Affordable on-campus housing expands for SFU Burnaby students

November 01, 2019

By Justin Wong

Students at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus will soon have access to hundreds more on-campus housing beds, freeing up much-needed rental housing in the Lower Mainland.

The B.C. government is supporting this expansion through a $73-million loan to the university to build a new student housing facility as part of the government’s 30-point plan on housing.

“This support for new student residences is a win-win for the university and the community,” says Andrew Petter, SFU president and vice-chancellor. “Not only will it significantly improve the quality of campus life for students, but it will also reduce pressure on the region’s housing market for the benefit of the communities we serve.”

The plan allows public post-secondary institutions around the province to help finance student housing projects. Since February 2018, the province has funded an additional 1,971 student beds at post-secondary schools. This represents an increase of 1,416 per cent from the 130 beds funded during the previous 16 years.

“By providing more student housing at post-secondary campuses throughout the province, the government is taking some of the pressure off students, while freeing up affordable rentals for people in communities like Burnaby, where there are low vacancy rates,” says Premier John Horgan. “This new housing at SFU is part of a six-year, $450-million investment to provide about 5,000 new beds at public post-secondary schools throughout B.C.”

Funding student housing is part of the government’s overall housing strategy. This includes a 10-year, $1.9-billion investment through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund to create more than 14,000 new affordable rental homes for low-to middle-income British Columbians. It also builds on the $208 million being invested over four years through the Affordable Rental Housing Program for 1,700 new affordable rental homes in communities throughout B.C.

“This new on-campus housing means that students attending SFU will be able to focus on their education instead of worrying about finding, and affording, a place to live,” says Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Building more on-campus housing has been a call to action from students our government is proud to answer. This increase in housing at SFU is part of our plan to build thousands of student homes on campuses throughout B.C.”

The $104-million project is scheduled to open in fall 2022 and will provide homes for an additional 369 first-year students. The energy-efficient design supports the province’s commitment to CleanBC and includes a 2,700-square-metre addition that will expand the current 256-seat dining commons to an 800-seat facility. This will triple the number of seats available for students during breaks and mealtimes.

“With the expensive rental market in the Lower Mainland, safe and affordable housing while studying in university is profoundly important because it helps in taking a major burden off the shoulders of students,” says Mohammad Daanyaal Sheikh, president of SFU’s Residence Hall Association. “In my own personal experience, living on campus has given me a greater sense of community and belonging, which has led to greater success in school and life overall. More student housing equals more student success, so I believe this residence expansion is exactly what this university and its students need.”