Friday, October 15, 2021

Terrace Celebrates Student Housing, Library renovations at Coast Mountain College

Anne Kang, the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills
Training was in Terrace Thursday.  Taking part in the opening of new
student housing and a renovated library at Coast Mountain College

Well, as things turned out, it seems that a cabinet minister will travel a great distance for a ribbon cutting, or in the instance of Thursday, the celebration of the completion of Student Housing and Library renovations for the Terrace campus of Coast Mountain College.

An enthusiastic Advanced Education and Skills Minister Anne Kang joined Laurie Waye, Interim President of Coast Mountain College and a number of college officials and guests on hand  for the noon hour event Thursday in Terrace. 

The Minister sharing some effusive commentary following her tour of the facility, noting what it means for those attending the Terrace campus.

“The care and attention to detail in these projects will inspire students to learn more about the world around them, all while creating a safe place to call home as they adjust to life on campus. This increased student housing will also reduce the demand for rental housing in the community, helping to alleviate the housing market pressures throughout Terrace.”

As for the new housing facility, a statement from the Minister's office provides the details of what students can look forward to from their new home on campus.

The new student housing building, called Wii Gyemsiga Siwilaawksat, replaces housing that was more than 40 years old. The building’s name translates to “where learners are content or comfortable.” This is reflected in the choice to include two suites for visiting families of students, an Elder suite, two shared kitchens, two collaboration areas, a computer lab, an e-sports room and bike storage. 

A central area features a variety of Indigenous fine art created by alumni and instructors from CMTN’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art. The building features two three-storey wings with 108 beds (104 student beds, up from 71 in the previous spaces). 

The renovated Spruce Building Library, called Waap Sa’mn, is also open. The space includes an Indigenous reading circle area that houses Indigenous collections, as well as learning and administrative spaces. The renovation was needed following a 2018 flood in the basement of the building. Phase 2 of the building renovation is expected to be complete in fall 2022.

During her presentation, the Minister had praise for the work of MLA's Nathan Cullen from Stikine and North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, as well as to offer up a shout out for Skeena MLA Ellis Ross.

"I would like to thank in particular the advocacy of North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, as well as MLA for Stikine Nathan Cullen who helped push these projects forward"

Ms. Rice herself, providing a statement for the occasion to celebrate the campus amenities that have been constructed in Terrace.

“Resiliency is the key to success, and having a welcoming and inclusive place to call home while broadening one’s perspectives through study makes an important difference in the lives of our young adults. The reach and impact of CMTN is felt throughout Northern British Columbia, and the new student housing and renovated library are a fantastic example of how thoughtfully designed buildings can positively influence the lived experience of so many people.”

The Terrace announcement was not the only college housing statement on the day, with the province celebrating student housing for college campus locations in the Kootenay's on Thursday.

As well as part of their housing victory tour, the government  provided a handy checklist of all of their recent student housing initiatives across the province.

All of which serves to remind students attending the Prince Rupert campus of Coast Mountain College that there seemingly has been little progress to be found for some housing locally; the topic one which goes back to the days of former Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem who championed the need more than eight years ago.

The last we heard of any work towards a local housing option came in March of this year, when we noted that Sarah Zimmerman, the former communications director for the college had observed that the college continues to explore opportunities for campus housing for Prince Rupert.

"While we have housing in Prince Rupert and Smithers in our 5-year capital plan, and as a request for funding from the Provincial government, we do not have any projects or funding to announce in either of those communities. That said, we continue to look explore opportunities in both those communities." -- Sarah Zimmerman, Coast Mountain College March 2021

As part of our review of the challenges for community housing of earlier this year, we outlined how the City of Prince Rupert had identified student housing as one part of their recently approved new Zoning revisions, those changes coming out of their work on the Official Community plan of this year.

Still despite all of that, and with a significant crunch when it comes to rental housing in the city there does not appear to be much urgency attached towards developing student housing for the student population that have chosen Prince Rupert for their college education. 

A growing number of which include International students arriving in the community for their studies at the Fifth Street campus.

What should be a concern for civic officials and the MLA for that matter,  is that with continued roll out of campus improvements being added to the Terrace campus, students will in the end migrate east and not even explore their options on the North Coast. 

Something that would diminish the vibrancy of the Prince Rupert campus and its footprint in the city's downtown core.

The need for campus housing and housing in general in the community today, is one that is even more desperate than that of eight years ago. 

Hopefully one day in the very near future, MLA Rice and the Advanced Education Minister can host a celebration on the North Coast that announces the completion of student housing for those pursuing their studies in this area.

You can review the full statement on the Terrace housing here, the video of the Celebration is available from the BC Government You Tube page.

More notes related to Coast Mountain College across the Northwest can be reviewed here.

A look at the current concerns over housing in Prince Rupert can be examined from our archive page here.

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