February 2, 2015 11:32 pm
Updated: August 6, 2016 2:07 pm

Luxury downtown hotel to become dorm for international students

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WATCH: The 17-story Viva hotel in downtown Vancouver has been purchased by an education corporation — and will be turned into student housing. The idea of luxury dorms might sound strange, but Jennifer Palma explains why the company believes it’s worth the expense.

A necessity for affordable Vancouver housing breeds all sorts of creative solutions.

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CIBT Education Group, which owns Sprott Shaw College and operates many other business, technical and language colleges, has bought a downtown Vancouver hotel with the intent of transforming it into affordable housing for international students.

“On a homestay basis, living in a basement would be about $800, but living here would be $900 to $1000,” says Toby Chu, President of CIBT. He says the need to guarantee affordable housing for international students is becoming more and more critical.

They 17-storey Viva Suites hotel at Drake and Howe will hold 220 beds for post-secondary and high school-aged international students come September. It’s one of nine different locations CIBT is hoping to turn into beds for 5,000 students.

International students are a growing demographic in British Columbia, with 112,800 attending K-12 and post-secondary schools in 2012-2013. The Vancouver School Board are among those who say the students not only increase the province’s diversity, but also provide stability to their budgets.

“$15 million of gross revenue is important, given that we have a budgetary deficit that we’re going to be struggling with,” admits Christopher Richardson, Vancouver School Board Chair.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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