Residence renewal plan proposed

Residences Services is proposing a 10-year plan to address significant needed improvements to the university’s aging student residences and a shortage of campus housing.

Among the needed work are new roofs, mechanical systems, and the removal and replacement of water-damaged building exteriors. An increase in residence fees, which are currently up to 30 per cent less than comparable Canadian universities, is proposed to pay for the maintenance projects as well as construction of a new residence in the coming years.

Universities must fund the construction, repair and operation of residences on a cost-recovery basis because residences are an ancillary service not funded by the BC government.

“We know that affordability is a critical issue for students,” says Kathryn McLeod, director of residence services. “In developing the renewal plan, we carefully considered the costs for students while also looking at how we can get this work done and deal with the demand for safe, affordable campus housing.”

In addition to the existing student financial support available through scholarships, bursaries and work-study positions, a new bursary program is being developed by Residence Services for eligible students.

Fees for residences have risen by three per cent annually for several years to cover increased costs due to inflation. A proposal will go to the Board of Governors later this Spring for incremental increases over 10 years.

The proposed increases are 13 per cent for 2015/16 or the equivalent of $68 a month for a single room and $52 a month for a double room. Increases in the subsequent years are six per cent for 2016/17 and six per cent in 2017/18 and four per cent in each of the next six years. These increases would be on the accommodation portion of housing fees, not the meal plans.

UVic’s average residence rates are anticipated to remain lower than other comparable institutions throughout the 10 years.

Despite annual spending of $1 million to $2 million annually on upkeep, a recent, comprehensive facilities review found that a more extensive maintenance program is needed due to the age of many of the residence buildings.

Some maintenance on buildings has been deferred to the point where delays will increase costs and resulting safety issues may result in loss of affordable housing units. The estimated cost of renewal work is currently valued at $81 million.

The new fee structure would also support construction of new campus accommodation, a priority identified in the university’s 2012 Strategic Plan.

First-year students coming to UVic directly out of high school are guaranteed a place in residence, which means there are few spaces available for upper-level students (only 100 to 150 spaces in 2014/15). The current number of beds in single student housing is 2,291 while the number of applications for 2014/15 was 5,000.

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Keywords: residence, administrative

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