The University of Victoria (UVic) has embarked on a major student housing expansion and renewal project that will provide a net increase of 621 on-campus beds.
On Monday, construction officially began on the project, which entails two buildings that will have a combined total of 783 beds, including 162 replacement beds. A mix of traditional dormitory rooms and community style rooms — single rooms with a shared kitchen and living area — will be offered.
“Living on campus contributes to the educational experience and success of our students, and we are grateful this project will provide a welcoming home away from home,” said Gayle Gorrill, vice-president of finance and operations of UVic, who noted 75% of students commute long distances to the campus from outside of Greater Victoria.
BC Minister of Education Rob Fleming added: “Not only is this project creating important affordable housing for UVic students, it’s also easing rental pressure on the housing market in our region. I’m excited to get these units built and for the community to benefit from our government’s action on this long-standing issue.”
Building One on the site of Emily Carr Residence and Margaret Newton Residence will reach completion in September 2022. The first two levels will be dedicated to a new 600-seat dining hall with a convenience store and coffee shop.
A temporary 500-seat modular dining hall for existing students will be ready by September 2020, and will remain in place until July 2022, when the new dining hall is expected to open.
Building Two, on the footprint of the Cadboro Commons building, will be ready for student occupancy by September 2023. Its first two floor includes conference and meeting spaces, and two classrooms.
Student residents will have access to amenities such as student group and study spaces, community social spaces, laundry facilities, and secure indoor bicycle storage. A new public realm will connect the new buildings and dining hall with the core of the campus.
Both buildings will be constructed to meet the LEED Gold and Passive House green building design standards. Wood materials will be extensively used for the structures and the interior and outdoor finishings.
The project’s construction cost is $232.4 million, with $128 million provided by the provincial government, including $98 million from the BC Student Housing Initiative, which requires post-secondary institutions to self-finance 25% of the costs through rental income.
This is the first major capital project at the university since it finalized its campus plan in 2016.