Metro Newspaper: Hotel to be converted into international student housing

February 3, 2015

Renovation. Units will rent for about $1,000 to $1,100 per month

It’s hard enough for Vancouverites to find apartments to rent, let alone for international students who must secure a place from afar before arriving in Canada.

To make it easier for the growing number of international students flocking to study in the city, the CIBT Education Group bought the 17-storey Viva Suites hotel at Drake and Howe to provide more than 200 beds

The company owns Sprott Shaw College and the Ascenda School of Management and partners with more than 100 other educational institutions that are tasked with helping students find home stays or apartments.

“We are facing some significant challenges placing students into affordable yet comfortable and secure environments,” CEO Toby Chu said Monday.

The problem became especially pronounced after the federal government opened the floodgates for international students last year, Chu said, adding there’s an estimated 112,000 international students in the Lower Mainland.

It made sense to invest $37 million to convert the longrange business hotel into a space for students, considering the decreased demand for lengthy business trips, the city’s miniscule rental vacancy rate and the massive wait list for dorms at the University of British Columbia, he said.

Units are between 400 and 800 square feet and will rent for about $1,000 to $1,100 per month. The company will convert some larger single rooms into two bedrooms to allow for roommates but does not need to change the building’s zoning. Emily Jackson/Metro

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