Kamloops Real Estate News

Kamloops Real Estate News Stories And Articles

Venture Kamloops recently released this video about Kamloops and all it has to offer those who call Kamloops home. This short four minute video is a great snapshot of our city.

About Venture Kamloops:

As the economic development arm of the City, Venture Kamloops’ focus is just that, economic development. The team works to provide the most up-to-date information to those interested in starting their business in Kamloops or expanding operations into the city.

Venture Kamloops’ mission is to create economic growth to establish the city as the premiere location for business development. This is done by featuring the city’s resources and offering comprehensive information plus a full spectrum of support services to investors and entrepreneurs.

For more information about Venture Kamloops click here. You can also access their 2013 annual report through this link.

 

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on August 15th, 2013.

New Construction Kamloops BC Real EstateKamloops is like the tortoise in the fabled race against the hare.

Slow but steady, the city has been growing with a relatively stable economy and moderate increases in population, unlike some communities that have experienced the rushing boom and then sluggish bust of others.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. market analyst Paul Fabri said Thursday housing starts for the first half of 2013 in Kamloops have been close to those of the previous year.

In 2012, 317 homes were started between January and the end of July, while this year, that number is at 330.

“Kamloops overall has fared better in terms of new construction than some communities with resort housing or second homes,” such as parts of the Okanagan, he said.

Kamloops has also had stronger employment growth than some other centres, Fabri added.

He suggested single-family home construction hasn’t been as strong as multi-family because the market is competitive these days. He described the Kamloops economy as relatively stable, which has kept housing construction on an even keel.

“Overall, housing starts will reach my forecast for this year, which was 500 housing starts. That’s just slightly more than last year,” he said.

For 2014, Fabri predicts housing starts in Kamloops will reach 525 units.

On the other hand, Kelowna’s housing starts have dipped in the last few years, after taking a big drop during the 2008/2009 recession years. That’s because of a reduced demand for resort housing during that period, Fabri said.

“Kelowna hasn’t seen as robust employment growth as Kamloops has. That factor has helped maintain stable housing activity,” he said.

“On the resale side, prices have been pretty stable in Kamloops for the last year or two,” he said.

For the second month in a row, the value of building permits issued in Kamloops has exceeded 2012 monthly totals.

The city doled out $6.6-million worth of permits in February, compared to $4.2 million in the same period in 2012.

But, bucking the trend of late, February’s  surge wasn’t driven by commercial construction.

Commercial projects accounted for only $814,091 of the month’s totals, while residential-permit values totaled $5.7 million.

In 2012, residential construction accounted for only $1.3 million of permit value.

Multi-family projects accounted for the greatest amount of permit value, at $3.1 million.

Development and engineering director Marvin Kwiatkowski said that’s a trend that will likely continue.

“It’ll be higher than last year and you see that already,” he said.

A number of larger projects have yet to come through and the city is predicting it will add about 220 multi-family dwelling units by year’s end.

After a run of big-ticket commercial projects in previous months, Kwiatkowski said there aren’t many more major builds on the horizon.

On the institutional side, however, the city is expecting a $30-million bump from permits for the Royal Inland Hospital’s new clinical- services and parking building some time this year.

So far, the city has handed out $23.4 million in permits for 2013, compared to $18.8 million at this time last year.

By Andrea Klassen – Kamloops This Week

Link

The British Columbia Real Estate Association has released it’s British Columbia Housing Forecast Update for 2013 & 2014.

BC MLS Residential Sales Forecast 2013 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some important points from the report below:

  1. B.C. residential housing sales are forecast to rise 5.6% in 2013.
  2. B.C. residential housing sales are expected to trend higher. 6.1% in 2014 is forecast.
  3. Issues with the global economy make growth difficult in British Columbia presently.
  4. A stronger global economy is expected in 2013.
  5. The average B.C. MLS home price is expected to drop 1% this year to $510,400 and increase in 2014 by 0.6%.
  6. B.C. housing starts will increase 1.5% in 2014.

