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Province pays $18.5 million to buy hotel for homeless

The province has purchased the hotel to house homeless people who have been staying at two tent cities in Victoria
Comfort Inn and Suites

The B.C. government has bought the Comfort Inn and Suites in Victoria for $18.5 million to provide temporary shelter for 65 people living in homeless camps at Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue in the capital city.

The purchase price is about $4.4 million above the 2020 BC Assessed value for the 151-room hotel, which is located at 3020 Blanshard Street. The property was assessed at $14.17 million as of July of last year.

The high purchase price is considered an anomaly in the current market, which has seen about 60 per cent of hotels close down across the province during the pandemic.

“The traditional market [for hotel investments] has dried up,” said Carrie Russell, senior managing partner of hotel consultancy HVS International, of North Vancouver. “There are virtually no transactions in B.C.”

She noted that the assessed real estate value of a hotel property can be misleading because it does not include furnishings, appliances and other amenities.

The long-term plan is to use the site for affordable housing after consulting with the community.

“Everyone deserves to have safe, stable housing they can afford, and this site offers great potential to deliver a mix of permanent housing to meet the needs of people in Victoria,” Selina Robinson, minister of municipal affairs and housing, said in a news release.

B.C. Housing will partner with Our Place to run the building. It will begin receiving residents in the coming days.

Homeless applicants will receive meals, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, and storage for personal belongings.