Newly rezoned university land primed for development

Housing developments first up, with academic buildings hoping for federal funding

Land behind Old Main is being eyed as the first site of new development on campus under the Campus Master Plan. (Sean Brady/The Omega)

Land behind Old Main is being eyed as the first site of new development on campus under the Campus Master Plan. (Sean Brady/The Omega)

Thompson Rivers University’s application for rezoning has been approved and now the university is one step closer to the next phase of development in the campus master plan – one that includes the development of a university village.

Development of the village will be managed through the TRU Community Trust (TRUCT), a non-profit entity that will submit development proposals to the TRU Board of Governors for approval. Because the province doesn’t allow the sale of university land, TRU will grant the trust leasehold parcels of land with a term of 99 years instead.

The rezoning moves TRU from the city’s post-secondary (P-8) zoning designation to a new designation, a comprehensive development zone (CD-11). This updated zoning will allow TRU to proceed with the development of the most recent iteration of its Campus Master Plan.

According to TRU’s VP Admin and Finance Matt Milovick, who also sits on the TRUCT board, the next step will be to speak with developers and start a competitive process. The TRUCT board’s focus for a first development is a housing development behind Old Main, near the thicket of trees on the North Side.

When asked about parking availability, Milovick said that the new development would consume approximately 120 of TRU’s current parking stalls, but that the parking problem at TRU is generally one of perception.

“We actually have an oversupply of parking, but the problem is the abundance of that parking is in Lot N right behind the residence. People don’t want to walk that far,” Milovick said.

“What you will see as the university develops in the core of the campus, all that parking that’s close to the heart of the campus is going to be lost and you’re going to see parking pushed more to the fringes, and eventually you’ll see the construction of structured parking.”

To ease the pain of less parking, Milovick said he hopes that transit and bike access will both improve and that there’s less focus on the car as things move forward.

On the academic side of things, the university has applied for a portion of the $2 billion in federal funding made available for innovation and sustainable growth at Canadian post-secondary institutions announced in April. The two applications put forward by the university are for the proposed Trades building announced in March and a new nursing building that would go across from the science building. Ground would be broken “probably in January” for the two buildings looking to receive federal funding, if they’re approved.

In terms of development by the trust, Milovick said those on campus will see shovels in the ground sometime in the next eight months to a year.

“Where our campus is situated, it’s some of the last prime buildable lots in the city and if we can build a community around it, densify the campus, and keep people on and using our campus 24/7, it’s going to make for a vibrant university and a more vibrant Kamloops,” Milovick said.