Coast Mountain College’s (CMTN) Terrace campus celebrated the official opening of its new residence building called Wii Gyemsiga Siwilaawksat, meaning “where learners are content or comfortable,” on Oct. 14.
Advanced education and skills training minister Anne Kang was in attendance alongside interim college president Laurie Waye and college board chair Nicole Halbauer.
“People in Terrace know the importance of investing in housing,” Kang said.
“These spaces are for students to feel grounded and connected to each other as they explore new ideas, new interests and share big ideas, this building is more than a place to sleep.”
The three-storey building is made up of modular student housing units being grouped around a purpose-built central atrium.
The 108 beds, with two guest suites, are an increase over the 71 student rooms in existing residence buildings now four decades old and no longer considered adequate. Some of those buildings have since been demolished and others converted into offices.
The new project features a bevy of Indigenous art created by alumni and students of CMTN’s Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art.
According to Waye, around half of the beds are currently occupied by students due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We wanted to be cautious when welcoming students to the new building, partly because we were unsure of how COVID would unfold this fall and we wanted to be able to provide that truly safe space by spacing out students appropriately,” she said, adding that the college hopes to add more students in January if the pandemic situation allows for it.
The design of the building was informed by the college’s First Nation’s Council, students and staff. Aside from student dormitories, the residence building contains an elder suite, two shared kitchens, two collaboration areas, bike storage, a cultural room with ventilation for burning sage, a computer lab and even an e-sports room.
The student housing project cost $21.6-million with the province contributing the lion’s share at $20.6-million and the college adding the remaining $1-million. Of that total, $6.3-million was spent in Alberta on the modular units.
Work had been hindered in the spring, because 11 of 15 modular units in the south wing of the structure suffered varying degrees of water damage leading up to assembly. That damage did not impact the final cost of the project, which was ready to welcome students at the start of the academic year.
The housing project is the largest component of a series of capital projects now underway at the campus which together have a price tag of $35-million.
The Spruce building library, called Waap Sa’mn, was reopened last week after $4.4-million in renovations after an overflowing toilet flooded the space in 2018.
— With files from Rod Link