Andrew Parr

Andrew Parr, Managing Director, UBC Student Housing and Hospitality Services

The start of the academic year is always an exciting time at UBC, particularly for the new and returning students arriving on campus—but, of course, also for staff and faculty.

For all of us in SHHS, more than a “return to campus,” this period is a transition from our increasingly busy summer season – with hotel and hostel bookings, conferences, groups, and weddings – back to peak operation for SHHS as a whole.

Thank you for your part in helping kick off the 2019-20 academic year and making our campus feel like home for thousands of students, staff, faculty, families and community members. No matter what role you play, your work makes a big difference to their UBC experience.

Now that we’re settling into the routine of the fall term, I’d like to share with you some of the projects and initiatives that fill my days, including Exchange residence, news from Child Care Services, UBC Okanagan Food Services, and more!

Exchange Residence Opening

I am so pleased and proud of this new home to 651 student residents. Every detail of the design of Exchange Residence was done with innovation and student success in mind, including:

  • the residential areas, the diverse and well laid out unit mix – most notably the innovative and well-received 71 Nano suites.
  • the social spaces, the welcoming lobby area, the fitness and games rooms, music practice rooms and quiet study spaces.
  • The two collegia – which ensure that every first-year student has the opportunity to either live in residence or be a member of the collegia program, enhancing the experience of every first-year student.
  • The beautiful terrace and innovative integration of the building with UBC Bus Exchange.

All these physical spaces were thoughtfully-designed to allow for the creation of a strong community and positive learning outcomes for all the students who reside here.

Learn more about Exchange Residence on the Student Housing website, and check out some photos from the Exchange Opening Ceremony.

Child Care Expansion (V&O)

UBC Vancouver

Last November we received UBC Executive approval to add 3 new child care centres to create roughly 100 new child care spaces in a full range of age groups. Just 10 months later, using modular construction methods, UBC Child Care Services opened the first of these new centres, with the second and third opening later this fall.

Additionally, thanks to Darcelle Cottons’ amazing leadership, we applied for and received three $1 million provincial government grants, which are covering 65% of the total project cost. My immense thanks and congratulations to Darcelle and her team of Early Childhood Educators.

Learn more at the BC Government News website.

UBC Okanagan

Currently, there is just one independently-operated child care centre on the Okanagan campus. However, with waitlist numbers growing – and wait times increasing – there is a desire to add more spaces. SHHS is working closely with UBCO colleagues to complete a Needs Analysis and Demand Study. Simultaneously, we will be applying for another government grant to support the creation of one new centre in the next year or so.

UBCO Food Services transition

An in-house food service operation, UBC Okanagan Food Services, was a dream hatched about 6 years ago – and it was arguably one of the most complex and challenging projects we have undertaken, transitioning from one business model to another while maintaining a continuum of service throughout the process. This past summer, that’s exactly what the UBCO Food Services Transition Team did.

The team shifted away from the long-standing contractor-based operation over to a new, fresh, progressive – and vastly enhanced – in-house delivery model. The improvements are extreme and have already been recognized by the UBCO campus community. My immense thanks to the Transition Team, most notably the “on-the-ground” team led by Shannon Dunn, Gary Hartung and Shelley Robinson, along with members of UBCV Food Services, SHHS Communications and Marketing, IT, Finance and Procurement.

Well-being and food insecurity

These are important pillars of the UBC Strategic Plan and UBC Wellbeing Strategic Framework.

Food insecurity is a particularly important topic right now and SHHS, largely via Food Services, plays a key role in supporting UBC’s goals to reduce the prevalence of food insecurity on our campuses. For more information visit

Growth and Business Development

Exchange Residence and new child care centres opened last month…so what’s next?

  • Pacific Residence recently received Board 3 approval, and construction will commence in October. This project will open in late 2021, adding 940 beds, a new Commonsblock, a Tim Hortons and summer hotel inventory.
  • Additionally, Brock Commons Phase 2 received Board 2 approval; Board 3 is slated for spring 2020, with construction commencing shortly thereafter. This project will add another 600 beds along with a new Commonsblock, food outlet and a variety of academic and student service spaces.
  • Skeena Residence is currently under construction on the UBC Okanagan campus and will add 220 modified traditional (or connected single) bed spaces primarily for first year students. Skeena is scheduled to open in summer 2020.
  • Nechako Housing Commons will add 220 modified traditional bed spaces and a full-service Commonsblock (to serve all 2,120 UBCO student residents), which will include a 500-seat dining room.
  • With a waitlist of over 6000 students on the Vancouver campus, we continue to look forward to and work towards new growth opportunities beyond these projects.

Budget season is upon us!

While it may not sound like too much fun, budget season is an important annual process that establishes financial targets for all our units and also helps us establish a game plan for key initiatives like infrastructure growth, service enhancements, human resource needs, renovations, upgrades, replacement equipment, new IT systems, and workplace experience enhancements.

In other words, budget season helps us build a plan and set goals to make us even better at what we do – with goals set for the next fiscal year and over the next 5 years.

Thanks for taking some time to read about the projects that I dedicate my time to each day. It’s a pleasure to spend time working on projects that translate into an enhanced campus experience for the students, staff, faculty, visitors and the wider UBC community.

“Smile…it’s contagious!”

Andrew Parr
Managing Director
Student Housing and Hospitality Services
The University of British Columbia