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Construction starting on Douglas College student housing in New West

Premier David Eby visited New Westminster to celebrate the start of construction of a $292.5-million project providing housing and other spaces for Douglas College.

Construction is now underway on what’s being called the province’s largest capital investment in a project that includes student housing.

Premier David Eby visited New Westminster on Thursday morning to celebrate the start of construction of a project at the corner of Eighth Street and Royal Avenue. The project aims to provide Douglas College students with access to affordable, on-campus housing for the first time.

"One of the biggest challenges facing students today is finding a safe, secure and affordable place to live close to campus," Eby said in a news release. "That's why our government is building new student housing at an unprecedented pace, including the very first student residence at Douglas College.”

Mitchie Nguyen, a commerce and business administration student at Douglas College, welcomes the creation of student housing in New Westminster.

"The prospect of having on-campus housing at Douglas College is incredibly exciting,” Nguyen said in a news release. “808 Royal will be a place for students like me to be fully immersed in the college experience, to build community, feel connected and be supported while balancing academics, work and life."

According to a provincial government press release, the project is one of the B.C.’s largest capital investments in student housing and it is the province’s largest-ever capital investment in a project that includes student housing.

The project is being built at the corner of Eighth Street and Royal Avenue – across from Douglas College’s main New Westminster campus. The college also has space in Anvil Centre, just down the hill from the main and the construction site.

“This integrated student housing and academic building – the largest-ever provincial capital investment that includes student housing – will allow students to live where they learn and significantly reduce pressure on the local rental market,” Eby said.

The 20-storey building will have 368 student beds in one-, two- and four-bed units. The integrated building also includes new classrooms, student collaboration spaces, labs, offices, food services and parking.

Lisa Beare, B.C.’s Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, said this project is another step in the province’s plan to build 12,000 student beds across British Columbia through its Homes for People action plan.

"This government is acting quickly to build more homes for post-secondary students,” she said. “Douglas College's first student-housing beds and new academic space will allow more students to live on campus and focus on their studies."

The provincial government provided the post-secondary institution with $202.3 million to support the $292.5-million project. Douglas College provided the remaining $90.2 million.

"The construction of 808 Royal upholds our vision to foster an even more vibrant campus community, enriching the Douglas College student experience for years to come,” said Douglas College president Kathy Denton. “This project will give hundreds of students a place to call home on campus as they pursue their studies to adapt, innovate and lead in this changing world."

The project is expected to be complete by summer 2027, with students moving in for the fall semester.

"This marks a significant milestone for Douglas College students in New West,” said New Westminster MLA Jennifer Whiteside. “Upon completion of the new student housing building, nearly 370 post-secondary students will enjoy the advantages of a safe, secure and conveniently located residence just steps away from their classes.”

Added Whiteside: “This development isn't just beneficial for Douglas College but for the entire New West community, as it enhances student living and adds much-needed affordable housing."

In August 2022, Whiteside and other officials gathered at Douglas College’s New West campus as part of the provincial government’s announcement about funding for 808 Royal.

The site at the corner of Eighth Street and Royal Avenue has been vacant for years. It was once owned by the City of New Westminster and was home to the city’s main fire hall, before the Glenbrook hall was built on East Sixth Avenue.