Old bridge pilings in the Thompson River could one day be utilized for more than just a canvas used to cheer on the Kamloops Blazers.
As the city continues work to update its North Shore Neighbourhood Plan, preliminary ideas were presented to council during a committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday morning.
Envisioned for those old bridge pilings is a pier that extends onto the Thompson River. The pier would front a commercial area, creating a boardwalk as part of a Riverfront District, with the goal improved access to the riverfront. It would also connect to a proposed Rivers Trail extension from Royal Avenue to Overlanders Bridge.
City community planning supervisor Jason Locke said land acquisition, public investment, a feasibility study and consultation with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would be required.
“One of the big ideas here that could complement the Rivers Trail connection is a riverfront boardwalk and pier extension using the old remnant bridge piers that are in the Thompson River,” Locke told council.
The concept encompasses the Riverdale Trailer Court, lots fronting Tranquille Road from the overpass to Palm Street, the Henry Grube Education Centre and Overlander Park.
The concept, as detailed in a report to council, also reimagines part of the area as an industrial arts district for makerspaces, utilizing live and work units (combined living and workspaces), expanded urban agriculture and redevelopment of the Riverdale Trailer Court to include a mix of housing options.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said the city has done a good job creating access to the South and North Thompson rivers, downtown and along Schubert Drive.
“We’ve really done nothing on the Thompson River,” he said, noting with proper design, the city could better utilize that area.
Councillors Dieter Dudy and Bill Sarai expressed support for the pier concept, with Sarai saying he has heard interest for such a concept from the public.
“I’m hoping in my lifetime I get to see that,” he said.
Coun. Arjun Singh expressed concern about concepts in the plan displacing residents. He cited ongoing housing affordability issues in Kamloops.
“We don’t want to gentrify to the point we are displacing folks,” he said.
Other concepts identified in the plan include a new neighbourhood park space in the Schubert Drive area, improved connectivity, multi-family housing near Kamloops Airport, protecting smaller-storefronts in the Tranquille Market Corridor (similar to that on Victoria Street) to maintain area character, encouraging “missing middle” housing, densification through compact single-family lots and maintaining the Eighth Street corridor as an auto-oriented gateway to the North Shore.
As the area continues to densify, concerns about transport of dangerous goods was raised by multiple councillors.
In addition, Sarai expressed concern about the busy area connecting North Kamloops, Batchelor Heights and Westsyde, where vehicles merge onto Eighth Street to get to Ord Road, Batchelor Heights or Westsyde.
City of Kamloops development director Marvin Kwiatkowski said the city is working on a joint study with ICBC for the Eighth Street/Ord Road/Batchelor Drive/Westyde Road intersection.
In addition, the city is starting a study that will look at the feasibility of a second crossing over the Thompson River, west of Overlanders Bridge.
The city plans to go back to the public for further consultation, before finalizing the North Shore Neighbourhood Plan later this year.