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Can: TRU plans major housing, retail space

Thompson Rivers University, located in Kamloops, 350 kilometers northeast of Vancouver in the interior of British Columbia, is looking to an ambitious campus development proposal to raise its profile, including with international recruits.

The current campus has views of the Thompson River valley, but is largely comprised of classrooms and offices and few after-5 p.m. activities.

When fully built in 20-30 years, the campus “village” will include entertainment, retail and other facilities

The university’s independent real estate development arm, TRU Community Trust, is scheduled to sign agreements later this year with private developers for the first phase of the University Village project, including 600 units of multi-residential housing and retail offices over the next five to seven years.

When fully built in 20-30 years, the campus “village” will include entertainment, retail and other facilities. Anticipated real estate revenue will finance scholarships, bursaries and university research.

“We anticipate parents of international students will buy those condos”

Recruiting international students is a key strategy at the university where international enrolments already account for 23% of students on campus. The mixed-use development is one way to stand out from the crowd.

“The education market globally is very competitive,” said Findlay Sinclair, cct Trust president and CEO. “To bring more students there has to be a pitch that is different…this will give TRU an opportunity to move into a different category.”

The current campus has “world-class views” of the Thompson River valley, he adds, but is largely comprised of classrooms and offices and few after-5 p.m. activities.

An artist rendering of the proposed project. Photo: TRU.

An artist rendering of the proposed project. Photo: TRU.

Baihua Chadwick, cct associate vice-president international and CEO of global operations for TRU, said international students usually live on campus or in home stay accommodation in nearby Kamloops.

“If you have a vibrant campus after hours with other activities in addition to classrooms or offices that has to be good for all students and particularly good for international students,” she said.

The project is also expected to attract buyers, including parents of international students, for the proposed condos and townhouses that, in the Kamloops real estate market, would sell well below pricey Vancouver.

“We anticipate parents of international students will buy those condos or other individuals will buy those condos and rent them to international and domestic students,” said Matt Milovick cct, TRU vice-president of administration and finance.

“It [the village] will make TRU a more attractive destination for international students knowing that supply is on campus.”

With “moderate managed growth” in international enrolment of 1-2% a year forecast by TRU, the proposed village is just one more selling point, said Chadwick. “I see this having a really positive impact for our recruitment effort.”

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