What would you like to see on the North Shore in the next 20 years?
The City of Kamloops is updating its North Shore Neighbourhood Plan, which will guide land use over the next two decades. The plan was last updated in 2008 and city planning manger Jason Locke said the area has since experienced population growth and demand for development.
The area — 15 square kilometres of flat land beginning north of Overlanders Bridge and including a perimeter to the east along Schubert Drive, north along Ord Road, west to include Kamloops Airport lands and with Brocklehurst, McArthur Island, McDonald Park and the Tranquille Corridor in the middle — has about 26,000 people, or just shy of one-third of the city’s population.
A growing population
According to a background report as part of the planning process, which was published by the city in July, the North Shore’s population grew by 7.5 per cent between 2006 and 2016, with the majority (86 per cent) of that growth occurring in Brocklehurst, a suburban family neighbourhood with mostly single-family housing. Compared to the rest of the city, the neighbourhood has more kids ages nine and younger and fewer young adults ages 20 to 34. North Kamloops and Brocklehurst are the most densely populated neighbourhoods in the city and North Kamloops is home to the most rentals, including apartments and secondary suites.
Locke said the North Shore is experiencing increased development and demand continues for everything from apartments to single-family homes and office and commercial space. More than half of the housing north of the Thompson River was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s and commercial real estate on the North Shore is generally older than elsewhere in the city.
Identifying key issues
Locke recently joined the North Shore Business Improvement Association on a tour of the Tranquille Market in North Kamloops to gain perspective about the area. The city is also working with neighbourhood associations and other parties via an advisory group and has released a public survey, asking residents to describe their vision for the North Shore, as well as provide input into issues and opportunities.
In-person consultation will occur in the fall.
“It’s going out to the community and asking, what are the key issues?” Locke said. “What do you want to see addressed in this plan? The residents who live there have the best perspective.”
North of river statistics
So, what are the issues and opportunities on the North Shore?
Some issues identified in the background report appear to be socioeconomic factors. The median household income in North Kamloops is $46,500 — 37 per cent lower than the citywide median household income of $74,000. The city attributes that to more seniors and young adults living in the area, smaller than average household sizes and differences in labour force composition, with more people working in lower-income industries.
Twenty-five per cent of people in North Kamloops are considered to be low income, according to the report, compared to 13 per cent citywide, and the area is home to the largest share of the city’s retail workers. With significantly lower incomes than other areas of the city, 18 per cent of homeowners and 53 per cent of renters in North Kamloops live in unaffordable housing, both statistics higher than city averages.
“The overall trends suggest unaffordable rental housing is a significant city-wide challenge, but is a particularly acute issue in North Kamloops,” the report states.
During the past five years, residential sales in the area have increased by 24 per cent, compared to 10 per cent citywide over the same period. Housing prices also increased by 30 per cent from 2015 to 2019, about average in Kamloops.
About a third of the city’s crime from 2016 to 2019 occurred on the North Shore and North Kamloops experienced about twice as many offences per 1,000 residents as the city’s average, with crimes against people and property trending upward.
Plan will look at land use
The neighbourhood plan will not address issues such as income gaps or neighbourhood crime. However, Locke said challenges, when it comes to land use, include vacant and under-utilized sites. Some key locations include the large former Strauss Herbs site on Fortune Drive, which is currently being utilized for boat storage.
“There are businesses that are boarded up,” Locke said. “If you go down to the Tranquille Market corridor, you may see some of those places that are vacant or under-utilized. They may be in an area where some activity that’s undesirable may be congregating around.”
He said the idea with the land-use plan is to determine how the plan can help facilitate redevelopment of those sites and, by extension, help revitalize the neighbourhood.
Locke said the North Shore plan will also be utilized by potential investors and help to guide city policy in coming years.
Parking requirements an issue
Arpa Investments partner Joshua Knaak has spearheaded significant development along Tranquille Road. Knaak said he sees opportunity in that vacant, undeveloped land in the area.
“There’s big chunks of land that I think could really be developed,” he said. “Bringing in more density, more services, entertainment, that sort of stuff.”
He said one of the biggest challenges right now in building up the area is parking requirements. While commercial development in certain areas of downtown does not require parking, that is not the case in North Kamloops. Developing mixed-use commercial space in North Kamloops, Knaak said, requires significant amounts of parking and he’d like to see the policy match that of downtown.
“That [parking requirements] can get in the way,” Knaak said, noting it has prevented restaurants from opening in the area. “I think everyone agrees we’d like to see the North Shore, especially that Tranquille Corridor, become a strip for some great restaurants, bars, ethnic food, those kinds of things. But when parking is one of the highest uses, it limits your ability to do some of those things. Yet it’s in an area that’s probably one of the most walkable, cyclable in the city.”
Knaak said North Kamloops has a “great setup” with respect to open spaces and parks, including McArthur Island and McDonald Park. The area has a flat topography and central location, covering about 20 per cent of the city’s developed land.
Future plans for the North Shore include two new neighbourhood parks and planning for another bridge.
To learn more and to take the city’s survey to inform North Shore planning, go online to https://letstalk.kamloops.ca/northshoreplan. It is open until Sept. 30.