After a sleepy few months, the campus at the University of Victoria was abuzz with activity over the Labour Day weekend as new students began to fill dormitories once again.
Students carried boxes, furniture and other belongings as they moved into their new on-campus homes Sunday (Sept. 4.)
Freshman students aren’t the only thing new on the University of Victoria campus this fall. The first of two new student-housing buildings is opening its doors.
UVic’s newest student housing and dining building will provide an additional 398 beds for students starting this month. It brings the number of on-campus student beds to more than 2,500.
“Victoria has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the province, making it challenging for post-secondary students to secure housing,” said Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang.
The new building will primarily benefit first-year university students. UVic has a first-year on-campus housing guarantee to help new students acclimate to campus life through living in residence.
“Having on-campus housing eases stress and allows students like me to fully enjoy and immerse themselves in the post-secondary experience,” said Izzy Adachi, political science student and board director with the University of Victoria Students’ Society. “Students need a secure, safe space to call home, so they can focus on their studies without worry or distraction.”
In addition to student housing, the eight-storey building includes a two-storey, 715-seat dining hall equipped to serve 10,000 meals a day to students, staff, faculty and the public. The electrified commercial kitchen will set a global precedent in energy efficiency. As the first passive house kitchen of its scale worldwide, the Cove Dining Hall will consume an average of 87 per cent less energy than other industrial kitchens of a similar size.
“With assistance from the province, we are working to remove barriers and make higher education accessible for more students at UVic,” said UVic president Kevin Hall. “On-campus housing helps students transition to post-secondary studies and creates a sense of community and connection. These new student-housing buildings will also help to alleviate pressure on the rental market in the surrounding community.”
The first student housing building has been built and completed on schedule. The second new student housing building is on pace to be completed a year ahead of schedule in summer 2023 and will provide an additional 385 beds. In total, the two buildings will add 621 new beds to the campus for students, increasing affordable on-campus housing by 25 per cent. The $229.2-million project received $127.9 million in provincial funding.
Kang said the 621 new beds is a marked increase over the 130 beds added to UVic between 2001 and 2016.
“The outcome was many students were pushed into local rental markets in communities like Victoria,” she said. “Our government is making different choices, working with colleges and universities to build 8,000 student housing beds across B.C. to make post-secondary education more affordable for students and provide relief for local renters.”
Both UVic student-housing buildings will be constructed using natural products, including stone and wood, consistent with the province’s CleanBC plan, and have been designed and constructed to achieve Passive House and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) V4 Gold certification, two of most rigorous global building standards for sustainability and energy efficiency.
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