Cape Breton University has announced that a new residence will be built on campus. The plans for the three-level building include 12 apartment-style units and will cost more than $2.5 million.
The build comes amid a worsening housing shortage throughout Cape Breton Regional Municipality that has caused headaches for students seeking accommodations.
The new units will include kitchen spaces, meaning students will not need to enrol in a meal plan.
Doug Connors, the director of housing, food and ancillary services, said the rooms will have options for double occupancy and will be a popular choice for students looking to live on campus.
"The students have been very vocal about only being interested in units on campus where they can cook for themselves," he said.
Easing pressure on students, other residents
This year, residence buildings at the university have a vacancy rate of 12 per cent to 15 per cent, Connors said, which he attributes to a lack of kitchen facilities in the dorms.
Any addition to the housing stock will go a long way to easing pressure not only on students, but other residents of the island, he said.
"This is, you could call it, the first step, but we're going to continue to explore all options and leave no stone unturned to try to make some housing available for students," Connors said.
Doug Connors says the residence project is the first step in addressing housing issues throughout the community. (Matthew Moore/CBC)
Joneljim Construction is the development partner on the planned student residence, Connors said, which will be built by early 2025.
Recent changes made to MacDonald Residence have also been positive, he said.
The building had traditional dorm-style rooms with no kitchens available. The university invested $1.4 million this year to renovate the building and make cooking an option, eliminating the need for a mandatory meal plan.
Students have long been calling for additional beds on campus, and the president of the student's union said the additional 12 apartment units are a good start.
"They're trying their best and we are helping," said Sahilpreet Singh Chatha. "We are trying to work with them to try our best so that we can get the ultimate good for the students."
A recent survey of students at the university found that transportation, jobs and housing all emerged as challenges, he said. He hopes to see more solutions for all three issues.
"Our on-campus housing is almost fully filled right now," he said. "There's always going to be need."
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