St. Thomas University Vanier Hall residence renovations are still in the works after almost two years. The plan was to have the residence open for students to move in last month, but COVID-19 and delayed products pushed back renovations.
During this time, students who applied to live in Vanier Hall were placed in Holy Cross House or Rigby Hall.
Vanier Hall used to be the all-female residence on campus, but this year, Holy Cross was supposed to be the all-female residence while Vanier would be mixed. Because of the delayed opening of Vanier, Holy Cross had to take on some male students. Brock Richardson, director of student services and residence life at STU, said they were still able to provide some separation within Holy Cross.
“For this year, it is not mixed,” said Richardson. “People who want to be all-female are on the side with only female students in that wing, and the other side has one floor of male and one floor of female, so there is still that separation.”
Although the interest for all-female dorms was not very high, the university still felt it was essential to have an all-female dorm for those who wanted that option.
For STU to make this work, some changes were made.
“Based on the demand and the people applying and choosing, it could not be in Vanier because it is our biggest residence. We just wouldn’t have the interest in that if it was an all-female option,” said Richardson.
The number of applications for Holy Cross worked out for the size of the residence, he said.
Richardson could not comment on a new opening date for Vanier Hall but said the product is starting to come in and he is hopeful it will be done soon.
“Some of the products we need in order to finish the project have been delayed, and that’s the issue we are facing and it’s frustrating, but it’s an issue that is beyond our control,” he said.
Richardson said while the residences are not full, they are at a safe capacity for COVID-19.
There are 325 students in STU residence this year, compared to only 70 last year.
STU sold Chatham Hall and Rigby Hall back in July 2018, due to residence demand decreasing.
“This is mostly due to the demographics in Atlantic Canada, so it made sense to no longer have those buildings,” said Richardson.
STU continues to lease Rigby Hall this year for students until Vanier Hall renovations are complete.
“This is a significant renovation, and we know that the end product is going to be really nice.”