Referendum 2017

BCIT Students Say “YES!” To New Student Building

The ballots have been counted, and the results are in.  After months of consultations and a spirited referendum campaign, BCIT students voted decisively in favour of proceeding with plans to build a new Student Centre.  Of 2,126 students who voted, 55% voted in favour of the new building.

The Student Association will now commence formal discussions with BCIT to determine how best to integrate this proposal into the Campus Development Plan.  This will be followed by further consultations with students to shape the final design of the building before construction begins.

“It is the role of the Student Association to advocate for the needs of all BCIT students,” said BCITSA President Matthew May.  “No matter how any individual voted, I want to assure all students that as we proceed with this project, we will always keep our responsibility as good stewards of student money at the forefront of our thinking.  This building will ultimately go a long way towards fulfilling our mission to enhance student life.”





Highlights and History




2001 — Health & Dental Plan

When BCIT students voted YES for dependable, affordable health and dental coverage, the SA introduced a plan designed to meet your unique needs.


2010 — Student Lounges

When students voted YES to more space on campus where they can study and hold group meetings, the SA built more study rooms and worked with the Institute to improve student lounges.


2012 — U-Pass Referendum

When students faced tough decisions about affordable public transportation, the SA facilitated a vote that ultimately led to a YES from the BCIT community. The UPASS remains a pillar of the student experience today.


2014 — Career Services

When students voted YES for more support in career development, the SA built a state-of-the-art Career Centre and hired 6 specialists to develop an extensive offering of 1-on-1 mentorship, networking events, workshops and industry-specific career fairs.


2015 — Entrepreneurial Services

When young entrepreneurs at BCIT asked for more support in their endeavours, students voted YES to Entrepreneurial Services. The SA has since introduced a comprehensive support program that includes mentorship, networking, workshops, speaking events and resources aimed at helping young entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level.


2015 — Campus Pub Renovation

When students voted YES to updating their beloved campus pub to something more modern and inviting, the SA went to work designing a new space for a new era. Habitat is now a refreshing environment on campus that students can be proud of, and is still the best place to gather, eat and celebrate student life at BCIT.

The Building You Want

You shared some pretty amazing ideas in the student survey we sent out. Over 880+ great ideas to be exact. But of them all, 4 main goals were clear:

So How Can We Make it Happen?

Every new project or program the SA commits to is built on a fiscally sound foundation. Student Council put its best minds to work developing a financial structure that allows us to maximize your investment and build the exact type of building you always imagined having on campus.

*All full-time day – Technology refers to all full-time students attending Burnaby Campus, including Computing, Health, Business, Engineering, etc.

For the purposes of the table above, the term Technology is simply used as BCIT is a Technology Institute, but does not mean that full-time students in Technology programs are being assessed a rate that is higher than other full-time programs.

How does this fit with BCIT’s Development Plan?

BCIT is currently engaged in a multi-year Campus Development Planning exercise.  Our Association has been involved in some very preliminary conversations with BCIT on our proposed student centre. BCIT is open to continuing these conversations as the plan unfolds and we want to make sure that our planning integrates with the Campus Development Plan.

As part of the Campus Development Planning exercise, a framework is being developed to maximize flexibility for location, timing and coordination for our building. BCIT is targeting this June for completion of a full draft plan. Currently, BCIT considers that our proposal may be a catalyst project that can bring about a series of positive changes as the campus is being redeveloped.

Our Association wants to continue our discussions with BCIT on location and timing of our proposed building which is why further details will be provided as we move through the planning process.  Though we are in the initial planning phases for our building, we need to start collecting capital funds to pay for the design and construction of the building.  A more refined budget will be established as we move through this process.


Where will the building be placed?

While the exact location of the building is still to be determined, BCIT and the Student Association are working together in partnership to ensure that the building site location is appropriate and fits within the Campus Development Plan. BCIT strongly supports moving forward together on the project and using it as a catalyst project to leverage a number of improvements to the campus as part of their Campus Development Plan. If the Referendum were to pass, the SA would continue discussions with BCIT to determine the most appropriate location on campus.

What will be in the new building?

The exact details of the build are yet to be determined. However, the SA did survey students and received over 880 responses. There will be a Student Space Committee that will use these survey responses to help select what exactly will be included in the building design. The main function of the building will be to serve as a space that is designated for students. The building may include study spaces and group workspaces, food options, and 24/7 access, all combined in a sustainable and aesthetically pleasing building.

When will it be completed?

This project will be quite substantial and there are still many stages which have to be planned and worked through. This referendum marks the beginning of what will likely be a multi-year project. The first step will be to work with BCIT to ensure that this project fits within the overall Campus Development Plan and select a site location. Once this has been decided, the building will have to be designed based on the input from the Student Space Committee and the architects selected for the project. Finally, there will be the actual physical construction of the building. It is very difficult to state a definitive completion date this early in a project of this magnitude. However, rest assured that the SA is working very hard with all of the relevant stakeholders to ensure the most expedient completion possible.

How did you arrive at the proposed fee structure?

