Kekuli House on Selkirk College’s Castlegar Campus provides on campus housing for 100 students. (Chelsea Novak/Castlegar News)

Selkirk College details on-campus student housing need

Selkirk College staff offered a correction regarding student housing numbers included last week.

Last week the Castlegar News shared that a private developer plans to build student housing in Castlegar’s downtown, but Selkirk College staff offered a correction regarding the student housing numbers we included in that article.

While there is indeed a demand for 300 units of student housing that number only reflects the demand for on-campus housing and does not include the 200 units of on-campus housing that Selkirk College already has. Those numbers reflect the total demand and supply for both the Castlegar and Nelson campuses, leaving a shortfall of 100 units between both.

The college is in early discussions with the Province of B.C. to secure funding for housing projects to address the shortfall.

“We’re in really preliminary discussions … to add 50 units on each of the sites we own,” said Gary Leier, vice president of college services at Selkirk.

Once funding is secured, Leier estimates that design and construction will take an additional two years.

He also points out that 100 units are a moving target.

“Those numbers get dated the day they’re printed, but those are the numbers that we’re using,” he said.

But at the same time, Selkirk College has a finite capacity, which should limit the demand for on-campus housing.

“We can only take so many students, so it’s not like there would be an insatiable demand,” said Leier.

He explained that the current increase in demand has not come so much from an increase in enrollment — the college’s enrollment has been stable for many years — but from a shift in where students are coming from.

“Rather than traditionally being from local places, that could be living at home, they’re coming from elsewhere,” said Leier.

As for off-campus housing, the college doesn’t track that.

“Not all students want to live on campus and we don’t have any influence really on that housing stock and we don’t have a handle really on what those numbers are, because how do you track it?” said Leier.

But he reiterated that Selkirk is supportive of any private initiative that addresses housing needs.