Consultation for Totem Park Phase 2 begins

Student Housing has begun working on a new project to expand the first-year Totem Park Residence area. The upcoming six-story building, currently named Totem Park Residence Infill Phase 2, is expected to hold 350 beds and is one of five student residence development projects that UBC is working on.

Andrew Parr, Managing Director of Student Housing & Hospitality Services (SHHS), hopes this incoming flow of on-campus residences in the next year or two will alleviate the rising demand for student housing.

“Our history right now is that the more we build, the more the demand builds as well,” said Parr. “So despite the growth that we’ve seen and the growth we have planned, we haven’t yet seen a decline in the waitlist numbers. In fact, we’ve seen an increase in our waitlist numbers. That said, we’re on a much more aggressive track right now than we have been.”

Much like the older and recently updated houses in Totem, the new infill will be built as a traditional house with a shared bathroom and lounge on each floor hall, as well as a communal house lounge. 

As a traditional house, the new facility will look less like the houses in Totem Park and more like the Tec de Monterrey and Korea-UBC houses in the Place Vanier Residence area.

According to Parr, SHHS consulted with the Residence Hall Association (RHA) on the best design structure for maximal community engagement.

“We began some conversations with the RHA about this and the RHA came back with some interesting ideas about this greater community engagement and community creation in the traditional houses where there’s a shared bathroom down the hall [rather] than in the modified traditional [residences] where once you go into your bedroom, you can just stay there,” said Parr.

Crystal Sipila, President of the RHA, along with other Residence Advisors and RHA members, have been giving Student Housing their input on the structure of the building and the common spaces.

“[SHHS] had brought in people that had lived in both so mostly RAs and RHA members that had lived in both types of residence areas,” said Sipila. “They, at that point, decided to go with the traditional style residence area and then there was another consultation session … we had basic models and we got to play around and say where we saw different common spaces could be located.”

There are also areas being sacrificed for the sake of the Totem Phase 2 construction. According to Parr, the expansion is taking place on the existing tennis courts in Totem Park near the Haida and Salish houses.

“We are removing four hard surface recreational areas … and they’re used quite a bit,” said Parr. “We haven’t quite worked out the details, [but] we’re working with students on that. One of the important messages is that we recognize that we are giving up some recreational space and we will be building back recreational space in lieu of that, but it will be a phased kind of thing.”

There will be a public consultation on the developing project on Thursday, October 22 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the foyer of the Coquihalla Commons Block. There will be RHA and SHHS representatives to speak to the public about Totem Phase 2.