With the school year underway, students are settling into new housing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO).
“The connection that on-campus living brings is a vital part of the student experience, and I was thrilled to visit Skeena Residence and see the students bring this building to life,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “With guaranteed spaces for incoming Indigenous students, improved access to opportunities and better amenities, this project makes post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for Indigenous youth. We are so excited to see students using this space, as they settle into a new school year with the comfort of a wonderful place to call home.”
The six-storey facility has 220 beds and includes amenities such as lounges, informal study space, an activity room and laundry facilities. Named Skeena Residence, the building provides guaranteed housing for incoming Indigenous students.
“We are delighted to be able to provide new, high-quality housing that meets the needs of UBC Okanagan students,” said Lesley Cormack, deputy vice-chancellor and principal, UBCO. “The Okanagan housing market is increasingly challenging, so it is all the more important that we provide additional spaces on campus and offer priority access for Indigenous and first-year students. The incredibly high bar for sustainability set by the Skeena building allows the university to meet both its commitments to students on housing and to tackling the climate crisis, and I thank the Government of B.C. for helping to make this possible.”
Skeena Residence is one of two new student housing projects at UBC Okanagan. Funded by the university, Nechako Housing Commons was completed earlier this year, and adds an additional 220 beds to the on-campus housing stock as well as a 450-seat resident dining room that Skeena residents can access. The buildings will boost the number of available beds on campus by 28%.
“New student housing has had an extremely positive impact on me and the community, allowing hundreds more students to experience the convenience of living on campus and the university dorm experience,” said Omar Eldeeb, a third-year economics major at UBCO. “With the new and spacious study rooms and lounges, students are able to find different study spots, other than our rooms and the library, to focus and expand our knowledge.”
Construction of Skeena Residence was completed in August 2020. Shortly after, the building achieved Passive House certification. Aligned with CleanBC goals, the high-performance building standard results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing heating energy consumption.
Given the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, UBCO and the Province are committed to hosting a larger official opening when it is safe to do so next year.
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“Affordable and available housing is often a barrier for students starting their post-secondary experience. Ensuring that Indigenous students have access to on-campus housing is a vital support, and Skeena Residence meets that need well. I commend UBCO for their work in identifying the needs of students and responding so effectively.”
Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monahsee –
“Students are making Skeena Residence their home and it is so good to see. The time spent on campus is such a memorable part of the university and college experience, and the addition of such high-quality accommodations at the University of British Columbia Okanagan is an asset to the entire region. As a parent of a student at UBCO, I’m so glad to see our government working together with the university to enrich students’ lives and improve outcomes for everyone.”
Sarah Jane Thompson, bachelor of human kinetics student, UBCO –
"To me, more housing gives more students the opportunity to meet new people and create a community at their new home. It fosters a community of students learning how to live on their own together."
- The $24.98-million new student housing facility received $18.74 million from the Province. The university contributed $6.24 million.
- Passive House certification is an internationally recognized high-performance building standard developed in Germany that focuses on the design, construction and operation of energy-efficient buildings.
- Buildings designed and constructed to this standard use up to 90% less space heating and energy consumption than conventional buildings.
- The project created 90 direct and 70 indirect jobs.
For more about UBC Okanagan, visit: https://ok.ubc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.