Former SCITS building to accommodate international students

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The developer who owns the former Sarnia Collegiate Institute and Technical School property in Sarnia says he is rushing to have part of the Wellington Street building ready by September to accommodate international students who attend Lambton College.

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The city council on June 27 approved planning changes for the property, allowing it to be used for student dormitories, a private secondary school, a day care center and small-scale commercial use.

Toronto-area developer Rakesh Gupta, who bought the old school in 2021, said Thursday he had applied for planning permission to make “minor alterations,” including adding extra showers, to that the building can be ready to welcome international students. for the next school year.

“As we get the building permit, we will finish those little things that we need,” he said.

“There are a lot of students expected there” in “September from Lambton College.” Their need is very urgent.

Gupta said he plans to prepare the site for up to 230 students.

“We use 40 to 45 classrooms to turn them into dormitories,” he said. “We’re adding a few more showers and then we’re going to use the cafeteria for the meal plan.”

The old SCITS High School building in Sarnia.

The gym and library will also be accessible to students living on site, he said.

“We think it will be a very good experience for international students to stay here.”

A consultant’s report submitted with the planning applications indicates that a swimming pool in the basement of the building will be removed as it is not accessible and does not meet modern standards.

Gupta said he was approached by the college about the possibility of housing students.

“We do our best to align contractors, materials,” he said.

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“This will be the initial use” of the building, Gupta said.

“There are still many more spaces that will be available for use.”

He said he was in the “early stages of our exploration” of a proposal to open a private boarding school for high school students, including international students.

“It’s very fitting for that,” Gupta said of the building, which was a public high school from 1922 to 2019.

“We’re just looking at the other aspects of a private boarding school, in terms of how it operates and how it recruits, enrolls students from different countries,” he said.

“This is one of the possible projects that we want to execute.”

Setting up a daycare center on the site is also “a good possibility,” Gupta said.

“We are trying to sort everything out but we are making gradual progress.”

He added: “Right now our focus is on Lambton College” and the need for student accommodation.

“Time is very short.”

Gupta said he also purchased the former Walker Brothers building on Mitton Street near the SCITS site for residential and commercial use.

He said he’s spoken with neighbors and “most of them are very happy we’re doing this.”

“There will be activity and life in the buildings,” Gupta said.

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