Student housing needed

Re. Council applauds UBCO's decision to lower height of downtown campus (Castanet, Sept. 20)

Regarding the recent decision by UBCO to lower the height of its (planned) downtown campus from 46 to 43 storeys, Coun. Charlie Hodges remarked that providing 473 student beds flies in the face of homeowners looking to create secondary suites for students.

As a student, I find these comments infuriating and, frankly, offensive. I know many people, including myself, who have had tremendous amounts of stress finding housing in the months before the start of class. Some have had to find alternate living arrangements.

The waitlist for on-campus housing is very long every year. Some live far from campus, paying for expensive parking passes or waiting for infrequent buses.

Our province is in a housing crisis and Kelowna's rental rates are through the roof. According to Zumper, the median one-bedroom rent (in Kelowna) is $1,895, the fifth most expensive in the country, with a vacancy rate of 0.6%.

Does the councillor think it's acceptable to restrict housing supply when the cost of living continues to climb beyond unaffordable levels?

Regarding homeowners who want to open up suites for students, UBCO has more than 11,000 students and Okanagan College's Kelowna campus has more than 6,000. There will still be plenty of students looking for housing.

We need to stop entertaining the nonsense coming from NIMBYs and start building more, especially in a housing crisis like this.

Even though this specific project is just for UBCO students, that's 473 fewer people competing with everyone else for a roof over their heads.

Michael Ma

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