New student housing
Spotlight: Creating a home away from home
May 10, 2021
Working as a First Nations Access Coordinator, Jillian Stephens has her hands full when it comes to running cultural programs and supporting students at Coast Mountain College.
But when the opportunity came up to help curate a theme for the interior aesthetic of the new student accommodation building on the Terrace campus, she just couldn’t say no. For her, this new building is an opportunity for the College to make the right impression on its students and visitors.
“The general theme for the building is based on Indigenous functions, we’re answering the call to action to build student capacity with intercultural understanding and mutual respect,” she explains. “Being the school of choice for place-based experiences, we wanted that feeling to be imbedded from the start for a student with housing, by creating that home away from home feeling and building that connection.”
Located at the corner of McConnell Ave. and Highway 113, it’s hard to miss the sprawling construction of the three-story building. As the College continues to grow with both domestic and international students, the need for better student accommodation can no longer be put aside.
The new student accommodation building will replace the 40-year-old-buildings on campus following an $18.7 million investment from the province, announced September 2019. Once completed this fall, it will house a large cultural space, 108 student rooms, two hotel suites, an elder suite, two shared kitchens, two collaboration areas, a computer lab, an Esports room, two shared kitchens and bike storage.
“It looks just as big as it sounds. I went in there recently for a site visit and the building is massive. It's beautiful, spacious and it's already welcoming — I can only imagine what it's going to feel like once we start filling it,” Stephens says.
After many months of planning, Stephens and the housing team will finally start bringing the building to life. Their theme draws on the beauty of the rugged landscape of the Northwest and the distinct cultural aspects of the surrounding First Nations territories.
"We thought about how we can combine different types of people coming together in one space. From those who grew up here to those who just immigrated into Canada,” she says. “We know how difficult it is for First Nations students leaving their community, so we wanted to have aspects of their home here to lower their anxieties... but we also wanted it to be an experiential piece for international students so they can still experience the North even when they can’t be outside all the time.”
Stephens says overall, the incredible mountains here are what attract us and make this place home. Embarking from that frame of reference, each floor and wing is to illustrate a different aspect of the trail-walking experience outdoors. “We wanted our first floor to be the root of where we are, which is the grounding aspects of nature and the foundation of ourselves,” she says, adding that details of leaves and water will be found throughout that level to reflect growth. The two cultural spaces and elder suite have been intentionally placed there to represent community and wisdom.
The second floor is intended to be an “eye-level experience”, where Stephen says allusions to local wildlife, such as animals and flora, will be the main way to express “sharing the land”. “The second floor is where we create things together. We focused on the harvesting, creating and the sharing of our region, and what would be happening here through the dining and collaboration areas.”
As for the third floor, Stephen says the theme will be the “bird’s eye view of it all” where the scenic mountains and lakes are ingrained into this level. Throughout the entire building, accents of red and traditional neutral colours will be entrenched amongst wooden cedar panels and a variety of artwork.
“We are working with 10 artists from across the Northwest region, from talented people who focus on traditional form lines, contemporary digital art to photography. We will fill these themes with their pictures and prints so with whatever they create, we want students walking through to see and feel their perspective of the region,” she says.
With so much heart already invested into the project, Stephens says she’s most excited about the Elders suite. This mountain-view room includes a kitchen, a living room and a private bedroom.
View the full spotlight story here.
Coast Mountain College construction projects bring jobs to Terrace
May 10, 2021
Source: BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training
TERRACE - Students are not the only ones to benefit from three major construction projects at Coast Mountain College.
An estimated 318 jobs have been created locally on work to build 108 student housing beds, a library renovation and a renewed, more accessible academic and registration hub.
"These projects will not only deliver upgraded learning spaces for students in Terrace and surrounding communities, but also create good jobs for local workers with benefits flowing to their families and into the local area as well," said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. "It's exciting to think of the collaborations, learning and personal growth that will be inspired inside the walls of these new facilities when they are complete."
