As the shovels were pushed into the ground by Brock University senior staff and student leaders, an important construction project on the main St. Catharines campus officially kicked off on Monday, Oct. 28.
Answering the request for more on-campus housing from students and the community, the University broke ground on Residence 8, a $40-million, six-storey student residence expected to be completed by the summer of 2021. The project is self-funded and will contribute to the University’s operating budget when it opens.
University President Gervan Fearon said Brock’s reputation for academic excellence and student experience has led to record enrolment and more students wanting to enrich their university experience by living on campus.
“We have a responsibility to help more students have that experience, but Brock also has a duty to our host communities,” said Fearon. “Brock needs to be part of the solution. We need to help accommodate the people we are attracting, and that’s what we are doing today. Residence 8 is a positive move for Brock and for our host communities.”
Residence 8 is the first Brock-owned housing complex to be built on campus since Lowenberger opened in 2003, when the University’s enrolment jumped because of the end of Grade 13 in Ontario high schools. The new facility’s 300 beds will increase Brock’s housing capacity to nearly 2,800.
“This project is important because demand for residence exceeds our capacity,” said Director of Residences Jamie Fleming. “We have a long waiting list, so we could have filled this residence this year if it was open.”
He said living on campus is an important part of the student experience that Brock is recognized across the country for.
“Many of our students choose to live in residence and many initially do so because they find it convenient, but very quickly realize there’s a whole experience that goes along with it,” he said. “It’s a very safe, comfortable and welcoming environment that makes them feel engaged with what’s happening on campus.”
Residence 8 will be built beside the existing Alan Earp Residence using a section of what is currently Parking Lot M. In order to accommodate the building and to increase the University’s parking capacity overall, a new parking lot will be built on the east side of Ray Woodfield Drive parallel to Glenridge Avenue.
The new housing facility will include a new dining hall, a 24/7 service desk for students and a hub for Conference and Events Services.
The University also recently announced it was exploring opportunities to partner with private developers to increase student housing options by building residences near the main campus or in downtown St. Catharines near Brock’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts.