BCIT seeking to integrate ample new rental housing into Burnaby campus

Aug 3 2022, 12:49 am

Backed by provincial funding, BCIT already has plans to build a 12-storey mass timber student residence building at its Burnaby campus, containing 464 beds for students.

But the post-secondary institution has plans to go much further than that for the long-term growth and evolution of its 130-acre Burnaby campus.

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) is in the works between BCIT and the City of Burnaby to establish a framework for the post-secondary institution to pursue its vision, goals, and strategies outlined in its 50-year BCIT Campus Plan, which was first approved by the institution’s board of directors in 2018.

The campus plan calls for a wide range of supporting mixed uses that complement the main academic purposes, including on-campus housing for students and staff, restaurants and cafes, office, research facilities, and light manufacturing.

Currently, existing City policies do not permit the implementation of some of the land uses in the campus plan, including purpose-built rental housing not dedicated for students and staff, as well as hotels and liquor license establishments. The MOU states such proposals will be evaluated by the municipal government on a case-to-case, site-specific basis through the City’s rezoning application process.

As well, the campus is currently limited to building heights of 121 ft, based on City policies. The MOU suggests greater building heights can be considered in some areas, such as gateway sites to provide a “stronger urban character, enhance placemaking, and profile of the institution as a destination.”

Extra density through height is a necessity to achieve the campus plan’s goal of building 2,500 new additional on-campus homes by 2040, while also preserving long-term space for academic, research, and supporting uses.

The MOU stipulates that at least 60% of the total floor area of the buildings at the campus must be used for educational purposes, including teaching/learning spaces, meeting rooms, academic and administrative offices, research facilities, laboratories, libraries, social and recreational spaces for the BCIT community, and dedicated housing for students and staff.

Additionally, light manufacturing and associated storage floor area will be limited to a maximum of 40% of the total floor area of research and laboratory uses across the campus.

In its campus plan, BCIT notes that its long-term growth could result in the Burnaby campus expanding beyond its existing boundaries. Full-time student enrolment is projected to grow from over 15,000 students today to 20,000 to 25,000 students by 2041, at which point the Burnaby campus would need 50 to 65 more acres — even with densification and taller heights. Over the same period, the total floor area of the campus would grow from over 1.8 million sq ft today to between 2.1 and 2.7 million sq ft.

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