Future of the building to be decided by university administration
The University of Ottawa’s Brooks residence closed its doors this September just as the school year began.
Students were living in the apartment-style building, which dates back to 1987, up until Aug. 27 of this year. In February, a notice of the building’s closure for the 2018-19 school year was sent to Brooks residents, and was issued in the Gazette. However, plans for closure of the building date back to the 2013-14 campus master plan.
Director of the U of O’s Housing Service, Rachelle Clark, said the campus master plan identified the building as more suited for academic or mixed-use space from a study conducted from 2013 to 2014.
“Prime space is at the center of campus so we have to be very strategic in how we use that space, and in some cases that may mean going higher up as opposed to taking up a larger footprint,” she said.
The campus master plan states, “buildings, which include the UCU, Montpetit, MacDonald, the Brooks Residence, the Physical Resources office building and many of the houses on King Edward, are either deficient for their intended use, have significant physical issues or prevent more substantial development on their site.” It also recommends demolition over renewal for the buildings in question.
Brooks residence was one of four apartment-style residence buildings offered through the university, and is located on campus at King Edward Avenue and Osgoode Street.
“The majority of our student population are first-years and apartment-style is not as enticing for first-year students.” Clark added that Brooks isn’t always the first choice with students because of its age and absence of common areas.
“Housing services had done a survey and significant consultation with students and parents a number of years ago to identify what they’re looking for in residences, and definitely what we’re hearing is the 90U version—so it’s more privates, bigger space, private bathrooms,” she said.
A 12 month stay at Brooks cost approximately $11,600 and the building could house over 700 students. Average housing costs at the University of Ottawa range from $6,401 at Stanton for a double room to $18,377 at Annex for a studio apartment.
With the loss of over 700 beds, student housing remains in high demand at the university.
This September, a new residence called Annex opened, which can house about 500 students. Additionally, single occupancy rooms at other residences have been converted into double occupancy rooms. Staff office spaces at Thompson and 90U were also made into housing units to make room for incoming students.
The future of the Brooks building will be decided by the university administration over the next few months, said Clark.