The B.C. government has invested $34 million on the projects, with the college providing $1 million toward the student housing. The ministry estimates the jobs break down as 221 direct jobs and 64 indirect jobs. An estimated 33 more jobs would be created as a result of direct and indirect employees and their families spending those employees' incomes on consumer goods and services.
"Students, regardless of where they live in the province, deserve the best we can offer in student housing thats also on par with urban centres," said Nathan Cullen, MLA for Stikine. "These critical renovations, in addition to 108 new student housing beds, provide the type of major upgrades that show students they're entering a post-secondary institution they can be proud of. This is also a great investment in the region and will have impact on the Terrace economy."
As part of the overall $34-million investment, government announced $4.4 million in June 2020 for a library renewal, giving students dedicated space to study and learn following a 2018 flood that impacted the basement of the Spruce Building (Waap Sa'mn.
"I can't wait to see the response of our students, communities, staff and faculty to these incredible renovations and new spaces," said Justin Kohlman, president, Coast Mountain College. "These provincial investments will ensure our students will have leading-edge experiential learning provided in a unique learning environment that honours our region."
The library renovation is expected to be completed this summer. It is co-ordinated with renovations to the two floors above where the main-entry registration hubs, learning space and faculty/administrative offices will be. These renovations are expected to be completed for fall 2022.
In addition, 108 new student housing beds, including one Elder suite and two visitor suites, are Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training set to be ready for students in fall 2021.
The $9 million upgrades to the top two floors of the Spruce Building (Waap Sa'mn) include:
- an accessible focal-point entryway with automatic doors;
- improvements to front-of-house services, including computers, registration counter and staff offices;
- more flexible learning spaces, furniture and technology for students to collaborate;
- reconfigured and modernized faculty and administrative spaces; and
- an upgrade of building's HVAC, electrical, mechanical and technology to improve energy efficiency, air quality and comfort.
The Gitxsan, Haisla, Haida, Tsimshian, Nisga'a, Wet'suwet'en and Métis Nation are in Coast Mountain College's service area. Design elements of the student housing and library are expected to honour and strengthen the college's relationship with the First Nations and the Métis Nation it serves across its regional campuses. The new student housing facility and library are anticipated to feature Indigenous art created by instructors, alumni and students in the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.
"We are so grateful for this support for our students because these projects truly lay the foundation for their success," said X'staam Hana'ax, (Nicole Halbauer), Chair, Board of Governors, Coast Mountain College.
The B.C. government is directly investing $1.7 billion in planned capital expenses in B.C.'s post-secondary sector over the next three years (2020-21 to 2022-23).
These projects align with the ministrys mandate to create opportunities for Indigenous peoples to be full partners in B.C.'s economy and provide a clear and sustainable path for everyone to work toward lasting reconciliation. They also support the plan to build 8,000 new student housing units as part of Homes for BC, the B.C. government's 10-year housing plan, and to support students to succeed in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.
View the full news release here.
New housing project under way in Terrace
Work is currently under way for brand new, affordable, on-campus student housing at Coast Mountain College’s Terrace campus, expected to welcome its first occupants in September 2021.
The new facility will create 108 new beds, replacing older housing units that are more than 45 years old, with a modern new facility. Provincial funding for the new housing unit was announced in September of 2019 and work began in earnest in 2020.
The new housing facility will particularly help students from rural and Indigenous communities to have a safe, comfortable and welcoming home away from home when they are attended face-to-face programming.
The building features two, three-storey wings and a central area that will feature a variety of First Nations fine art created by alumni and instructors from Coast Mountain College's Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.
The project includes a suite for elders in residence and two rooms for visiting families of students. Students will share common areas, kitchen facilities and laundry. Informal learning spaces, dining areas, an e-sports gaming room and a maker-space are other highlights of the building. First nations cultural space has also been included. And for students who use a bicycle to get around, a heated indoor bike storage area is part of the design.