Kamloops Real Estate Housing Forecast:

  1. Kamloops and surrounding communities real estate sales will increase 3% in 2013 and 4.6% in 2014.
  2. The Kamloops average MLS price will increase to $315,000 an increase of .07% in 2013 and to $319,000 an increase of 1.3% in 2014.

Kamloops & BC Real Estate Housing Forecast 2013 2014

 

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on January 2nd, 2013 and was written by Michelle Young.

From a Real Estate perspective there are a number of areas of Kamloops where the assessed value put on a property is much higher than the true value of that property. Home owners should ensure that they know the true market value of their property if they are considering selling their home. I have come across a number of sellers who have thought that their assessed value was a good representation of the value of their home only to find out it was overestimated in excess of $50,000 in some cases. If you feel that your home’s assessment is incorrect make sure you appeal it as you have until the end of January to do so.

Article:

Call it the five-per-cent stability. Kamloops and surrounding communities have seen their property values rise and fall, but most are within a range of five per cent up or down.

That indicates a fairly stable economy as far as real estate properties are concerned, deputy assessor Graham Held said Wednesday.

Property values in Kamloops, with the exception of Barnhartvale, fluctuated up or down by less than one per cent for 2012, he said. Barnhartvale defied the trend, with values jumping 6.15 per cent.

City administrator David Trawin said the reason for that could be that larger lots are in more demand and there are a limited number of them.

Barnhartvale still has most of the remaining large lots, mainly because the City hasn’t allowed subdivision there due to a restricted water supply in that area.

Trawin said once the new water meters have been in use for a couple of years, there might be more subdivision allowed if the water pressures ease up. “It depends on what the impact is on water usage,” he said.

The assessment roll shows $173 million in new construction, subdivision and rezoning, which will add $1.2 million to City coffers. The overall assessment picture shows minimal fluctuation — and that’s good for residents, businesses and the City, he said. “It’s a positive sign given the economic times,” said Trawin.

“The stability is good. You don’t want to see properties dropping, but you don’t want to see them going up 10, 20 per cent at a time, either.”

Held said the trend in Kamloops is similar to many of the other communities in the region, including Merritt, Logan Lake, Ashcroft and Chase.

Even that $173 million in new growth in 2012 is similar to what Kamloops had in 2011. “We’re really close to last year in terms of construction. We’re not off much from the previous year for new construction,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of consistency with previous years. I guess it does speak to the stability and strength of the economy in the region.”

Kamloops Real Estate Association president Dave Peressini said the number of property sales was up two per cent in 2012 compared with 2011.

Again, it’s not a huge jump, but no one’s expecting that in real estate these days. “At the beginning of the year, our chief economist was joking flat will be the new up this year,” he said. “I don’t see much change coming in 2013, at least in the first part of the year. We don’t have great economic changes on the horizon, we’re not looking at interest rate hikes and other things that will trigger a change in the market.

“The general wisdom is we’ll be a little bit better in 2013 in the first (two) or three quarters. And in the end of the year, the economic situation in places like the U.S. should improve and filter into Canada. There’s no excitement here. It’s actually good for the buyers and sellers.”

The median price of a house sold in Kamloops last month was $359,500. One year before, it was in the $353,000 range. While prices haven’t seen any dramatic change, the expectations of buyers and sellers have, Peressini said.

Sellers have to price close to what they’ll accept, not buffer their selling figure with several thousand extra for additional negotiation room, he said. “You have to be close to the mark because there is competition out there.”

