North Island College (NIC) students will soon be able to live where they learn at the first student housing project set to be built on campus.
NIC’s first on-campus housing will include two new student housing buildings, offering a total of 217 beds. The Housing Commons includes 157 individual and 60 family-specific options at the Comox Valley campus in Courtenay.
“We know students need access to affordable housing so they can commit to their studies without the worry of where to call home during the school year. This project will help so many people and I am really excited about the inclusion of dedicated spaces for families,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This project is part of our Homes for BC plan, which includes building 8,000 new student beds by 2028. Including NIC, we are now more than 75% of the way to reaching that goal.”
The $65.9-million project received $57.3 million in government funding and $6.6 million from the BC Student Housing Loan Program, with $2 million provided by North Island College.
Both four-storey buildings will offer a variety of options, ranging from two-bedroom family student housing to quad (individual bedrooms with shared living areas) and studio apartments for individual students. Nine of the units will be accessible for people with disabilities, and both buildings include common areas such as interfaith rooms, a community food garden, play areas and outdoor gathering spaces.
“The Comox Valley has a 1.3% vacancy rate – lower than Victoria or Vancouver. So many people and families who are investing in their studies through North Island College need rental housing,” said Ronna-Rae Leonard, MLA for Courtenay-Comox. “This project will have such a positive impact on their learning experience and on housing availability for all residents.”
Aligned with the Province’s CleanBC plan, both buildings will be constructed with mass timber. Construction is anticipated to begin in fall 2022 with anticipated completion in fall 2024.
“The Housing Commons is a physical expression of NIC’s commitment to people and communities across the North Island,” said Lisa Domae, NIC president. “It represents NIC’s core values of access to education and training for everyone, life-long learning, Indigenization and the College’s institution-defining culture of inclusivity, caring and student success. I want to thank Minister Anne Kang and all those whose hard work and support for the Housing Commons have created this incredible opportunity for the North Island.”
Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island –
“For students who must leave their home communities in the North Island to further their education, it’s important to have a variety of affordable housing options available to them. The Housing Commons at North Island College will support a diverse range of students, from people starting their post-secondary education to adult learners balancing family and career upgrades.”
Natsuse Aramaki, NIC associate of arts student, first year, Comox Valley campus –
“When I first started at North Island College, I didn’t go out and join in on many activities as it took me some time to get used to the expectations for my classes and make some time to study. There were not very many opportunities to make friends. It would be so much better to have housing on campus – it would save me time and money. If I had any problems, it would be easier for me to ask for help at the college.”
- North Island College serves more than 9,000 students from campuses in Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni and Port Hardy, as well as a learning centre in Ucluelet.
- 49% of students identifying as renters and 53% of students attending the Courtenay campus come from within the North Island region.
- The project is estimated to add 341 direct jobs, and 129 indirect jobs to the economy.
Learn more about North Island College at https://www.nic.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.