri Bell, UVic student and senior community leader –
“I first moved into residence in 2015 and have seen over the years the benefits of campus living for students who often face many challenges in the transition to university while living away from home. Residence has helped countless students grow into the people they were meant to be, and it only seems fair that now residence gets to grow itself.”
- The provincial government has funded an additional 1,165 homes at three post-secondary institutions in 2018 – Thompson Rivers University, the College of New Caledonia and UVic – representing an 800% increase from 130 student homes funded over the previous 16 years.
- UVic has approximately 22,000 students with 75% from outside the Greater Victoria area. Victoria has a rental vacancy rate of around 0.7%
- The project will provide increased opportunities for apprentices in accordance with the new apprenticeship ratio policy. Construction will create an estimated 659 jobs in addition to 620 supplier industry jobs.
- Construction on the first building at UVic is expected to start in 2020 with 418 new and replacement student homes by fall 2022. Construction on the second building is expected to start in 2022 with the final 364 new student homes ready by fall 2024.
- The B.C. government’s 30-point plan on housing includes a BC Student Housing Loan Program for public post-secondary institutions that provides access to up to $450 million to help finance student housing projects over six years.
- Lending will go toward building approximately 5,000 new homes in addition to 3,000 built by post-secondary institutions through grants, institutional self-financing and partnerships, for a total of approximately 8,000 additional student homes.
- A $36-million student-housing project at Thompson Rivers University will create 533 additional homes for students with $25 million from the Province.
- An Indigenous student-housing building at the College of New Caledonia will provide up to 12 furnished student rooms with $2.6 million from the Province.