March 13, 2019 1:39 pm

Two new student residences planned for UBC Okanagan

In announcing two new student residence buildings, UBC Okanagan says its long-term goal is to create enough housing for 25 per cent of its student population.

UBC Okanagan

The number of students living at UBC Okanagan in Kelowna will soon expand, with the university announcing on Wednesday that two new residence buildings are in the works.

The university says enrollment is increasing and that it wants to ultimately provide enough on-campus housing for 25 per cent of its student population. This fall, UBCO predicts it will surpass 10,000 students.

Currently, the university says it has space for 1,680 students to live on campus – enough to meet its guarantee of providing enough on-campus housing for every first-year student.

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The two new student residences, according to UBCO, will create an extra 440 additional beds.

“The space we currently have allows us to meet the demand from our first-year students,” said Rob Einarson, UBCO’s associate vice-president of finance and operations. “Ultimately, we’d like to be in a position of being able to offer on-campus housing to about 25 per cent of our student population, which is a very high benchmark when compared to other Canadian universities.”

Einarson added that residences provide more than just a bed near classes.

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“Residences offer an opportunity for connections into a community of peers and other supports that we know improves student success and their experience of student life on campus,” he said.

Constructing the two new buildings – to be called the Skeena and Nechako residences — will cost approximately $70 million. Each building will house 220 beds. The funding was recently approved by UBC’s board of governors.

“With funding now in place, I expect to see shovels in the ground very shortly and the projects are targeted to be completed by fall 2021,” said Einarson.

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When the campus transitioned from Okanagan College to UBCO in 2005, UBCO said there were 340 beds available for its 3,500 students. Six years later, UBCO had built an additional 1,440 beds.

The university says Skeena Residence will be six storeys in height with standard amenities including lounges, informal study space, an activity room and laundry facilities. The Nechako Residence will also rise six storeys, with the bottom two devoted to a 500-seat dining hall, a quiet study and informal gathering space, a fitness room and casual recreation space. The top four storeys will feature traditional student rooms.

“We’re truly thinking to the future with this new construction and as our footprint grows,” said Einarson, “so too will our ability to provide reliable, comfortable, affordable and efficient student housing.”

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