This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Bridges magazine.
By Sadie Cox & Anita Rathje
For over forty years, TRU’s campus has been constantly growing and strategically evolving. TRU has become more than the sum of its buildings, green spaces and pathways; it has become a community, a place to learn, live and play.
On November 14th, TRU announced that a new corporate trustee, TRU Community Corporation, will manage development on TRU property. Building on the 2003 Campus Plan, which recommended greater density and sustainability, TRU is taking steps towards a “university village” model for new development.
Additional on-campus housing in particular will enrich campus life for TRU students and add vibrancy to the campus. Mixed use development that includes grocery and drugstores, retail stores and other services below residences means greater walkability – encouraging students, staff and visitors to stay and enjoy their time on campus.
Having more housing and services right on campus will help with student engagement. The village concept will make the campus more alive, especially when classes aren’t on. Students will stay on campus more during the weekdays before, between, and after their classes, and come to campus more on the weekends.
“I’m all for higher density,” said TRU staff member Linda Komori, whose commute to campus is a 20 minute walk. “Kamloops has tended towards urban sprawl. Even walking distances across campus have been increasing.” Komori hopes to see expanded bus service, pedestrian malls, and a greater number of services close by. “TRU needs to find a balance between urban density and preservation of our natural setting.”
“TRU and the City of Kamloops are working together to make alternatives to car transit attractive to people, and increase the walkability of the campus,” said Tom Owen, director of environment and sustainability at TRU. The Transportation Demand Study, being conducted by Urban Systems, is looking for creative ways to encourage the 55 percent of staff and students living within one bus route of TRU to use alternative modes of transportation more frequently. A proposed pedestrian overpass on Summit Drive, part of the study and the city’s Bicycle Master Plan, would reduce the walk between Upper College Heights and Old Main by 500 metres, and provide a safer, more direct cycling route to the campus and areas like the Tournament Capital Centre.
“TRU can become a leader in that regard,” said Dylan Houlihan, transportation planner with Urban Systems, “reducing the number of people driving to the campus and increasing the adoption of other modes of transportation.” The study recommends a target of 40 per cent of people taking transit to campus, and suggests incentives to make alternatives more attractive than driving, such as the pedestrian overpass, improvements to transit, and more residence space on campus.
Owen said other plans being considered include constructing a secure bike facility by the Brown Family House of Learning. “It will have cameras and I think we’ll also put in a minor bike repair facility right on campus.” The House of Learning is a new hub for students, staff, and visitors, with its learning commons, full service Tim Horton’s, and the Irving K. Barber British Columbia Centre theatre venue. Green spaces created beside it and the addition of over 500 metres of new sidewalk also contribute to the walkability of campus.
Warren Asuchak, associate director of Facilities Services, said the sidewalks provide shorter and safer routes connecting buildings, parking lots and bus stops. “The additional sidewalk between Facilities and the House of Learning is an easier access from the core of campus to the bus stops,” said Asuchak.