The Reach has been named as the development of the year by the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce at their 32nd annual Commerce Awards of Excellence. Deb McLelland, executive director of the Chamber, provides some reasoning behind the decision.
“I think a big part of it was The Reach’s accomplishment to engage some experts all across the province and put a business case together that convinced the B.C. government to transfer the development rights from TRU to TRUCT (TRU Community Trust),” she said. “They felt that the completion of the first phase was so significant to the future of the entire city that it was enough to catapult them over other finalists.”
The criteria for the award, sponsored by Fit Financial, was for the project to be completed within the 12 months before the nomination submission and a general demonstration of a contribution or investment to the economic and social impact to the Kamloops region.
TRU first announced TRUCT as their corporate trustee in November of 2011, revealing they would be managing the mixed-use development of TRU’s real estate. The trust is engaged in commercial activity with a mission that includes making profits to be used for student financial assistance, research funding and other university initiatives.
Brian Christianson, Stantec principal architect, shares his thoughts on the award and the impact The Reach has left in the community.
“We’re very excited obviously; certainly we’ve been at it since 2012, so a lot of long volunteer hours put into getting this project going and to see it coming into formation over the last year finally,” he said. “I’ve been in Kamloops for 25 years now and it’s probably one of the more transformational developments that have been undertaken in Kamloops.”
He mentions the various benefits of the project from improving campus and student life, densifying the southwest side of the city, along with its distinctive goal to give back to students for their research endeavours.
“When you look at the potential of The Reach over its lifetime, in terms of possibly adding as many as 7,500 residents and the impact on student life is the reason why we’re doing this,” he said. “The profit that is realized from the sale of the land lease goes right back to the students in the form of scholarships and research funding, that’s truly unique.”
The Reach has been notoriously criticized for questionable parking planning, affecting all stakeholders, including administration and students. Christianson assures the parking issue is exclusive to the university and not The Reach’s concern.
“The two buildings that are happening right now have parking provided within them to fulfil the requirement to service those developments; it’s very difficult for a developer to sell a unit without parking being associated with it,” he said. “For university specific parking, the university has some long-range plans in that regard.”
It is left to see how TRU will address the parking dilemma; nevertheless, there’s a chance a negotiation between the university, developers and strata council will occur in the near future.