Minister of Advanced Education & Skills Training Anne Kang has announced that Selkirk College will move forward on a $24.5 million project to build a new 112-bed facility on the Castlegar Campus and a 36-bed student housing building on the Silver King Campus.
“When students can focus on their studies, they are more likely to succeed in their educational goals,” Kang says. “That’s why we are investing in student housing throughout B.C. as part of our Homes for B.C. 10-year plan. Adding these new spaces in Castlegar and Nelson means more students can commit to their studies without the worries of where to call home during the school year.”
Listen to the recording of the October 14 announcement.
With more than 2,800 full-time students on its campuses and learning centres throughout the region, Selkirk College currently offers 100 beds at its student housing facility on the Castlegar Campus and 109 beds at the Tenth Street Campus in Nelson. Both new buildings will include two family units and two accessible units.
“It’s exciting to envision what this new housing will do for students who attend our regional college in the future,” says Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West and a Selkirk College alumna. “The college is a major driver of our regional workforce with graduates found in every corner of our communities. We need to ensure that while people are going to school, they have stable housing.”
Increasing Affordable Housing in West Kootenay
From social workers to nurses, millwrights to graphic designers and conservation officers to chefs, Selkirk College’s 60-plus programs are essential to moving the region forward with career-ready education. A significant capital project that is anticipated to break ground in early 2022, it is expected that students will be living in the new housing by September 2023.
“Equitable access to an affordable post-secondary education is fundamental to our mission,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “These new units will enable us to address the local student housing crisis and support more students with secure and stable housing. Having the opportunity to live affordably on campus near the classrooms and services means that students can focus on being successful in their courses and programs.”
The artist rendering of the two-story student housing building on Nelson’s Silver King Campus that will provide a total of 36 beds.
With extremely low vacancy rates both West Kootenay communities, the 148 new beds at Selkirk College will help address direct needs and free up housing stock in other parts of the region. The Nelson component of the project will be the first student housing offered at the Silver King Campus.
“The challenges of finding affordable housing for post-secondary students in the Nelson area has been an issue for many years,” says Brittny Anderson, MLA for Nelson-Creston. “We are working hard, in partnership with a variety of ministries and post-secondary institutions to provide affordable housing for British Columbians that need it the most. When students gain access to these new units, it takes pressure off the overall housing market and that is good news for everyone.”
On-Campus Housing Fundamental for Student Life
The $24.5 million project includes a $17.8 million grant from the government and a loan of $5.8 million. Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has come on board to provide the remaining $900,000 required to complete the two new facilities.
“We know affordable rental housing continues to be a significant challenge in the Columbia Basin, especially for students looking to pursue their studies in the region,” says Johnny Strilaeff, CBT’s president and CEO. “We’re excited to be partnering with Selkirk College to support these to projects in Nelson and Castlegar to address the local demand, enabling skills development, supporting overall community well-being and increasing housing options that are also energy efficient.”
On the banks high above the Columbia River, the new student housing building on the Castlegar Campus will add 112 new beds. On hand for the funding announcement was: (L-R) Selkirk College Vice President of Operations Kerry Clarke, Selkirk College President Angus Graeme, Columbia Basin Trust CEO Johnny Strilaeff, Rural Pre-Medicine Program student Jace Lamoureax, Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy and Nelson-Creston MLA Brittny Anderson.
Rural Pre-Medicine Program student Jace Lamoureax arrived to the Castlegar Campus from his home in the remote Duncan Lake community of Howser. A graduate of Kaslo’s JV Humphries School in 2020, Lamoureax is currently in his second year of studies and is involved in a number of student leadership roles at the college.
“Living in student housing, I’m only a short walk away from all of my classes and extracurriculars,” says Lamoureax. “It opens so many other opportunities as well, such as on-campus work, getting involved in the student community and being close to new friends. Living on campus makes the beginning of many students’ post-secondary journeys influential and unforgettable.”
The two projects are estimated to add 111 direct jobs and 59 indirect jobs during construction.