TRU eyes $120M megaproject, potential additional condos for high-profile corner – Kamloops News

Thompson Rivers University is planning a $120-million megaproject for the corner of McGill Road and Summit Drive — and that price tag could climb significantly higher if condos are built on top.

University officials are optimistic Victoria might act fast to approve the project, which would house TRU’s STEM programming as well as its Bob Gaglardi School of Business and Economics (SoBE).

The potential development is one of a number of big-ticket items on TRU’s capital wish list, which also includes new student housing and an Indigenous education centre, among other projects.

The list is going before the university’s board of governors on Friday.

According to Matt Milovick, TRU’s vice-president of administration and finance, the university decided to combine STEM and SoBE — initially planned to be separate facilities — into one large project after the provincial government recently withdrew notional approval for a standalone STEM building.

“While discouraging news to receive, the ministry did signal that they were very amenable to receiving a capital submission that merged STEM and SoBE into one project,” Milovick wrote in a memo last week to TRU President Brett Fairbairn, a copy of which is going to the university’s board on Friday.

“The estimated budget for this is expected to be $120 million. TRU is currently working with the TRU Property Trust to develop a market residential concept to be built above the academic buildings. This is not included in the $120-million project cost.”

Condos would be in line with direction from B.C. Premier David Eby in April, when he urged local governments to work with stakeholders like health authorities and school districts to add housing to capital projects in an effort to combat the province’s housing crisis.

Milovick said the ministry “clearly indicated it was prepared to move quickly to fund” new TRU student housing, as well. A $24-million residence building is also on the wish list. It which would add 74 beds of student housing on a vacant lot on the east side of Summit Drive.

“TRU is preparing the business case now and anticipates that the funding for this project will come from a combination of grant and loan from the province,” Milovick’s memo read.

The proposed Indigenous education centre is expected to cost between $15 million and $18 million and is in the early consultation and planning stages, Milovick said.

The last major capital project TRU undertook was the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population Health, which opened in 2020 at a cost of $37 million.

The university opened a new early childhood education building last fall and expects to open a modular student housing development in September. Construction is also underway on a new on-campus wildfire research facility.

TRU also plans to build a $10M pedestrian overpass linking the university’s East Village — student housing across Summit Drive — with its main campus. The cost of the span is expected to be split 50/50 by TRU and the City of Kamloops.

Milovick is asking TRU’s board to approve the proposed capital projects in principle. They would have to come back to the board for final approval once OK’d by the province.

The university plans to submit its updated five-year capital plan to the provincial government on July 14.