Thompson Rivers University has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ignition Developments Inc., a company looking to redevelop Tranquille into a new neighbourhood.
The university said it is undertaking the partnership to add experiential learning opportunities to its students. Topics of study could include soil health and farm-related research.
A concept design of the proposed development shows five neighbourhoods and hundreds of homes and other amenities constructed along the Thompson River between the Tranquille Wildlife Management Area (a bird sanctuary) and Cooney Bay, west of Kamloops Airport. Also shown are three large winery fields, various orchards and pastures.
Ignition said its approach "respects the land" at Tranquille, noting regenerative and sustainable farming will be used, with the goal to capture and store carbon while further reducing emissions through sustainable practices.
The development plans also include funding to manage the flow of the Tranquille River during drought.
Academic activities at the site will include species identification and management, riparian area management, stream flow management, fish habitat work, regenerative agriculture, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and landscape design and soil studies.
"This [partnership] allows students access to a local living laboratory and facilitates experiential learning and applied scholarship addressing topics important to the stewardship of the lands," said Greg Anderson, TRU's dean of science.
The land at Tranquille is designated as an agricultural land reserve (ALR) under the Agriculture Land Commission Act, meaning its priority use must be agriculture. The property, at 4600 Tranquille Rd., is owned by British Columbia Wilderness Tours Inc., which purchased the land in 1999.
In its most recent bid to exclude parts of that land from the ALR, the company is asking for an additional 1.13 hectares to be excluded to better fit the layout of the new design. In total, 50.91 hectares of the land would be excluded, adding to land already excluded in a 2012 decision by the Agricultural Land Commission.