UPEI get­ting new year-round res­i­dence

Journal Pioneer - - ISLAND - BY RYAN ROSS Ryan.ross@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

A new year-round res­i­dence at UPEI and ad­di­tional af­ford­able hous­ing units around the prov­ince were two of the mea­sures the pro­vin­cial govern­ment an­nounced Thurs­day to ad­dress P.E.I.’s hous­ing crunch. Dur­ing a news con­fer­ence, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Heath Mac­Don­ald an­nounced 175 hous­ing units and the 260-bed res­i­dence at UPEI.

Mac­Don­ald said there’s al­ways more work to be done.

“We un­der­stand that, but I think we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion” he said.

With the new UPEI res­i­dence, Mac­Don­ald said stu­dents will be able to live there year-round, un­like the cur­rent setup that forces them to leave af­ter the school year ends.

That res­i­dence will cost about $25-$30 mil­lion with the univer­sity cov­er­ing some of the costs. Mac­Don­ald said stu­dents who live in the res­i­dence will pay a dif­fer­ent rate than those in the univer­sity’s other res­i­dences.

“It will be a rea­son­able rate,” he said.

An at­tempt was made to speak to some­one at UPEI about the res­i­dence, but a spokes­woman said the univer­sity couldn’t pro­vide more de­tails be­cause the agree­ment with the prov­ince still needed to be fi­nal­ized.

In a mes­sage UPEI pres­i­dent Alaa Abd-El-Aziz is­sued to the cam­pus com­mu­nity Thurs­day about the govern­ment’s hous­ing an­nounce­ment, he said growth in en­rol­ment by in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and those from other parts of Canada has led to in­creased de­mand for hous­ing.

The an­nounce­ment of a new res­i­dence was the cul­mi­na­tion of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween UPEI and the pro­vin­cial govern­ment, Abd-El-Aziz said.

“It will help us to ac­com­mo­date more of our lo­cal and off-Is­land stu­dents’ hous­ing needs and also al­low more stu­dents to ex­pe­ri­ence res­i­dence life.”

UPEI stu­dent union pres­i­dent Will McGuigan said, as a stu­dent who knows there has been a hous­ing cri­sis in Char­lot­te­town over the last few years, he thinks it’s great to see the prov­ince make the in­vest­ment in the univer­sity. “I’m very happy to see this come for­ward,” he said.

The pro­vin­cial govern­ment re­cently said it was on track to ex­ceed its goal of 275 new af­ford­able hous­ing units in P.E.I. in 2018. Mac­Don­ald and Hu­man Ser­vices Min­is­ter Tina Mundy an­nounced Thurs­day fund­ing for a fur­ther 175 af­ford­able hous­ing units across P.E.I.

Of those, 100 will be al­lo­cated for Char­lot­te­town and the other 75 will go out­side of the prov­ince’s two cities. Mac­Don­ald said the an­nounced plans, mi­nus the res­i­dence, come with a $30-mil­lion price tag.

He also an­nounced a Fi­nance P.E.I. loan fund will link the agency with de­vel­op­ers who want to build af­ford­able hous­ing units.

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