Construction begins on new development at TRU

Groundbreaking ceremony marks the start of construction on new multi-family rental

Legacy Square’s groundbreaking was last Friday, June 22. The building is expected to be finished by late 2019. (Left to right) Ron Fawcett, president of Kelson Group, Finlay Sinclair, CEO of TRU Community Trust, elder Estella Patrick Moller of the Nak’azdli First Nation, Brian Ross, TRU Community Trust board chair and Alan Shaver, TRU president. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

A groundbreaking ceremony held on campus at The Reach development on Friday marked the start of construction on the Kelson Group’s new 77 suite building, Legacy Square. The new five-storey multi-family rental will be located on the north side of Old Main.

“We are thrilled to officially break ground on our newest project, Legacy Square,” said Ron Fawcett, president of Kelson Group. “This is a unique partnership for us to be building a project at TRU.”

Kelson Group’s goal is to have the new building welcome its first residents by the fall semester of 2019.

“We will do our best to see if we can be open for the fall semester of 2019,” said Jason Fawcett, Kelson Group’s vice-president of operations. “But that is going to be a very tight schedule so we’re not sure if we’ll be able to meet that. Certainly by the winter of 2020.”

Alongside The Reach’s previous development, Creston House, which broke ground last October, Legacy Square will provide more housing while also making TRU’s campus livelier.

“This project will provide housing on campus, so this campus can be a vibrant place 24/7,” said TRU president Alan Shaver. “The people living on it will be staff, faculty and students. They can also be from and we anticipate, that a lot of members of the community will choose to live on this campus because it is so inviting to be amongst the students and in a learning environment.”

TRU will also be benefitting from the project by receiving $1.8 million as part of a long-term land lease, says Shaver. This money will go to support student bursaries, scholarships and research activities.

Though the development of Legacy Square will help TRU expedite the fulfilment of its campus master plan, Jason Fawcett admits that Kelson Group didn’t immediately jump on the idea when The Reach was first announced back in 2016.

“When The Reach and the TRU Community Trust planned to develop properties and create a community, it was something that we didn’t initially jump right on. We’ve been busy with lots of other projects going on and then we had an invite in the spring of 2017 that my father and I attended,” Fawcett said. “We quickly saw the views and the site, close to the centre of campus and we saw what we could potentially do here.”

Fawcett added that because of Kelson Group’s tight construction schedule with other projects in the city and a current shortage of tradespeople in Kamloops, the local real-estate and development community has been struggling.

“It is busy at TRU and it is busy throughout Kamloops and there is a shortage of tradespeople throughout Kamloops,” he said. “So it is something that the whole real estate and development community is struggling with right now. But hopefully it encourages more people to go into trades here at TRU and in the long run it’ll be a win-win.”

That however, hasn’t stopped Kelson Group from engaging in some friendly competition with the Creston House’s developers, Cape Group.

“We can do a friendly rivalry to see who’s up first. They are a condo building and we are a rental building, so there are some differences,” Fawcett said. “We aren’t attracting the same renters or buyers. So on that level, I think it’s fun to be competitive and see who can get done first.”