The City of Kamloops will soon be working to create a new neighbourhood plan for the McGill Corridor. 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.
The McGill Corridor is the neighbourhood surrounding Thompson Rivers University, and in theory, it should be highly walkable.
It has a large population of students, many of whom don’t drive. It is mostly flat (relative to the surrounding area at least). There are grocery stores, pubs, restaurants, gyms, and retail stores.
But if you have ever tried to walk around the McGill Corridor you will quickly realize that it is not very pedestrian-friendly. There is high-speed thru traffic that often makes it feel far more like a Highway than a neighbourhood.
And if you include the turning lanes, McGill is a whopping 6 lanes of traffic to cross at the major intersection by Superstore.
Not only does this area often feel unfriendly to pedestrians, but it is also objectively unsafe. In 2019 a TRU employee, Lucy Phua, tragically died after being struck by a vehicle while crossing McGill Road — and this wasn’t an isolated incident.
Data from ICBC shows that the intersections around TRU are some of the most dangerous intersections in the city for pedestrians.
Over the last year, the city has started work to make this area safer, which included short-term recommendations such as maintaining a speed-reader board, RCMP enforcement, reducing the speed limit to 50 kilometres per hour in the area, and reviewing traffic light timing at intersections.
Some of the long-term changes that the city is evaluating for the McGill Corridor are perhaps most interesting with regards to walkability though.
One long-discussed proposal is the pedestrian overpass to connect TRU with the housing district below Superstore. Another is to add cycling infrastructure along McGill Road. There is even an idea to add roundabouts at certain intersections to decrease speed, which would significantly change the feel of the corridor.
As TRU continues to infill the front side of campus along McGill Road, there may be room for further, more radical changes to how this area feels.
To read one option on how these changes to the streetscape to increase walkability could be accomplished without causing traffic to back up in the area check out our post on the Hillside Connector.
What changes would you like to see to the roads along the McGill Corridor? How could we increase walkability and start to encourage connections between the campus and surrounding neighbourhoods?