Nova Scotia will add about 270 more beds to four Nova Scotia Community College campuses for affordable student housing, said Brian Wong, the minister of advanced education, at a briefing on Tuesday.
The initiative is expected to provide about 40 beds each for NSCC’s Cumberland campus in Springhill and Lunenburg campus in Bridgewater, 90 beds for Kingstec campus in Kentville, and about 100 beds for the Institute of Technology campus in Halifax.
The exact locations, construction costs and design of the housing have not yet been finalized, but Wong said the site for Halifax’s NSCC IT housing will be around the campus, possibly in a parking lot.
NSCC president Don Bureaux said they are “grateful for this substantial investment.” He said that the initiative would mean “increased accessibility for new applicants and also help alleviate the housing crisis in the communities where the campuses are located.”
There are three student accommodation projects under construction, at NSCC’s Akerley and Ivany campuses in Dartmouth and Pictou campus in Stellarton, providing a total of 350 beds, which will open in 2024 and 2025.
Eirik Larsen, a cybersecurity major at NSCC’s IT campus, is president of the campus’s student association. He said he is excited to see initiatives like this in place. “We desperately need housing for everyone, especially students,” said Larsen, adding that many people on campus find it hard to focus on their studies when they also have to worry about finding housing and expensive rent.
These four NSCC campuses have 2,250 enrolled students. Data shows that close to 50,000 post-secondary students will be enrolled in fall 2023 at the nine universities in Nova Scotia.
Wong said the government is looking at a range of 8-12 per cent of students in need of student housing at each school.
However, student housing at universities is different. Wong said NSCC’s project was made possible by the fact that the college is “a direct arm of government,” and has readily available land.
“The negotiations with the universities are different,” said Wong, “but we are certainly working with all of our post-secondary sectors to find solutions.”
Wong said plans and initiatives to add new student housing are crucial in easing the housing crisis in communities across the province.
“We do know that for every unit that we build, or that we create, it frees up the market in each of these communities, including here in North End Halifax,” said Wong.
But it takes time as more tradespeople are needed to move forward with construction. Wong said the government is accelerating the growth of the skilled trade sector with more than 5,000 apprenticeships over the next three years, many of whom will be trained at NSCC’s campuses across the province.
The number of workers needed to support the real estate and construction industry is also expected to increase by 1,000 a year.
“So the first step for post-secondary students to see Nova Scotia as their home is to have a place to stay,” said Wong, adding that the government is committed to ensuring students have increased options for housing across the province.
“We’re continuing to work on the strategy to make sure that we have meaningful things that are going to help our post-secondary sector including universities,” said Wong.
About the author
Yuan Wang comes from China. She has an interest in international news and non-fiction. She also has a background in documentary production.