By Jeremy Woo
The University of Calgary’s residence facilities will soon undergo major expansion under a new residence master plan.
The new plan, which was approved by the U of C’s Board of Governors, will cost an estimated $240 million over 15 years.
The main goals are to expand residence capacity and improve the quality of life for students living on campus, according to executive director of Residence and Ancillary Services Voula Cocolakis.
Phase one of the plan will be completed by June 2015 and will include a new undergraduate building for upper-year students, a new graduate student building and an additional 580 beds.
Also part of the plan is the decommissioning of the Olympic legacy residences, more programming to support student academics, an outdoor plaza between the residences and potentially an outdoor skating rink, according to Cocolakis.
June 2019 will see another new graduate student residence building, followed in 2021 by a 480-bed first-year student building. Cascade Hall renovations are the final phase of development in 2026.
“More students will be able to be a part of a strong, very supportive community,” said Cocolakis of the new construction. “It’s all about the community built within residences.”
According to Cocolakis, the plan is part of the U of C’s Eyes High strategy, with the goal of increasing on-campus housing capacity from 8 per cent of the undergraduate population to 15 per cent. The benefits of residence life have fueled the need for more on-campus housing.
“Residence is not just a place to live,” said Cocolakis. “We know it has a significant impact on retention and the academic success of our students.”
First-year business major David Zuo lives in residence.
“The benefits outweigh the disadvantages,” said Zuo. “You don’t have to spend as much time on the road.”
However, Zuo said that improvements could be made to residence buildings.
“The dorms can be renovated and made larger,” said Zuo.
Students’ Union vice-president student life Hayley Wade agrees with the new residence master plan.
“Improving how many students are able to live on campus will really help. Students living on campus really get to engage with other students,” said Wade.
The SU has plans to voice the opinions of students living on residence, as consultation efforts are in the beginning stages.
“We feel it’s very important that students are consulted,” said Wade. “We have been working not only with the Resident Students’ Association but Residence and Ancillary Services to ensure that students are fully consulted to make sure that feedback is heard and incorporated into future planning of these buildings.”
The SU is currently compiling a document to submit to Residence and Ancillary Services that incorporates student feedback and what students would like to see in the plan, according to Wade.
Students living in residence will not be affected by new construction on campus.
“Our current buildings will not be affected in any way,” said Cocolakis, ensuring that residence life would not be interrupted.
“I’m excited about the fact that we’re looking at increasing the residence population because I know what a significant impact it has on the student experience on this campus,” said Cocolakis.
Fourth-year Canadian studies student Karisa Richardson, who lives in Cascade, said the main issue with residence is basic maintenance.
“I think that’s my biggest complaint, that things are broken when you get there and that they’re not clean,” said Richardson.
She said an overhaul could be beneficial if money was allocated properly.