Tallwood House construction delays impact incoming residents

On August 1, students began moving into the new Tallwood House of Brock Commons residence. The opening of this innovative wooden structure has been anxiously awaited by the UBC community, but its new residents are reporting various construction delays that have impacted their daily lives.

“The washing machines aren’t finished, and the common room isn’t finished and the study space isn’t finished — so basically everything besides the room isn’t finished yet,” said Alex Lau, a third year arts student and a Tallwood House resident.

For the interim, students have been given access to laundry facilities in Walter Gage Residence, which is across the street. According to memos sent to the students upon move-in, laundry facilities and other common spaces are expected to be completed by mid-August.

“Fortunately for me, I still have a place outside of Tallwood House to stay at for now. So I haven’t completely moved in yet because it would be really inconvenient for me to do my laundry,” said Lau.

Others were simply surprised by the construction’s timeline.

“I was a little perplexed, given the amount of time that they had to complete it,” said Jason Adle, another resident and a second year geography student . “I mean, I understand that, yes, projects take time, but I’m not entirely sure why they weren’t able to excel through that — especially given that it’s the summer time.”

Residence construction delays on campus have not been atypical. For instance, Ponderosa was also subject to delays when it opened in 2013.

However, Andrew Parr, the managing director of student hospitality and housing services, acknowledged that the Tallwood House’s delays are particularly frustrating.

“There was a commitment to have this building complete and occupiable by the end of May, and we decided not to initiate contracts with students until the beginning of August,” said Parr. “So we gave ourselves a two month buffer and I’m glad we did because we needed every day of that and still didn’t have it quite fully ready for students arrival.”

Still, both Adle and Lau indicated that they did not received any information about the building’s incomplete status until they arrived on move-in day. Coupled with the lack of certain amenities, they questioned the full rent status.

“The fact that we weren’t given any notice towards the fact that the building’s not complete is definitely really a huge problem and I think maybe they shouldn’t have charged us the full rent because the building isn’t complete yet,” said Lau.

In 2013, when Ponderosa was facing construction delays, students petitioned to be compensated for poor living conditions. They were not granted any compensation at the time.

Tallwood House residents will also not be receiving any compensation for their incomplete building.

“Yes, they are [paying full rent]. They don’t have access to some specific spaces, but they have access to their space,” said Parr.

“I think the key message is that while it’s disappointing to have some outstanding components of this building, it really is quite a special and unique building. We’re really pleased with the building, [and] as students are, we’re equally frustrated with not having it in perfect condition for their arrival. But we’re also confident that it will be done for the arrival of more than half the students that are living with us [in September].”