While the wildfire situation has improved, and many evacuation orders and alerts are being rescinded, UBC Okanagan is now making plans for the coming school year.
While classes for the next academic year are scheduled to begin September 5, many students are struggling to find accommodation due to displaced or evacuated residents living in temporary rentals. UBCO's Associate Vice-President, Students Dale Mullings says there is always a housing crunch in the Okanagan but the recent wildfire situation has intensified the problem.
UBCO has 10 residence buildings and can house more than 2,100 students, with additional residence expansion planned in the near future. That is still not enough space for the rapidly growing campus community.
"These past few days have created unexpected challenges for us all," he adds. "We have been overwhelmed with requests from our community members asking how they can help. We can't thank our community enough."
Mullings says there are two easy ways for people to support UBCO students. Firstly, if they have spare rooms or vacant suites in their homes they can assist by providing temporary student accommodation specifically for students. People with accommodation space can list it on Places4students.
Places4Students is an online tool that showcases available accommodations for students. Landlords and property managers can advertise their rental vacancies at no charge directly to students on the platform.
"Places4student is the perfect venue to list any accommodation you might have that might temporarily help an incoming student," adds Mullings. "Some of UBC Okanagan's students are displaced due to the current evacuation orders and wildfire situation in the Okanagan. If you have a spare bedroom or suite and wouldn't mind having a student stay for a short period, please visit the site and consider listing your space."
Places4Students works in conjunction with academic institutions and student organizations to provide off-campus housing solutions for students. More than 190 college and university campuses throughout North America have partnered with the company since 2003.
The website also features rental housing-related information, tips and resources for both students and landlords. For more information, visit?places4students.com/landlord.
Mullings also notes if people can, they are encouraged to contribute to UBC Okanagan's Student Emergency Assistance Fund.
The Student Emergency Assistance Fund was created this week to raise funds for students impacted by the wildfire. Currently, more than 700 students have expressed a need for financial assistance and more than $70,000 has been raised by contributions from the community.
"Again, I can’t thank our community enough for the outpouring of support," adds Mullings. "We are indeed fortunate to have such wonderful neighbours and residents of the Okanagan who reached out to ensure our UBCO students are safe and cared for."