Where you live in Kamloops makes a difference to your property assessment. Here are B.C. Assessment’s changes for 2013:

Going up:

* Sahali, 0.56 per cent
* South Sahali, 0.19 per cent
* Westmount and Bachelor Heights, 0.38 per cent
* Juniper Heights, 0.32 per cent
* Barnhartvale, 6.153 per cent

Going down:

* North Shore, 0.20 per cent
* Valleyview, 0.60 per cent
* Aberdeen, Dufferin, 0.51 per cent
* Westsde 0.33 per cent

Average property value changes by community for residential and business:

* Kamloops, 0.93 per cent, 3.92 per cent
* Barriere, 1.67 per cent, 3.99 per cent
* Clearwater, 4.73 per cent, 1.79 per cent
* Merritt, -0.26 per cent, 3.16 per cent

* Ashcroft, 0.23 per cent, -0.14 per cent
* Cache Creek, 0.57 per cent, 3.84 per cent
* Chase, -2.11 per cent, 2.45 per cent
* Clinton, 1.77 per cent, 0.55 per cent
* Logan Lake, 2.12 per cent, 5.21 per cent
* Lillooet, -2.22 per cent, 9.11 per cent
* Lytton, -0.13 per cent, 1.07 per cent
* Sun Peaks, -0.60 per cent, 0.43 per cent

This article appeared in the Kamloops This Week on January 3rd, 2013 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

New Construction Kamloops BC Real EstateFor the first time since 2008, Kamloops has handed out more than $200 million in building permits in a single year.

The city’s latest statistics show $202-million in permits were given out in 2012, compared to $162.5 million in 2011.

City staff had originally predicted they would hand out between $130 and $150 million in permits this year, but a number of major projects drove the estimate up.

Among those was the Telus data centre. Its $30-million permit accounted for nearly all the $31-million in commercial-building permits issued in December 2012.

“That’s the one that put us over,” said city director of development and engineering services Marvin Kwiatkowski, who expects the big-ticket projects to continue into 2013.

“There’s still some others coming through the door, so I think we’re going to have a good start this year as well.”

Among the projects on the horizon are an $8-million permit for interior work on the new law building (the revamped Old Main Building) at Thompson Rivers University, a new $2.2-million John Deere dealership and a $60-million permit for the new clinical-care and parkade building at Royal Inland Hospital.

“It’s positive, because it’s putting people to work,” Kwiatkowski said. “When you’re having large projects of that nature, you’re having a lot of activity in the city. So, that’s a positive for our economy.”

After two years of relatively flat residential-construction numbers — 350 units of new housing were built in 2012, compared to 400 in 2011 — Kwiatkowski said that sector will probably pick up this year.

“We’ve got three larger multi-family projects, totalling just over 200 units. It could be close to $20 million with these three projects alone,” he said. That is more multi-family units than were built in the city in all of 2012.

For 2013, Kwiatkowski is predicting the city will hand out about $160-million in permits. Taking into account the projects he’s already aware of, Kwiatkowski is confident that target will be met.

“If you throw in all these projects here, including the hospital, we’re close to $100 million. And, if I put in residential like we’ve had the last couple of years, that’s another $40 million,” he said.

From there, smaller projects should fill the $20 million gap.

Kwiatkowski is also hoping to see more single-family home permits handed out in 2013 — a trend that often follows a period of heavy commercial construction.

Only 131 permits for single family homes were given out in 2012, two fewer than in 2011.

This article appeared in the Kamloops This Week on December 4th, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

The clock is ticking down, but director of development services Marvin Kwiatkowski is confident the city’s building-permit numbers for 2012 are going to break the $200-million barrier before the end of December.

With the release of November’s statistics, the city is standing at $167 million in permitted construction, up from last year’s overall total of $157.6 million.

One major project the city has been expecting all year — the $30-million Telus data centre — will apparently finally go through before the calendar rolls over.

“I’d put money on it,” Kwiatkowski said when asked if the city would end the year above the $200-million mark.

It would be only the second time Kamloops has doled out permits at that level.

In 2008, the record year to date, the city ended the year with $207-million in permits.

Overall, the city gave out permits worth more than $10 million for the month of November, compared to more than $11 million in November 2011.

