Canada: Province invests in mass timber student housing project for BCIT campus

Render of the upcoming 464-bed, 12-storey student housing project at BCIT’s Burnaby campus

Students attending the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in the coming years will have access to hundreds of new, affordable, and environmentally friendly on-campus housing. Melanie Mark, British Colombia’s Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, announced the new student housing project at BCIT, valued at nearly $115 million. The Province is investing $108.8 million towards BCIT’s new student housing project as part of government’s 30-point plan on housing, and BCIT is contributing $6 million towards this project.

“Students throughout the province have told our government the lack of affordable housing has stood in the way of their education and aspirations, and we committed to fixing this problem,” said Mark. “Building these new homes is answering a call to action from students and communities to support innovation and create more affordable, cleaner and, greener housing.”

The plan includes a BC Student Housing Loan Program for public post-secondary institutions that provides access to funds to help finance student housing projects over six years. This project will be the first investment in new student housing beds at BCIT in 38 years, and will support the construction of a 464-bed, 12-storey student housing project at the BCIT Burnaby campus. The project will be designed to reflect Indigenous culture in the region, and to support Indigenous learners by providing community spaces on the ground floor. The new building will be constructed using mass timber, a sustainable product that is cost effective, quicker to build, and has a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional concrete construction.

“Mass timber is key to diversifying and creating a more resilient forest sector as we work to transition to high-value over high-volume production,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “It’s great to see the ripple effects from the expanded use of sustainably harvested, low-carbon wood products in BC buildings. It helps combat climate change and brings people back to work in forestry-related jobs, while this project creates housing for hundreds of future BCIT students.”

“This investment will allow BCIT students to access sustainable on-campus housing to support their journey to a new or expanded career through an industry-relevant applied education. This new mass timber housing project is a key component of BCIT’s commitment to support the future social and economic prosperity of the province in a way that respects our spectacular natural environment,” said Kathy Kinloch, President, BCIT.

BC is a leader in the use of mass timber as an innovative way to reduce the carbon footprint of the building sector, while supporting well-paying jobs for people in communities throughout the province. This project will also support regional economic development, creating about 700 direct and indirect jobs in local communities through the manufacturing process.

The Province’s investment means opportunities for local workers in the forestry sector, strong partnerships with First Nations and greater economic opportunity, while also making a significant contribution to advancing CleanBC. The energy-efficient design supports the Province’s commitment to CleanBC and will meet Step 4 of the BC Energy Step Code. 

CleanBC is a pathway to a more prosperous, balanced and sustainable future. CleanBC was developed in collaboration with the BC Green Party caucus and Andrew Weaver, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, and supports the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Agreement to implement climate action to meet BC’s emission targets.