UBC planning changes to further access and affordability in Housing Action Plan review

UBC's Housing Action Plan (HAP) is undergoing a 10-year review, with the potential for significant revisions to address the university's growing demand for housing. 

First introduced by the Board of Governors in 2012, HAP was created after a consultation showed housing and affordability were of highest concern for students, faculty and staff. The purpose of HAP is to support the growth and development of housing for UBC's future. 

Andrew Parr, associate VP housing and community services, could not provide specifics about the revisions but said the Board subcommittee tasked with the revision is  focusing on "access, affordability and advocacy." This process has been ongoing for the past year.

He explained this meant addressing the amount and type of housing additions, criteria around fee structure and "advocating to the provincial government for a variety of things that support student housing."

The subcommittee created to oversee the revision process includes members of the UBC administration and a student representative from the AMS, the GSS and the Residence Hall Association.

The first review of the plan conducted in 2017 saw "housekeeping" changes, such as the removal of completed policies like building new student housing area in South Gage, but Parr said this year's review as being "more substantial." 

He explained this is in part to Campus Vision 2050 and the "strong correlation between" the two. 

While Parr is not part of Campus and Community Planning which overlooks Campus Vision 2050, he said UBC understands "the need for more housing, [and] more affordable housing for students... [and] the broader community."

Currently, UBC has 13,000 student residence beds on the Vancouver campus, and Parr said UBC hopes to increase this to 17,300 by the 2030s.

Whether this will be enough, Parr said, is "a hard thing to predict."

"Based on what we know today, and how we are predicting the future, that there will still be, with 17,000 beds, a gap between our supply and demand for student housing."

AMS President Eshana Bhangu and AMS councilors have said they believe this housing target is unambitious. In a recent Council meeting, Associate Director of Campus and Community Planning Joanne Proft said this target was a near-term goal based on funds currently available. 

Students have also expressed frustration about UBC housing increasing student housing rent by 3 to 8 per cent for the 2023/2024 school year.

The report will be presented to the Board of Governors for final reviews and endorsements in March.

"We'll continue to work… to move those projects forward and actually get to the point that we have tools in the ground and developing more student housing in the years ahead," Parr said.