Moving forward with university village plan

New development pledges more housing and 24/7 vitality on campus

President Alan Shaver presents information on the upcoming “university village” development. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

President Alan Shaver presents information on the upcoming “university village” development. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Thompson Rivers University has presented new details about how densification and development of the TRU campus will proceed in the years to come. The new announcement focused on the development of a “university village,” a mixed residential and commercial development on campus that administration compared to SFU’s UniverCity.

“I lived for six months in residence when I first came here and it became clear to me that the campus was really vital and friendly during classes, but after hours and on the weekends it’s an empty place,” said TRU President Alan Shaver.

Shaver went on to say that the new project’s goal is to make the campus inviting and livable 24/7, providing access to food and other services for students as well as generating revenue.

The plan focuses on the development of market housing such as apartments or condos on campus, but grocery stores, restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities have also been approved.

TRU has been directly planning the development since 2013, but it fits into a master plan that dates back to the mid ‘90s Shaver said. The plan is to create a campus that includes the broader community.

“The development isn’t specifically being built for students or faculty, it is being built for everyone. The financial benefits of the development will benefit the TRU community directly,” said TRU VP Finance Matt Milovick.

When asked if the on-campus housing would be rent-controlled to avoid pricing out students, Milovick said “It is our expectation that developments will include all types of housing options, including student residences over time. For privately-owned accommodations that are sublet, the market drives pricing.”

The plan contains cohesive design guidelines to ensure a consistent look and feel throughout campus Milovick said.

According to Milovick, the transportation survey and sustainability study that went along with the development planning concluded that both better transit service and accessibility for cyclists need to be developed but that no new parking would be added on campus for at least 20 years.

Milovick said that surveying the campus in preparation for new construction is already underway and rezoning applications would begin shortly. Development is planned to begin within the next 18 months Milovick said.

Asked how Aramark’s food service contract will fit into the new developments, Milovick said that TRU will specifically exclude lands leased to the trust from any new contract or renewal.

Property on the corner of Summit and McGill will be developed first because it is flat and already has utilities running to it said TRU Community Trust CEO Finlay Sinclair.

“We’re at the point now where we’re getting tremendous support to move forward with this,” Shaver said.

Other features of the Campus Master Plan discussed at the announcement include the construction of an additional 300,000 square feet of academic space to address growth over the next 15 years and the eventual demolition and replacement of the Clock Tower and the Main Library.

Last updated March 15, 2016, 2:52 p.m.