The Cooper family has plans to transform the site of the recently closed Bowlertime and Dirty Jersey pub into a focal point in North Kamloops — the Cooper Centre.
New housing in Brocklehurst to support the project is also in the works, representing the family’s $40-million investment in the area between the two initiatives.
Cooper Family Foundation president and CEO Nelly Dever announced the developments Monday at the Eighth Street location, which is pegged as the future home of Kamloops Search and Rescue and the B.C. Search Dog Association, the next two recipients of the Cooper Family Foundation’s Wings Above Kamloops project.
Wings Above Kamloops sees the Cooper Family Foundation raise money through the family’s real estate projects and use the proceeds for worthy causes.
The first of the foundation’s endeavour was last year’s silent auction of a new home in Aberdeen, with money raised going to help fund a $1.4-million expansion at the Marjorie Snowden Willoughby Memorial Hospice Home.
Dignitaries and other visitors gathered for Monday’s announcement of the next two recipients were given tours of the currently gutted 11,780-square-foot space, which is being retrofitted to accommodate KSAR and the search dog association.
“We’ve been working on it for months,” Dever told KTW.
The facility will contain a 3,000 square-foot canine physical training centre, regional command centre for KSAR, lecture hall, board room, decompression station and 3,500 square-foot vehicle bays.
The two organizations will move in some time in 2020, with their rent being covered by the Cooper Family Foundation.
With most of the building sitting empty six months ago, the foundation approached the family about using the space for the next Wings Above Kamloops recipients.
“When we saw that it was a good fit for the search teams because of the size of the building and access to the highway, we saw a new vision for the site itself,” Dever said.
The Cooper family has owned the property for decades and has other development plans for the site.
A day care will open in the former bowling alley and there are plans to add a two-storey, 25-stall parkade and a Tim Hortons outlet in the parking lot.
“The whole site will be reconfigured,” Dever said.
The Soccer Quest facility will for now remain in the west side of the building.
Cooper Companies president Tod Cooper said there will be a completely different look to the property at Eighth Street and York Avenue once it is redeveloped.
“There’ll be a lot of changes to the slopes, landscaping and facia and lights,” he said.
Helping to fund the 2019 Wings Above Kamloops project will be the sale of 73 new homes in Brocklehurst that the Cooper family will build on a nine-acre parcel of land next to the Ord Road dog park.
Dubbed the Catalpa Community, named for one of 22 trees on the site, five styles of level-entry homes, two types of ranchers, two versions of single-family homes and a duplex will be built. Ten thousand dollars from the sale of each home will be donated to the Cooper Family Foundation top help fund constructing the new home of the Kamloops Search and Rescue and the B.C. Search Dog Association.
The housing will be listed at below average prices in Kamloops, as opposed to the bid system the Cooper family had in place for last year’s house on Bentall Drive in Aberdeen that supported the hospice project.
A groundbreaking ceremony for Catalpa Community is expected in the fall of 2019.
Dever said it was an easy decision to pick KSAR and the search dog association because they “give selflessly and never ask for anything back.”
Cooper said those groups are always ready to go out and save people, noting there have been high-profile cases involving KSAR in the last year, such as missing Sun Peaks resident Ryan Shtuka.
“It just became obvious as we were getting ready to hand over the fully finished hospice that these groups should be the next beneficiaries,” Cooper said.
KSAR search manager Alan Hobler told KTW the donation provides a place their members can call their own, noting the facility will be the first permanent location the organization has had since its inception in the 1970s.
“The city’s been providing us with facilities, so we haven’t been paying rent, but they’ve always been temporary and we’ve been moved around a lot,” Hobler said.
Mike Ritcey with the BC Search Dog Association said the facility will be used as a training space for dogs from across the province and beyond, increasing the group’s capacity to serve as an internationally recognized dog team.
“This is going to change the game,” he told KTW, noting the association has no dedicated indoor space anywhere in the province.
The Cooper Family Foundation was started in 2017 by the Cooper family, which was behind the Cooper’s Foods stores that permeated the city’s landscape for decades. In 1999, the family sold the grocery store chain to Overwaitea and has since been involved in property development.
Cooper described the North Shore as “a hidden gem” that will attract plenty of attention as the city continues to grow.
“This is not the end of our involvement in North Kamloops,” he said. “This is just the beginning.”