Okanagan College Students' Union members Jennifer Meyers and Courtney Kindlein stand outside of The Shore development on Lakeshore Drive. The apartments will be curtailed specifically for students. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

College union glad to see focus on student housing

Kelowna - Okanagan College members attended the announcement of The Shore Thursday

Plans for a student-focused housing development on Lakeshore Drive is making members of Okanagan College’s student union happy.

Construction is underway for The Shore, an apartment complex aimed at students. Once completed, the complex will feature 103 units that will be available for students to rent from September to May.

Jennifer Meyers from Okanagan College Students’ Union spoke about the need for student housing during the project’s announcement Thursday morning at Gyro Beach.

“There’s absolutely a need for affordable housing… I know several of my friends rent a four-bedroom house and everybody has one bedroom, it’s really cramped. It can be difficult to even find something like that, just renting a bedroom, never mind an actual apartment.

“I also have friends who live in the residences at school which does provide affordable options, but that can also be not the most ideal situation if you’re someone who wants to focus on studying.”

The college and student’s union has been trying to come up with new ways to provide housing, and she’s glad the city and the development company are on board.

Meyers said one of the main goals of the college, the city and UBCO is to attract students and international students to the area, so finding housing is important. Finding affordable housing is also important.

“They’ll consider students when they set the rent price because market rates for students might not be affordable, so especially if you’re working a full-time minimum wage job, even that is hardly enough to afford rent.”

According to PadMapper, the median price of a one bedroom in Kelowna is $1,120 while two-bedrooms are $1,660.

Meyers lived with her mother during her time at Okanagan College, so she did not face the struggle of trying to find a rental in Kelowna, which has a vacancy rate of less than one per cent.

CEO Greg Appelt, of RISE Management, said there was a market opportunity to provide a complex for students.

“We’re two blocks from Okanagan College, the college is growing every year and there’s minimal housing on site for students. Package that to our proximity to a grocery store, which is very important for our apartment rental and being across from the beach, it’s a perfect combo.”

College officials say student enrollment was expected to be the highest ever in 2018-19, surpassing its previous record of 8,516 set in 2009-10.

The price of the rentals have yet to be announced, but Appelt said it will be set at market rent.

The first apartments will be available to rent for the school year of 2019.

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