University of Waterloo officials are projecting an increase in the need for off-campus student housing in Stratford.
At an information session, held March 3, which included some 75 landlords, realtors, renters, and students, several speakers outlined the necessary steps that Stratford will need to take in order to absorb this expected student population jump.
Ginny Dybenko, University of Waterloo Stratford campus executive director, predicted that starting in September approximately 55 students will need housing in Stratford. In 2015, that number is expected to go up to around 140, and is likely to increase from there.
The Stratford campus is home to the global business and digital arts program and also offers a master of digital experience innovation program. There is no on-campus housing available for Stratford-based UW students.
Stratford has seen an increase in its student population in recent years. The town is not only home to a UW campus but also a Conestoga College campus and Stratford Chefs School. Stratford Chefs School does not offer accommodations to its 70 students, nor does Conestoga College.
Despite its growing post-secondary student population, Stratford does not currently have anything in their official plan about student housing. However officials say that the document, which is currently being updated, will soon include some student housing related provisions.
Stratford currently does not have a licensing system for student housing, nor are there any current intentions to establish one. Instead, the city plans to rely on the current zoning bylaws to manage the anticipated increase in the need for student housing.
Based on Waterloo numbers, the average student pays approximately $500 a month for off-campus housing, however this number varies greatly depending on whether or not utilities are included, or the unit is furnished.
As Stratford does not currently have any housing units built specifically for students, a student would be paying for a full sized apartment.
In Stratford, one bedroom apartments are fairly easy to find, prices range from $400-$1000, and average out around $750 per month.
At the information session, Dybenko answered questions regarding the St. Patrick Street campus. Though she allowed for the campus’s possible growth in the future, Dybenko stated that there are no current plans to build student residences on the campus.
UW’s pharmacy campus in Kitchener and architecture campus in Cambridge do not offer residences either.
She added that the university hopes property developers will take advantage of the lack of off-campus housing in Stratford and build multi-unit housing targeted at students.
No current plans to provide these accommodations have been made public by the city or developers.