Of that, residential projects totalled $6.6 million, down from $8.4 million in November 2011, while commercial endeavours were worth $3.2 million

November saw the city issue 15 single-family home permits, a higher than average number for 2012.

Kwiatkowski said the sudden rise comes as a new B.C. Building Code is about to go into effect on Dec. 20.

“Whenever you have a change of code, people want to get in the door,” he said.

Those who snap up permits before the 20th have two years to build under the old code, without having to worry about changes found in the new document.

While the city is set to exceed both its initial and revised construction-value estimates for the year, it’s still slightly below projections on residential units.

So far, 341 units have been permitted this year, compared to 383 at this time in 2011.

Development and engineering services had estimated there would be 350 units.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on September 30, 2012 and was written by Sylvie Paillard.

A new subdivision is being proposed for Westsyde and the City of Kamloops wants to know what locals think.

A proposed six-lot subdivision on nine hectares of land across Westsyde Road from the Dunes Golf Course needs to be rezoned, which means the public gets to have a say during an open hearing.

The current agricultural zoning allows for parcels no smaller than eight hectares. The developer hopes to offer one-hectare parcels, which requires a country residential zoning.

But the change in zoning does not mean fewer agricultural opportunities, according to a staff report. That’s because the property is not in the agricultural land reserve due its steep topography. Limited water kept the land from being considered for development in the past but that situation has recently changed, states the report.

“With completion of upgrades to the Noble Creek water system in 2010, some additional development potential in the area (approximately 19 new service connections) has become possible,” stated Marvin Kwiatkowski, Kamloops development and engineering services director.

The site is not entirely without complications, however.

Potential rockfall at the southwest corner of the lot led to a geotechnical assessment, which determined the hazard to be “very low,” according to the staff report. But some mitigation measures were still recommended, including barring development on the more hazardous portions of the lot.

“Subject to these required measures, staff are if the opinion that the proposed lots can be safely built upon,” states the report.

It remains to be seen, however, whether neighbours agree.

On Tuesday, Kamloops City council will determine whether to allow the issue to go to public hearing.

This article appeared in the Kamloops This Week on August 27th, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

Complex, big-ticket construction projects are the trend in Kamloops for 2012, according to a mid-year report from the city’s development and engineering services department.

Total construction value for the year is now over the $100-million mark, but director Marvin Kwiatkowski noted many of the city’s application numbers are below the 10-year average through the first half of 2012.

Development variance and rezoning applications are both below average.

Residential-construction numbers are also down this year, with 224 applications worth $44 million compared to 264 worth $56.5 million by this time last year.

What’s pushed the city well ahead of its original $120-million target for construction in 2012 is commercial building, Kwiatkowski said.

While the city has issued 90 permits this year compared to 97 at this time in 2011, the value of this year’s projects is more than double — $54 million compared to $24 million.

Kwiatkowski said the “value of the projects to the community” is increasing, pointing to a rezoning for Hugh Allen Drive that will see a $4-million building replaced with a $25-million hotel.

“It is indicative of the confidence that the development community currently has in Kamloops,” he added in the report.

On the business side, however, Kamloops’ numbers are looking flatter this year.

The total number of business licences in the city is slightly higher than this time last year, but new business starts are below both the city’s five-year average and 2011 numbers.

This year, there were 375 new licences given out, compared to 421 last year.

This article was written by Mike Youds of the Kamloops Daily News on July 24th, 2012.

Sun Rivers Kamloops Real Estate for SaleDid she ever imagine that Sun Rivers would grow to the size that it has?

Why, yes, Leslie Brochu tells people — the resort community’s master plan has pointed the way and ensures a cohesive development.

The vice-president of marketing joined Sun Rivers Development Corporation in 1999, the year the project’s first show home opened, after two decades in the housing industry.

“We didn’t even have a paved road,” she recalled while giving a tour of progress on the multi-faceted resort and residential development.

