Hundreds of UVic students have found a home on campus after a new housing complex opened in September.
The recently developed residence provided, for many students a more affordable option rather than trying to navigate the local sky-high rental market.
“The challenge that we face of course in British Columbia is that if you’d like to have that experience, if you’re able to move into student residence, the spaces fill up fast or there’s a waitlist and you’re not able to get into this really important kind of housing,” said Premier David Eby at a press conference.
According to Kevin Hall, UVic president, typically students come for two semesters which will add up to about a $7,000 charge.
“We’ve actually benchmarked this to other universities in the province,” said Hall. “We’re doing a very good service for our students by having quite a good rate.”
The complex opened ahead of schedule, and it has 385 single-room-dormitory-style beds, primarily for first-year students, and has an Indigenous student lounge. This new residence is part of a larger student housing project, built into two phases.
The first building, which opened in September 2022, includes 398 single-room dormitory-style student beds and a 600-seat dining hall. As part of the project, two old buildings are being torn down. In total, the project adds 621 new beds and 162 replacement beds.
“Our government is building student housing at an unprecedented pace. In 2018, you’ll recall we’re committed to 8,000 student beds in the 10-year period from 2018 to 2028,” said Eby. “Today, five years later, we’ve nearly achieved that goal. More than 7,700 new beds are open and underway and funded.”
According to Eby, the previous administration built only 130 beds.
UVic has a first-year-on-campus housing guarantee to help new students acclimate to campus life through living in residence.
“I think that those of us who have had the opportunity to live in student residence know that it is an important experience. It is part of learning to live on your own, away from home in a safe environment. Often it’s more affordable than market housing, learning how to keep things relatively clean, it is a place to build lifelong friendships with colleagues and to really become an adult,” said Eby
UVic has been able to accommodate all first-year students through the addition of these new student residences. Plus, housing for more than 1,000 upper-year undergraduate and graduate students for the current academic year, the most ever.
The provincial government provided UVic with $127.7 million to support the $235.9 million project. The university has used Songhees Nation names for the new buildings to honour the territory on which the buildings stand. Sŋéqə ʔéʔləŋ, the Sngequ House, the most recently opened student residence features an Indigenous student lounge and Indigenous artwork. The first residence, Čeqʷəŋín ʔéʔləŋ (Cheko’nien House), is named after the territory that is now known as Oak Bay, while Sngequ House is named after a village that was located in what is now known as Cadboro Bay. Sŋéqə means “snow patches” in lək̓ʷəŋən.
This project is part of the Home of People plan, which includes developing 12,000 student beds on campuses throughout the province to further ease pressure on local rental markets. To date, 7,766 student beds are already complete or underway, five years ahead of schedule. Budget 2023 includes $575 million for on-campus student housing over three years.