The B.C. government is providing funding to expand on-campus housing by 25 per cent at the University of Victoria (UVic).

The UVic project is the second to access the BC Student Housing Loan Program, a $450-million initiative launched in this year’s provincial budget to make housing more affordable and available for students.

“Students have enough stress in their lives without having to worry about finding a place to live they can afford. We’re moving forward on our commitment to students at UVic and throughout the province to deliver comfortable and affordable housing in the heart of where they study,” said Premier John Horgan. “By increasing housing stock specifically for students, we’re also taking the pressure off local rental markets, giving more options to other renters.”

Victoria has one of the lowest rental vacancy rates in the province, and the university receives more applications every year for on-campus housing than there are spaces available. The on-campus student housing will be more affordable than market housing and includes amenities such as student group and study space, an Indigenous student lounge, communal social spaces, laundry facilities and secure indoor bicycle storage.

The new student housing project at UVic will consist of two new buildings that will accommodate 782 students in addition to a new dining hall and multipurpose space. The project replaces three aging buildings and represents a net gain of 620 student homes.

The Premier added the UVic project will be the first on-campus housing to use the Passive House construction standard, the primary aim of which is to achieve exceptional energy efficiency. The result is a building that uses 75 per cent less energy for heating and cooling, and at least 50 per cent less overall energy than a typical construction design.

“Projects like this are part of the direction our government, working with the B.C. Green Party caucus, is setting for British Columbia to tackle climate change. We are committed to taking hold of new technologies and new ideas to create a cleaner, less polluting and more energy-efficient future for our province,” Horgan said.

The estimated cost of the total project is $201 million. The Province is providing financing of $123 million and the University of Victoria Foundation is providing up to $45 million. UVic will provide the balance. Provincial funding includes $98 million from the BC Student Housing Loan Program for student housing and $25 million from the ministry capital budget toward half the cost of the dining hall.

UVic has approximately 22,000 students with 75 per cent from outside the Greater Victoria area. Victoria has a rental vacancy rate of around 0.7 per cent.

Construction on the first building at UVic is expected to start in 2020 with 418 new and replacement student homes by fall 2022. Construction on the second building is expected to start in 2022 with the final 364 new student homes ready by fall 2024.

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