“It’s been a lot of fun and we’ve had a lot of interesting challenges,” she said.

Sun Rivers has not only grown to be Kamloops largest real estate development, it’s in a league all its own as build-out continues at an impressive pace. There are now 1,200 residents living on the slopes of Mount Paul where California bighorn sheep once grazed in isolation amid the sagebrush, and the resort community is only 40 per cent finished.

“We’ll see build-out over the next eight years, providing we see an uptick in the economy.” By then, the population is expected to reach 4,000 residents.

What’s new on the hill? There is construction activity all over.

The third phase of Talasa, a condominium complex, has just been completed. Ultimately, there will be six residential apartment-style buildings with 450 residences in total.

“We’re selling out very quickly. With all three buildings, we’re about 83 per cent sold out.”

Purchasers have ranged from students to young professionals and young retirees. Some are snowbirds who like the convenience of a lock-and-leave home. They still fit the Sun Rivers demographic — an average age of 48-50.

“These people are making pretty significant lifestyle changes when they decide to buy. It’s not downsizing, necessarily, it’s simple-sizing. On estate lots (for example), they’re building these dream homes.”

The centre of the complex will become the hub of Sun Rivers, the village centre, which will incorporate retail and office space, a café, grocery store, wine and beer store, and pub, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and fitness centre.

New single-family-residence neighbourhoods offer a range of options for prospective buyers.

The Pointe, one- and two-level homes (1,650 square feet) that share some of Talasa’s post-modern/contemporary design, offer a step up in scale with distinctive touches, such as private courtyards, that bring the indoors out and the outdoors. These units start from $491,500. There are about 20 lots left.

Golf Ridge is an executive townhouse development with a West Coast craftsman design. The units are 2,100 square feet, offering a private residence club with a dipping pool and close proximity to the greens. There’s even golf-cart storage. Units start at $442,500.

Then there’s Ironwood, an adult-oriented neighbourhood of homes in the 3,000-square-foot range with base prices of $432,000 (two levels) and $412,000 (one level) on larger lots. These homes, currently selling, bear an Old World or English country design theme.

Visao, another new neighbourhood, lies between the 11th and 12th greens at the eastern end of Sun Rivers. Homes, including this year’s popular Y Dream Home, feature a Tuscan/Mediterranean design motif. Of the 23 lots in the first phase, 10 remain.

“I think people are delighted to have a different architectural style to work with.”

Just west of Visao Court lies the future Belmonte above the 10th green. Construction is getting under way with the first units to hit the market early next year. These will be attached homes, again with private courtyards. Six phases are planned over a six-year period.

Show homes within each neighbourhood are fully decorated and furnished, and there’s a construction showcase in the Irongate show home. Opened in June, the construction showcase goes beneath the finished surfaces to explain construction practices and the advantages of various energy-efficient and water-efficient features.

“This has been a real benefit for us, because the new-construction market has been so tough,” Brochu said, alluding to the impact of the HST. The market was hurt more by perception than reality. They dropped prices two per cent to fight the perception.

“The new-construction industry really stalled because people were afraid. They didn’t understand.”

The PST is an embedded tax in the industry, paid during construction. When it’s re-introduced, prices will go up as a result, taxes will go down, but the overall cost will remain the same.

At the top of the development, construction is underway on a new irrigation reservoir and waterworks, in itself a $2-million construction project. Down slope from the reservoir lies the site of a future resort hotel/clubhouse, immediately above the first green.

Local interest continues to be the prime driver at Sun Rivers. About 70 per cent of buyers are local, with buyers from elsewhere in B.C. and Alberta making up most of the other 30 per cent.

The primary challenge of such a large and protracted development has been the market. Through the peaks and valleys, the partnership — headed by principal investor Martin Zumtobel of Austria — had to pace themselves to ensure they can meet demand without over-extending the inventory and capital costs.

