More students who study at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Nanaimo campus will be able to live where they learn with the addition of 266 new student housing beds and a new dining hall.
“Post-secondary students need access to affordable housing to complete their studies, remove barriers to education and lay the foundation for their future – making them future-ready for the jobs of tomorrow,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “Between 2001 and 2016, the old government only built 130 student beds. We’re making up for lost time and building 8,000 student housing units across the province so students can find a place to live on campus and provide some relief for local renters in this tight rental market.”
The Province is providing $87 million toward the $87.8-million project. The new housing will increase on-campus student accommodations by more than 50%: from 536 beds to 802 beds.
The nine-storey hybrid mass-timber building will include 266 new student beds, a common area for students to study and gather, and a new dining hall for students living in campus housing. Construction is anticipated to begin in spring 2023 and be complete in summer 2025, with the first students moving in by fall 2025.
Investing in student housing makes post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for British Columbians. It also reduces the pressure on the rental market in surrounding communities.
On Aug. 29, 2022, the Province also announced $3.3 million to make VIU more inclusive and accessible for the campus community. The funding will remove physical barriers to teaching spaces, buildings and locations on campus that are a challenge for many people to access.
These investments in student housing and accessibility at Vancouver Island University are part of StrongerBC’s Future Ready plan. Future Ready is making education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to help businesses grow and prepare British Columbians for the jobs of tomorrow.
Cole Reinbold, VIU bachelor of business administration student and community leader in VIU student residences –
“Living in residence really allowed me to excel at school because I didn’t have to worry about transportation. You’re five minutes away from class and surrounded by like-minded people. It pushed me to socialize more, and had I not lived in residence, I would not have made the lifelong friends I have made. This new building means more students will get to experience residence life and it will alleviate the stress of finding a place to live for many.”
Deborah Saucier, president and vice-chancellor, Vancouver Island University –
“Secure, stable and affordable housing is essential for students to be successful at their studies. At Vancouver Island University, our strategic plan focuses on people, place and potential, committing us to fully support our learners and to welcome a larger and more diverse population. A new student residence building is key to meeting these commitments. Additional on-campus housing promotes a deeper connection between learners and the land our campus is located on, which provides students with a fully accessible space to live while they explore their potential studying at VIU.”
Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo –
"VIU students get affordable housing with this first-ever B.C. funding and it also reduces pressure on the rental market in Nanaimo, freeing up rental homes. This project is a win-win for students and Nanaimo.”
Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –
“I am pleased to see student housing expanding for Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus. This will allow more students to live on campus, part of our continued plan to create and add to the housing supply, which benefits renters across the board. By having stable, reliable places to live, students can spend more time on their studies and on-campus activities, which contributes to a healthy, vibrant and involved student community.”
- This project brings the total number of student beds that are approved and underway in B.C. to 4,584.
- Add that to the 3,031 beds initiated and self-funded by post-secondary institutions, and government has achieved 95% of its 8,000-bed target.
- This project will add an estimated 304 direct and 230 indirect jobs.
- The project aligns with CleanBC, not only by targeting Step 4 of the BC Energy Step Code for the building, but by expanding and connecting to VIU’s geo-exchange system, which uses the former coal-mine shaft system that lies beneath the campus.
- The project also advances B.C.’s Wood First initiative by using hybrid mass-timber construction.
- This also aligns with CleanBC, as mass timber can match or exceed the structural performance of concrete and steel while reducing carbon emissions by as much as 45%.
Learn more about Vancouver Island University: https://www.viu.ca/
A backgrounder follows.