Friday, February 26, 2021

City maps out potential locations for Student housing in Prince Rupert; though so far no indication of any progress on theme from Coast Mountain College

The City has laid out some options on locations  for Coast Mountain College
should they wish to provide for some student housing in Prince Rupert

Monday's Prince Rupert City Council session provided for  one amendment to the city's zoning plans for downtown area, with inclusion of a note on availability of land for student housing, something which may catch the eye of officials at the Terrace home office of Coast Mountain College.

Included in the report from the city's contract planner Chris Buchan (available from Monday's Council Agenda) was some background on the challenges facing local and international students when it comes to find accommodation  in the city:

MAJOR CHANGES: Student Housing: Housing remains a challenging issue for the City of Prince Rupert. In response to the inquiry about student housing options in the City Core, it is proposed to provide a definition within the Zoning Bylaw for student housing and to included it as a permitted use in the C2 Zone. Student housing is proposed to be defined as follows: 

“A residential unit that can house up to 10 related or unrelated people. Residents of these developments must be registered as a post-secondary student. In the case of related people, only one of the family members needs to be registered as a post-secondary student.” 

This new permitted use will increase the housing options available in the downtown area to both local and international students. A new parking standard for student housing is proposed to be 0.2 vehicles per bedroom. This is a standard used for student housing in the City of Nanaimo for students registered to the local university. This standard is designed for residents who collectively have fewer vehicles. 

It also contributes to the desired density increase in the Prince Rupert downtown core. It is worth noting that because this use would only apply to C2 zones, transit services are provided throughout the downtown area.

Zoning Map provided as part of the Rupert Talks survey project underway
Student Housing is proposed as one use for areas designated as C2

(photo from City of PR survey material, click to enlarge)

The topic of Student housing has also been included as part of the City's current Rupert Talks consultation on the new zoning concepts recently introduced by Council. 

With City Council seeking comment and feedback from the public related to the need and their proposed location for the housing.

You can review Mr. Buchan's Report to Council from the City's Video Archive starting at the 58 minute mark. Though somewhat surprisingly, none of the members of Council had any follow up questions or observations to share on the topic from Monday's session.

We've followed the need for student housing through the last few years, the last update from Coast Mountain College coming seventeen months ago, when Sarah Zimmerman, the Executive Director of Community Relations for the college observed that they were aware of the need for such types of housing for the students attending the Prince Rupert campus.

"We know there is a need for student housing in Prince Rupert and we are currently exploring options for the community there. Student housing in Prince Rupert is part of Northwest Community College's five-year capital plan and we continue to work to try to move it forward there." -- Coast Mountain College  Executive Director of Community Relations, Sarah Zimmerman in September 2019

An artists rendering of what the new housing at the Terrace campus
of Coast Mountain College will look like once completed

Since then, Coast Mountain College has seemed to put much of its focus on student housing towards the Terrace campus where a significant expansion of housing stock is now underway.  

The College has also in recent years added to the options for students in Smithers, with a housing complex in place in that community to address the housing needs for the students at that campus.

At times, it seems that any desire for similar housing in Prince Rupert has become lost in the shuffle, with few updates to explain why there continues to be a delay in providing for some, or to suggest that progress is at hand.

With the City looking towards a rebirth of the downtown core through a range of new initiatives and zoning designations, the time may be right for Coast Mountain College to provide such an update for Prince Rupert residents.

Taking advantage of this new push for downtown development to offer up some hints on what plans they may have in mind to fill a very real need for housing for their local and international student community on the North Coast.

For more notes on Coast Mountain College see our archive page here.

No comments:

Post a Comment