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Capilano University to debut student dorms and dining hall

Residence planned for Dollarton international school site

For the first time in its almost 50 year history, Capilano University will soon be providing student housing, albeit off campus.

CapU’s leadership signed a five-year lease this week to rent the property and buildings at 2420 Dollarton Hwy., a site developed as an international school campus that has been held by various owners since the 1980s.

The intent is to help alleviate the affordability crisis students face and make the school more attractive to domestic and international students.

“We have listened to our students and are taking action to respond to their needs,” stated CapU president Paul Dangerfield in a release. “To date, a significant impediment to the growth of our student population is the lack of accessible, affordable student housing on or near our campus. CapU Residence is our first step towards addressing our students’ appeals for affordable housing.”

The site has three dormitory buildings and a dining hall, which the school is hoping to make available sometime in the 2017/2018 academic year.

Though they haven’t settled on a total unit count yet, CapU spokeswoman Victoria Miles said it will be a combination of single- and dual-occupancy rooms. Marketing material for the site when it was for sale as an international school in 2015 stated it could accommodate 350 students.

Students who live there will have to purchase a meal plan and use the dining hall because there are no individual kitchens.

There is limited parking for rent on the site so most students will have to choose between a 35-minute walk to campus, a 15-minute bike ride and 15-minute bus ride with a connection at Phibbs Exchange.

If demand for the rooms is high, there will likely be a lottery system to see who moves in, Miles said. When that application process is set up, it will be posted online, she added. Monthly rents should cover the operating costs, Miles said, and may eventually provide revenue for the university.

“The community should know that affordability is a top priority in the design of what the offering is,” she said.

Noah Berson, vice-president external for the Capilano Students’ Union, said the units are sorely needed.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “We advocate trying to make education more affordable and a really essential part of making education more affordable is having housing that’s realistic for students to afford within a reasonable distance of Cap.”

Berson spends almost three hours in transit every day getting to and from Cap from his home in Vancouver. He’s also known other students who couch surf or live in their car to get by.

“I’m definitely going to try to get myself on the list. I commute quite a ways to school and I know that ta lot of my friends also commute quite a ways.”

The school has received word from the District of North Vancouver that no zoning change is required for the new dorms.

Today, the land is owned by a partnership between Darwin Properties and the Tsleil-Waututh Nation.

Over the long term, the partners intend to redevelop the land as a new home for the North Shore Winter Club but Darwin president Oliver Webbe, a Capilano University grad, said he hopes to build more purpose-built student housing as part of a new business park on the adjacent lot.

“I believe that CapU is one of our most valuable assets on the North Shore that the business community needs to support it.

“The tremendous lack of rental housing is putting pressure on many North Shore families so I am pleased to be part of a solution for students trying to find housing on the North Shore,” he wrote in an email.