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UPDATE: P.E.I. government funding new UPEI residence, construction of affordable housing units

Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy and Finance Minister Heath MacDonald make an affordable housing announcement at the Shaw Building in Charlottetown on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
Family and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy and Finance Minister Heath MacDonald make an affordable housing announcement at the Shaw Building in Charlottetown on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. - Ryan Ross

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - A new year-round residence at UPEI and additional affordable housing units around the province were two of the measures the provincial government announced Thursday to address P.E.I.’s housing crunch.

During a news conference, Finance Minister Heath MacDonald announced 175 housing units and the 260-bed residence at UPEI.

MacDonald said there’s always more work to be done.

“We understand that, but I think we’re heading in the right direction” he said.

With the new UPEI residence, MacDonald said students will be able to live there year-round, unlike the current setup that forces them to leave after the school year ends.

That residence will cost about $25-$30 million with the university covering some of the costs.

MacDonald said students who live in the residence will pay a different rate than those in the university’s other residences.

“It will be a reasonable rate,” he said.

An attempt was made to speak to someone at UPEI about the residence, but a spokeswoman said the university couldn’t provide more details because the agreement with the province still needed to be finalized.

In a message UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz issued to the campus community Thursday about the government’s housing announcement, he said growth in enrolment by international students and those from other parts of Canada has led to increased demand for housing.

The announcement of a new residence was the culmination of a collaboration between UPEI and the provincial government, Abd-El-Aziz said.

“It will help us to accommodate more of our local and off-Island students’ housing needs and also allow more students to experience residence life.”

UPEI student union president Will McGuigan said, as a student who knows there has been a housing crisis in Charlottetown over the last few years, he thinks it’s great to see the province make the investment in the university.

“I’m very happy to see this come forward,” he said.

The provincial government recently said it was on track to exceed its goal of 275 new affordable housing units in P.E.I. in 2018.

MacDonald and Human Services Minister Tina Mundy announced Thursday funding for a further 175 affordable housing units across P.E.I. 

Of those, 100 will be allocated for Charlottetown and the other 75 will go outside of the province’s two cities.

MacDonald said the announced plans, minus the residence, come with a $30-million price tag.

He also announced a Finance P.E.I. loan fund will link the agency with developers who want to build affordable housing units.

Twitter.com/ryanrross

Related: P.E.I. expected to exceed affordable housing goal for 2018

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