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University of Victoria to redevelop Ian Stewart Complex into housing

The Ian Stewart Complex is shown. Jan. 26, 2023 (CTV News) The Ian Stewart Complex is shown. Jan. 26, 2023 (CTV News)
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The University of Victoria plans to build a mixed-use housing and commercial development on the site of its aging Ian Stewart Complex.

The school said the complex is reaching its end of life and the project is in response to the regional housing shortage.

"We completed an employee housing survey in the fall of this year," said Mike Wilson, UVic director of campus planning and sustainability.

"What that told us was that rent, as well as mortgage payments, are rising really quite rapidly in the region as we all know," he said. "We want to be able to provide housing that is a really close walk or cycle to the campus and that's able to attract new faculty and staff to the university."

The complex, located at 3964 Gordon Head Rd., was the school's primary recreation centre up until 2015 when the Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) opened on campus.

The ice rink surface at the Ian Stewart Complex remains in use, as do several office spaces.

With limited ice space available in the region, the school has given users until 2026 to find a new home before it closes the doors for good.

"We recognize that ice time is at a real premium," said Wilson.

"But certainly we also understand that from the broader community there is a strong desire for housing," he said.

Wilson said the proposed development is made of about nine acres of land, including part of a parcel across the street from the Gordon Head Road facility.

The redevelopment locations are pictured. (UVic)

The project is in its very early stages, the school says, and it plans to engage the community to gather feedback on what direction to take the development.

Standing in front of the complex Thursday, Wilson said whether the housing units will be sold or rented is just one of the many decision yet to be determined.

What the school does know is that the plan is to support the whole community.

"We’re looking at partnership opportunities with the provincial government, among others, but really looking at a mix of units in order to support the community," said Wilson.

Saanich Mayor Dean Murdcok says the new development represents a "fairly significant step forward in terms of creating housing."

"I‘m committed, and I think the university is committed, to ensuring that we can create homes for people of all incomes and all stages of life and utilizing this property is a great opportunity to do that," he said.

Wilson said the housing development will be a new model for the school, but that similar projects have been completed successfully at other universities in the province.

The new building will provide new sources of revenue to support the university's academic goal, he said.

With the size and scope of the project, Wilson said it’s too early to say when shovels will be in the ground.  

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