British Columbia

UVic's new downtown condo project will have space for students

UVic Properties and Chard Development are partnering for a new condo project — and they say some students will benefit.

Students will get preference for some of the market rental units

The Ducks Building — in the 1300 block of Broad Street — is one of the buildings that UVic Properties planned to renovate into a condo development project that would give rental preference to students. That plan has now been scrapped. (Google Maps)

The University of Victoria's property division has partnered with a developer to redevelop three downtown properties into market housing — some of which will be prioritized for students squeezed out by city's housing crunch.

UVic Properties, the manager of the university's revenue properties, and Chard Development Ltd. have proposed to redevelop three properties on Broad Street including the historic Duck's Building.

The properties were passed on to the university almost 20 years ago.

Peter Kuran, the president of UVic Properties, said the plan is to renovate the Duck's Building and construct two new buildings on either side of it with condos, commercial space and rental units.

The development will include 52-unit market rental complex that student tenants will be given preferential access to.

Victoria's extremely tight rental market — it has a vacancy rate of 0.5 per cent — is a major challenge for students.

Kuran said the new development would serve the needs of some students.

"We know that there are a lot of students that would like to live downtown, particularly graduate students or 12 month students who would work well in that UVic Properties type of asset," he said.

"This is an ideal situation where we can provide some housing ... It's really an ideal fit for us."

Affordability questioned

Anmol Swaich, the director of campaigns and community relations with the University of Victoria Student's Society, said while the progress on housing is welcomed and the university's attempt to look for creative solutions commendable, it does not address the issue of affordability.

"The affordability and accessibility of these housing developments is questionable. The market rate downtown is out of reach for many students from a lower-income background. Our goal is to see the construction of affordable on-campus housing for students and that has not be addressed yet," she said.

The project's next steps including submitting a rezoning and development permit application to the City of Victoria and a public consultation with the city's land use committee.

With files from On The Island