The City of Kamloops will be working to create a new neighbourhood plan for the McGill Corridor this year. This post is part of a series is to highlight the unique history, geography, culture and potential of this rapidly changing neighbourhood before the planning process takes place. Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union (TRUSU) understands the impact that the proposed changes could have on students, as well as the broader campus community. TRUSU is committed to doing everything we can to share information, start discussions, and connect people to engage in this process. To stay informed about opportunities to provide feedback to the city on the McGill Corridor plan, sign-up at the end of this post.
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) has humble roots as a former regional college, but over the years, the organization has grown into a world-class university that welcomes thousands of students every semester.
But the university’s campus isn’t the only aspect of the organization that has changed: TRU’s continuous growth has had an impact on the entire city.
Nowhere has that growth been more evident than in the McGill Corridor.
So what has changed over the years?
To put it simply, there are far more people living in the community every year, and as a result, the types of businesses and the character of the neighbourhood is slowly changing. The upcoming McGill Corridor plan is a chance for us to be more intentional about growth.
What’s changing in the McGill Corridor?
Far more people live on, and around, the TRU campus
Traditionally, the area around TRU has been a business district focused on light industrial, such as shipping and receiving, warehouses, and commercial building supplies, not a place where people actually lived.
But with the rapid pace of new condo developments both on-and-off campus, combined with older apartment complexes near the campus, the McGill Corridor is quickly becoming a densely populated neighbourhood and will play a major part in any city housing strategy.
The Reach, which is TRU’s on-campus housing development, includes a master plan to build 3500 new housing units on-campus in the years to come.
To put this in perspective, Kamloops only had approximately 36,000 housing units as of 2016. This plan would represent a 10 per cent increase from current housing inventory in Kamloops when fully built out.
The areas around TRU have also seen spikes in residential developments. Fifteen years ago, the block across from campus between Summit Drive and Dalhousie Drive was largely undeveloped.
Today, this area is home to some of the densest residential developments in Kamloops, including the Landmark buildings and McGill Ridge Apartments.
On the other side of campus below Superstore, there are also a large number of rental units of varying configurations, including townhouses and apartments. These units are aging, and increasingly play an important role in the housing students during a highly competitive rental stock.
The Changing Face of Business
As this neighbourhood has continued to grow, the types of businesses in the area have also continued to evolve.
In the most recent neighbourhood plan developed for the McGill Corridor in 2001, a full 50 per cent of the plan area was designated as an industrial park.
According to the announcement of the plan, “Policies encourage maintaining road network functions to support large truck and transport traffic rather than high volume consumer traffic in personal automobiles.”
Looking at this neighbourhood in 2021, there are still significant areas of light industrial, and this will likely continue in the near future, but there are also signs of change. Gyms, yoga studios, coffee shops, breweries and distilleries, and other types of people-facing businesses have all opened in recent years. This trend will only grow as popular mixed-use developments in the neighbourhood continue.
Future of the McGill Corridor
While the last McGill Corridor plan provided some direction for development in the area, there has also been significant organic growth in this area as TRU has expanded.
Towards the end of 2021, the City of Kamloops is planning to develop a new plan for this neighbourhood, which is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and other community members to put forward their vision.
Could the McGill Corridor become an arts district? Could it play an important role in Kamloops nightlife? Could it become the home to a concentrated craft brewing or distilling industry?
It’s clear the population that calls the McGill Corridor home will only grow. If the last 10 years have seen the organic growth of the neighbourhood, perhaps the 2021 McGill Corridor plan can build on these changes.
In Fall 2021 we will be encouraging all interested students, faculty, staff, and community members to share their visions for the future of the McGill Corridor. If you want to be notified when there are updates on the McGill Corridor plan or opportunities for you to provide feedback to the City of Kamloops enter your information below!