Ground was broken on a $19 million dual-purpose, solar-powered student residence at Red Deer College on Thursday.
In the short-term, the innovative, 145-suite facility will become an athletes’ village when thousands of people from across the nation arrive in Red Deer from Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019 for the Canada Winter Games.
Once the Games are over, the new residence will provide more affordable, on-campus housing units for RDC students — which are badly needed.
During a public announcement that included Alberta’s Advanced Education minister, student Marian Young recalled trying to get on-site housing — only to find out her name was on a waiting list of 600 students.
Young, who’s now vice-president of operations for the RDC Students’ Association, said “I’m happy the ground-breaking is happening during my time at Red Deer College” — even though the new residence comes too late for her to use.
When completed by late 2018 or January 2019, the new residence will boost the on-site RDC student bed count to 671.
Lyn Radford, chair of Red Deer’s Canada Winter Games Committee, spoke about her excitement that another critical piece of the 2019 Canada Winter Games puzzle is falling into place.
“I would like to thank everybody for buying into a vision,” said Radford, who mentioned that RDC plays a “crucial role” by hosting five sports competitions and helping house some athletes. The college previously opened the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre sports complex.
Eleven companies and contractors have been working in partnership over five years on the student residence project, said RDC president Joel Ward, who believes the new building will further position the college for future designation as a polytechnic university.
The province’s decision on this is expected before the end of the year.
The alternative energy design of the residence will include solar panels on three sides of the building to reduce the carbon footprint and bring electricity costs down for the college.
Each studio unit is designed for one student, (six units are accessible for disabled students). Each unit has an extra pull-down murphy bed so student capacity can be doubled during RDC’s residential summer programs, said Jim Brinkhurst, vice-president of college services.
The building also features “collaborative and gathering places,” where students can meet and study.
Alberta Advanced Education is loaning RDC money for the construction costs, which will be paid back from student rents. Minister Marlin Schmidt said having more affordable student housing will make education more accessible to Central Albertans.