Located in south central British Columbia at the intersection of the Trans-Canada and Yellowhead highways is where you’ll find Kamloops — a vibrant, urbane city with a clear vision to the future. Almost 100,000 people already call this city home, and with a strong, stable economy, Kamloops continues to attract a diverse range of savvy entrepreneurs and business people who discover the climate, amenities, and housing prices make this an ideal alternative to larger, costlier urban centres like Vancouver.
“We’re seeing more and more people who grew up in Kamloops, moved to places like Vancouver or Calgary, and are now coming back for the lifestyle and the jobs — especially in the high-tech sector,” says Lincoln Smith, executive director of Kamloops Innovation.
And with so much going on, it’s no wonder people of all ages are loving the move. There’s a thriving arts and cultural community plus a burgeoning array of hip ’n’ happening eateries and coffee shops. The four local wineries have been winning big time at all levels of competition, and the annual BrewLoops Festival just gets bigger and better every year.
An outdoor enthusiast’s heaven, Kamloops has everything from casual urban hiking to heart-pounding extreme. Mountain biking is epic here. Championship golf courses include the scenic Tobiano Golf Course that’s consistently ranked among the most beautiful, most challenging courses in the world by pros and industry watchers alike. It’s a 30-minute drive to the world-renowned Sun Peaks Ski Resort, and more than 100 lakes are within an hour’s drive. Plus there’s a diverse range of tournaments and other sporting events throughout the year.
High Tech Soars
Kamloops’ tech sector includes more than 200 existing companies — large, well-established companies like BC Lottery Corporation, Streamline and Truvian Labs. And Smith notes that as more and more open for business, there’s a snowball effect in terms of ability to attract even more great minds and talent. “Young people, especially someone who’s just starting their career and perhaps thinking of a family, know that if there are half a dozen job opportunities in their area of expertise it mitigates the risk. They can feel confident they will find work here, they have the same earning potential as they would in a place like Vancouver or Montreal, but they will also get to enjoy the lifestyle benefits.”
It’s not just large, global companies that are discovering Kamloops is a great place to invest. Entrepreneurs in every field are taking note, and in October 2017, Kamloops was named Community of the Year by Startup Canada — a national award recognizing outstanding innovation and excellence in advancing Canadian entrepreneurship.
As these companies grow there’s a reliable source of highly skilled, tech-savvy graduates from Thompson Rivers University (TRU) — itself a significant economic driver. The university employs more than 2,000 staff and provides world-class learning to 12,000 on-campus students as well as another 14,000 through open learning and online studies.
The New Standard of Urban Lifestyle
TRU is also the location of The Reach, a trendsetting master-planned community located on 90 acres of hillside land situated in the very heart of the campus. Finlay Sinclair, president and CEO at The Reach, says even local residents often don’t realize the sheer magnitude of this undertaking: six phases of medium-to-high-density condominium housing, 3.5 million square feet of pre-zoned residential property ready to be developed, $1 billion in potential investment value. He adds that the views can only be described as “breathtaking.”
When complete, it’s anticipated between 7,500 and 10,000 people will live at The Reach. Retail, restaurants, outdoor plazas and community gardens will animate the entire neighbourhood, making this a destination both for the area’s residents and for the many tourists who visit every year.
“The Reach is a ‘people first’ community — pedestrian-friendly, multi-generational, and values driven,” Sinclair says, noting it’s one of Canada’s first communities to incorporate an e-bike share program. “The cutting edge, urban design will redefine TRU and Kamloops’ residential, commercial and retail landscape — innovative, vibrant and connected.”
Following the highly successful model used at both the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University in Metro Vancouver, The Reach is governed by the TRU Community Trust. Parcels of this 90-acre property will be sold to developers as 99-year leases and funds raised will be applied directly to support academic research and student scholarships — a win-win scenario for the university, the developers, and the community itself.
“A lot of communities claim they offer the best lifestyle or the hottest investment opportunity, but we believe The Reach actually is the best emerging, urban opportunity,” says Chantelle Stone, marketing and communications manager at TRU Community Trust. “Kamloops is maturing on many fronts, and we’re confident that people who invest in The Reach now will reap the rewards in coming years.