On March 7th 2015, 80 graduate and student families received letters stating that their home – the Louis Riel building on SFU’s Burnaby campus – was slated for demolition in the coming year. With only a few months to find alternate housing and no comparable units available on campus, these students suddenly found their academic goals at serious odds with their housing needs. Fortunately, several months of dedicated organizing paid off: the residents of Louis Riel won the support of SFU faculty and students and received a settlement from SFU. However, a great deal of work remains to be done to ensure that there are opportunities for low-income students and students with children at SFU in the future.
SFU has no immediate plan to replace the 210 units that were lost with the closure of Louis Riel. According to the University’s Residence and Housing Master Plan 2015 – 2035, apartment-style housing for “non-traditional age students and graduate students” is low-priority and will not be available until 2028 at the earliest (page 56). In fact, Louis Riel is slated to be replaced with new residence hall for first year and international students, not graduate housing. In the mean time, students must balance teaching, research, and family commitments with the stress of finding affordable housing in the midst of province-wide housing crisis.
The University faces very real funding challenges – but what could it do differently? How might students, universities, governments, and community partners work together to address the pressures of the housing crisis, and to ensure that SFU remains a diverse, vibrant and equitable place to learn?
We invite you to bring your ideas to the 2016 Graduate Housing Forum, taking place at 4:30 pm on December 1 in the GSS Lounge (2212). This event is limited to 80 people, so please click here to RSVP.
Jeff Derksen, Associate Dean, Students, SFU
Jeff Derksen works on issues of culture, space and politics. He currently works on urbanism and globalization (with a focus on gentrification and the transformation of cities) in the long neoliberal moment. Outside of the university, he collaborates in the research collective Urban Subjects. He works in the English Department and is Assoc. Dean of Graduate Studies – Students.
Dale Mikkelsen, Director, Development SFU Community Trust
Dale is the director of development for the UniverCity Project at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby Mountain campus. The UniverCity community is being developed around “Four Cornerstones of Sustainability”, including Environment, Equity, Education, and Economy.
Mikkelsen and the Trust’s team are making significant and innovative contributions toward the demonstration of innovative and incremental standards that result in a highly livable and low carbon community. Mikkelsen is charged with raising the bar of sustainable community planning to ensure UniverCity remains on the leading edge of energy efficiency, material conservation, healthy environments and community building.
Prior to working with SFU Community Trust, Mikkelsen was the lead project planner for the City of Vancouver’s 2010 Athlete’s Village. He also acted as the City’s Green Building Planner. Dale served as a board member for the International Living Future Institute for 9 years and is helping UniverCity to create Canada’s first Living Building. Mikkelsen is also leading the design and implementation of one of Canada’s largest neighbourhood energy utilities reducing GHG’s on Burnaby Mountain by as much as 85% within 3 years. Dale currently co-chairs the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s Design Panel.
Mikkelsen has a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of British Columbia and has completed the Passive House Certification program. Dale is a father of 2 wonderful children, and tries to live an active and sustainable lifestyle as a model for his children.
Lama Mugabo, The Carnegie Community Action Project