KAMLOOPS — With vacancy rates in Kamloops sitting at just 1.2 per cent (according to the Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation), are students at Thompson Rivers University facing a housing crunch?
"I'm not exactly sure. We've heard anecdotally that there's more pressure," says Executive Director Athletics, Recreation and Ancillary Services Glenn Read. "We certainly have more students than expected. Enrolment has increased, which has maybe contributed to that rumour. But all of our beds on campus are full and have been full for many consecutive years."
He says TRU has two residence buildings which provide approximately 875 beds and Read notes a recent market study indicated they could use more.
"In their estimation we're 100 to 120 beds short based on the marketplace in Kamloops. But there are restrictions in terms of capital funding when it comes to building."
Read says those restrictions include a provincial law that means schools can't borrow money or go into debt to construct a building. He says the money has to be raised or come out of their own funding to build a housing option for students.
He admits it all makes it "a challenge to find affordable housing."
According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the average cost of a one-bedroom apartment was $823 in October 2017 in Kamloops, compared to $803 in 2016. The price of a two-bedroom apartment rose from $944 to $957.
"There's been a bit of a buzz around campus like other campuses. Kamloops has changed dramatically over the last five years with lots of new development including housing options for students. It's just a matter of that price point."
All that being said, Read feels optimistic moving ahead.
"I think the provincial government is looking at student housing across the province and potential shortfalls and we're optimistic that their stance on borrowing money will hopefully change and allow us to do different things to support students."
Thompson Rivers University Student Union Vice President External Cole Hickson says "students are absolutely facing a price squeeze," noting the cost of housing adds to the already hefty cost of education.
But he also shares Read's hope that things will change with the new NDP government in place.
"I'm very optimistic moving forward."
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