The University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) is partaking in talks to construct a new dormitory-style student residence on the UTSC campus to address increasing demand for on-campus accommodation.
According to the residence project’s Planning Committee, the proposed nine- or 10-storey residence building would be constructed north of Ellesmere Road and east of the planned rerouted Military Trail, a space that is currently occupied by 358 parking spaces.
The 750-bed residence would include a mix of private and dormitory style accommodations, bringing the total number of residence beds at UTSC up to 1,261 from 765 by the time the project is completed in March 2020.
Additionally, the space would house a new 250-seat campus dining hall, commercial retail space, as well as student support and academic services, including the Student Housing and Residence Life offices.
There has been a pronounced shortage of residence spaces at UTSC as enrolment figures have increased over the years. While student enrolment at UTSC has increased by 45 per cent between 2004 and 2015, residence spots on campus have not reflected the growing demand for accommodation.
With an average wait list of 145 for residence spots over the last three years, most students resort to finding off-campus accommodation, the planning committee found.
The new residence building project hopes to remedy such figures, aiming to take the percentage of UTSC students living in residence from the current six per cent up to nine per cent by the 2019–2020 academic year.
“While the University of Toronto Scarborough has benefited from strong enrolment growth, it has exhausted its physical capacity to satisfy residence demand based on existing facilities. Student Housing and Residence Life currently has an inventory of 765 beds and new beds have not been added since Joan Foley Hall opened in 2003 although undergraduate enrolment has grown by 58%,” reads a portion of the residence’s Project Planning Committee report on March 22.
UTSC’s Media Relations Officer Don Campbell echoed similar sentiments in an email statement to The Varsity about the new student residence.
“We’re very excited about this project for a number of reasons,” he said.
“Our main goal is to really enhance the student experience, especially in terms of building a sense of community among our first-year students,” Campbell continued. “We’re looking to do this in the way the residence rooms are configured as well as the availability of student lounges, academic spaces, multi-use spaces and dining facilities that will be in the building.
“We currently have 765 residence beds on campus, so this project is also about meeting demand for more spaces. We’re also sensitive to concerns from our neighbors and local political leaders about off-campus housing, so we want to address some of these concerns by creating high quality, sustainable spaces that our students will enjoy,” said Campbell.
Since the plan is still making its way through council, Campbell noted that “there’s still no cost associated with the project,” although potential funding sources are being identified. According to the committee’s documents, the new residence building would be funded through “a capital investment through an investor partnership that would reimburse the University for all construction costs and associated fees.”
The project is still in its early days, however it will have to go through several more stages of approval before construction begins.
The Business Board will discuss the plan on April 6 before it is taken to the UTSC Campus Council for recommendation, as well as the Academic Board and Executive Committee later in the month.
Governing Council will then consider the plan for approval on May 18, 2017.