THE University of British Columbia has officially opened the doors of the new Brock Commons North student residence building, providing 316 additional beds for students.
The 18-storey, $59 million building is part of the Brock Commons residence area, which includes Tallwood House (completed in 2017 with 404 beds), and will finish construction in spring 2024 with the completion of Brock South (282 beds). Total construction costs for the North and South residence buildings are $165 million.
“We’re excited to welcome student residents to North, and give more students the opportunity to live on campus,” said Andrew Parr, associate vice-president of UBC Student Housing and Community Services, on Wednesday. “We know the Vancouver rental market presents affordability and access challenges for some students. Being able to provide below market rate housing for students is a key goal for the university.”
UBC has invested $670 million in the last 12 years to build 5,550 new student residence beds on the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. UBC is the largest university provider of student housing in Canada with 15,325 beds on its two campuses (13,205 in Vancouver and 2,120 at UBC Okanagan).
“The investment is significant, but so are the benefits and demand for more spaces,” noted Parr.
Demand is growing every year. In 2010, when UBC began its student residence growth plan, the summer waitlist peaked at 3,200 students. Before COVID, that waitlist grew to more than 6,000 students and by the summer peak in 2022, there were over 8,000 students looking for a unit on campus that the university could not accommodate.
“Low vacancy and increasing rental rates are key drivers of demand in Vancouver and in Kelowna,” Parr said. “We have recently created a plan to construct at least 4,800 beds over the next 10-15 years as proposed in the Housing Action Plan as part of the recent community engagement on Campus Vision 2050. That number includes 3,300 new beds and 1,000 replacement beds for UBC Vancouver, and 500 new beds for UBC Okanagan. We are also exploring a new graduate student housing community for UBC Vancouver, which could increase that target. It is an ambitious plan with an estimated price tag of $1.4 billion.”
To enhance the residents’ experience and create a positive and safe experience for the community, services and amenities in residence have evolved significantly as the number of units available has increased. North features study rooms, a fitness room, games room, and music rooms as well as social spaces. The ground floor also includes legal clinic space for the Peter A. Allard School of Law and a student collegia space. Floors 3-18 are residential with 63 four-bedroom suites and 64 studio units, all furnished and all with kitchen appliances. A room in a four-bed unit is $1,142/month while a studio unit is $1,380/month.
Front desk services for residents living at North and Tallwood are temporarily being provided at nearby Exchange Residence. Brock Commons front desk services will be located in North and are expected to be in place by mid-2024.
Students at the new building (and all other residence buildings on the Vancouver campus) can access assistance overnight through the newly created Overnight Mobile Team which is in operation from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week. The team helps with issues such as building access, urgent room, unit or building problems and support for student wellbeing.
In addition to help overnight, students in residence can also choose to access mental health assistance through counsellors in residence, three counsellors dedicated to students in residence who complement the vast array of other mental health supports.
“UBC’s investment aside, students who live on campus pay below market rates for their units, can walk to classes and recreation facilities and fully immerse themselves in the campus community,” said Parr. “For some students, living on campus has shifted from just a place to live to something they really want to do to enhance their academic and social experiences while at university. We’re thrilled to welcome more students to their homes at UBC.”