Province providing $11.6 million for student housing
The B.C. government is providing $11.6 million to College of the Rockies to help it construct housing for 96 students.
Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training announced in the college foyer this afternoon that six new cottage-style buildings will provide spaces for 96 more students, doubling capacity at the college.
The province is investing $11.6 million in the $17.7-million project, and the college is contributing the remaining $6.1 million. The college’s contribution includes a $1-million donation from the Columbia Basin Trust.
“The struggle to find affordable housing adds pressure to the entire community and affects students by creating barriers to education,” said Minister Mark. “Our government had heard the call to action from students by investing in thousands more student beds on campuses throughout the province. This is the first ever- provincial investment in student housing in Cranbrook and we are doubling the amount of student housing at the college. We are committed to working together to make life more affordable so that students can live, study and thrive here in the East Kootenay.”
David Walls, president and CEO, College of the Rockies said the creation of the student housing will help with Cranbrook’s housing shortage.
“This project is an investment in our students, an investment in Cranbrook, because it will mean nearly 100 students won’t be competing for Cranbrook rentals, and an investment in the future because it will be energy efficient. It’s exciting to think of the increased vibrancy and sense of community at the college from more students living on campus,” he said
College student Lauren Spurge agreed. “The college absolutely needs additional residence spaces. If I hadn’t been successful in getting into residence, my experience here would have been much different, and I would have felt more isolated. I’m excited that more students will experience the benefits of living on campus.”
“We know that the lack of affordable housing is an issue across basin communities, which is why we’ve made it a priority to help communities address their housing needs. We’re pleased to be able to support College of the Rockies and students with more affordable housing options, which in turn eases the rental market in Cranbrook more broadly,” said Johnny Strilaeff, president and CEO of Columbia Basin Trust.
The energy-efficient project will be consistent with elements of the CleanBC plan to design more sustainable, energy-efficient buildings. It will include barrier-free first-floor units and a projected monthly rent that is 30-40% below current rates in the stretched Cranbrook rental market.
The housing will benefit all College of the Rockies students. This includes Indigenous students, whose input was incorporated into a design that balances privacy – with individual bedrooms and bathrooms – with opportunities for gathering in common kitchens and living areas.
Government is committed to adopting and implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by supporting Indigenous students, Mark said.
College of the Rockies has approximately 1,800 students, with approximately 48% from outside the Cranbrook area.
Cranbrook has a rental vacancy of around 1.2%, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s latest report (2018).
The college consulted with and received support of the Ktunaxa Nation Council for the project as part of its long-standing working relationship with the council.
The project will provide increased opportunities for local trades and apprentices. It is expected to create 53 direct and 43 indirect jobs.
Construction is expected to begin this summer, with the six new buildings expected to be ready for students in the fall of 2020.