In order to build the space that students told us they wanted, we worked closely with a consultant to create a cost structure. Simultaneously, the SA has been working closing with our bank to initiate the financing aspects of this project. The fee was then created to allow us to have enough money for the required down payment, as well as having the appropriate cash flow to service the loan interest payments in a manner that would not overburden students.

If the referendum passes does it mean that it’s just agreeing to add the fee? Numbers can change and plans can change too right?

If the referendum passes, the SA will only be able to collect fees as set out in the proposed fee collection table. We would not be able to collect anything more for the construction of this proposed building without passing an increase in a future referendum. We are very confident that with the fee increase that we’ve asked for, we would be able to meet students’ needs and build a designated student space on campus.  In fact, our preliminary budget has built-in contingencies in case something unexpected happens.

Have we considered fixing up old buildings instead of building a new one?

The intention of this proposed building is to have a space that is designated for students in its entirety, and custom built to meet the needs of students, as determined by the Student Space Committee. Additionally, by offering to construct a new building, it does not put us in the position where we are demanding to take over an existing building.  In fact, given the state of many buildings at BCIT that are in high seismic risk categories, renovating an existing building to make it safe and fit for purpose would likely have a similar cost to constructing a new building. This proposal would be built into the campus plan, and would not take away from the classrooms or other spaces on campus, and would instead compliment these spaces.

Will the fees go back down after the building is complete?

The financing period for the building is substantially longer than the period required for planning and construction. This is done to spread the costs out over a longer period in order to lessen the impact on individual students and to make the project possible. The fee will remain in place for the full financing period of the building.

The SA is a separate and independent entity; does this affect BCIT and their plans?

BCIT is willing to work with us in a collaborative manner to include this building in the Campus Development Plan. This would be an ongoing partnership, with the best interests of students in mind, in a manner that works for all stakeholders.

Food services: what would this look like?

We are still in the early stages of this planning process, so it is way to early to predict what this will look like. We want to offer more food choices to students, and the SA will work with the Institute in a collaborative manner to ensure that happens, however, it is too early for specifics at this point.

What happens to the fees after 2022? Do they disappear?

The Capital Levy fees will increase as per the fee table until 2022. At this point, the fee would be capped and indexed against inflation.

Is this building going to be too nice for BCIT? Do we need it?

The SA is undertaking to create a functional and comfortable building within our means as determined by the budget and fee increase proposed. Students have been telling us for years that more space is needed, which is why your Student Council is putting this to referendum. It’s up to you, the students, to decide whether you need new space, or if existing facilities are fine.

Do satellites have to pay?    

BCIT Students who do not attend at least one course requiring physical attendance at the Burnaby campus in a given period of time will not have to pay any of the additional student fees applicable for that period of time. In short, if you do not physically attend a class on Burnaby campus, you will not have to pay.

Do I get to use the building even if I have graduated from BCIT?

While the intention of this building is to provide space for current students, we will also endeavour to make this space accessible to alumni, as is our practice with our current offerings.

How does this benefit me now?     

The building will take several years to complete; there is simply no way around that. However, you can feel good in that you are supporting an initiative that will enhance the experience of other students down the road. This is your chance to make a very positive and lasting impression for generations to come.

How many people need to vote ‘yes’ to pass the referendum?

We would like as many eligible students to vote as possible. The bylaws stipulate that a majority vote will determine the outcome of the election, provided that we reach quorum.

Why should I say yes to this if I don’t get to use it?

Many of the services and benefits you enjoy today, such as the U-Pass, Health & Dental Plan, and Career and Entrepreneurial Services, were supported by previous BCIT students in earlier referendums. If it weren’t for these students voting in referendums, the SA would not be able to offer these services today. This is your opportunity to make a positive impact on future BCIT students, and to build a legacy.

If we’re having a referendum, students can vote ‘no’. What happens if this is the case?

If there is a ‘no’ vote, the SA will continue to offer the existing services that we presently do, and nothing will change in that regard. However, there would not be a new building constructed for students, unless the Institute were to undertake this project, which will  likely not happen in the near future. The Institute is supportive of this initiative as it allows for the project to happen on a more immediate timeline and it could fit into the Campus Development Plan, should there be a ‘Yes’ vote for this referendum.

If BCIT is building a new building how do they get funding?

BCIT gets most of its funding through the Provincial Government, but they also receive funding from the Federal Government and private sources. Typically these funds are allocated to develop learning spaces such as classrooms, or the recently announced Health Sciences Centre for Advanced Simulation, rather than for the type of space we wish to build for students. This leaves a perfect opportunity for the SA and students to step in and make this dream a reality!

How do I vote?

Voting for the Referendum will be done through The voting period will be:

Start: Thursday, April 6, 2017 at 9:00am
End: Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 12:00pm (noon)

So What’s Next?

Over the course of the next few weeks, members of student council will be out on campus  asking for your support in this referendum. Don’t be shy, share your feedback, ask the right questions, and get involved in bringing this idea to life. On April 6, voting opens on you’re dashboard. This is your opportunity to get behind a project that students have been vocal about for years, and is closer than ever to becoming a reality.