Campus communities in Lethbridge are quiet right now but thousands of post-secondary students will be returning to class soon.
Many of them will need off-campus housing, which comes at a cost that the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union says remains unaffordable.
“Rental stressors for students are becoming a constant problem that we’re seeing every year,” said Maleeka Thomas, president of the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union.
While Rentals.ca’s August report has Lethbridge ranked 32nd out of the 35 Canadian cities on the list in terms of cost for a one-bedroom unit, that cost has jumped about six per cent year-over-year to $1,168 a month.
For a two-bedroom unit, the report has the price up 9.5 per cent compared to 2022. The report is based on monthly listings on Rentals.ca’s network of internet listing services.
With just 980 residence units available at the University of Lethbridge, lots of students are facing a tough economic reality.
“The University of Lethbridge is a destination university, so 74 per cent of our student body travel from outside the city to come here to study,” Thomas said.
“You’re seeing that housing is not accessible or affordable for students.”
For anyone trying to avoid the rental market, on-campus living can be competitive.
Lethbridge College tells Global News its individual residences are nearly full, while there’s a waitlist for family residences.
It’s a similar situation at the U of L, where the only spots left are for students coming out of high school.
Associate director of housing services Laura Correal says they help point students towards available options.
“We do have a page that’s attached to our housing portal that allows them to see other off-campus places that are there for rent,” Correal said.
Meanwhile, local student groups are prioritizing the high costs of living when it comes to their advocacy efforts.
“It’s something we recognize is a major issue and it needs to be addressed because they’re our students,” Lethbridge College Students’ Association vice-president of operations and finances Celine Gilbert said.