“This is the third economic cycle or softening of the market, since we started,” she noted. In 1999, the year they broke ground, there were only 99 housing starts in all of Kamloops, which was indicative of a lull. “Twenty years was our original build-out goal, so we’ll be off by four years.”

This article appeared in the Kamloops This Week on July 18th, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

A re-design of a controversial proposed strata slated for land next to Aberdeen elementary school is getting solid reviews from city staff.

Though council already agreed to give Craftsman Ventures another public hearing to try to rezone 2171 Van Horne Dr., the development was back at council on Tuesday, July 17, for a few housekeeping measures that weren’t passed during the original reconsideration vote.

The developer is asking to have the 2.2-hectare parcel rezoned from church to medium-density multi-family.

Under the new design, the strata would have 58 units of duplex, triplex and apartment-style housing.

The original 64-unit plan was shot down by council in May due to concerns about how the development managed ground and storm water in an area with a history of water and slope-stability issues.

But city planning and development manager Randy Lambright said the new design, which directs storm water into a city gully east of the property, is a good solution to the problem.

“We are very comfortable with what they’re proposing,” he told council.

“It’s likely better than what they were proposing initially.”

The strata plan hasn’t been popular in the Aberdeen neighbourhood, however.

At the last public hearing more than 100 people showed up to raise issues with the plan. In addition to water issues, residents raised concerns about privacy, traffic and a loss of views.

Residents were also unhappy the property they had expected to some day house a church might instead hold rental housing.

Most dwellings in the area are single-family homes, and several residents argued the strata would change the character of the neighbourhood.

During an appeal to council in June, Rob Gobelle of TRUE Consulting — who spoke on behalf of developer — said the new design was meant to deal with some of those neighbourhood issues.

The nearest buildings are now 29 metres from nearby homes, instead of eight, and the number of visitor parking stalls on site was upped to keep traffic from spilling onto other streets.

Craftsman Ventures will pitch the updated site plan to Aberdeen residents at an open house at Aberdeen elementary on Monday, July 23, at 7 p.m.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on July 6th, 2012.

New Construction Kamloops BC Real EstateCommercial and institutional construction is keeping builders in Kamloops busy while residential work is lagging slightly from last year.

City acting chief building inspector Bruce Barclay said Friday the first half of this year has seen construction values surpass $100 million. Last year at this time, those values were at $84 million.

The main driver behind that is business and institutional projects, he said.

For example, there’s a new $12.2-million seniors’ residence going up on Tranquille Road in Brocklehurst.

Single family construction is at $20 milion halfway through the year, while it was at $21.3 million at this point in 2011. Multi-family is down a bit, too, but expected to move upward as demand in that market rises.

Barclay said by the end of the year, he expects the construction-value total to be around $175 million. Pretty good, given an average year in Kamloops is between $120 and $140 million, and that the economy is still considered to be relatively flat.

“We’re on for a very strong year,” he said.

There are still some big-number projects expected to come through City Hall for permits this year, including Telus’s $30-million data centre, $6 million for Walmart’s expansion and $6.5 million for Target’s renovations to its Zellers location.

Kamloops has always paced itself well where commercial and residential construction is concerned, Barclay said.

“We’ve never done a Kelowna or a Vancouver to build it and they will come,” he said.

Instead, the buildings have been constructed as they’ve been needed.

“That’s the way most of our builders work. They’re not going to build without there being something there.”

City community development manager Randy Lambright said the numbers are encouraging, especially given the economy is being described as sluggish to recover from the 2008 recession.

“It’s all good and it can only get better, depending what happens with new industry coming into town with or without Ajax mine,” he said, adding there’s interest from other businesses in coming to town.

“It’s a manageable rate of growth.”

Housing prices are driving a growing interest in multi-family housing, which is raising more questions at City Hall about density and what should be encouraged for infill.

But, overall, all the construction figures for this year are positive, even on the housing side, he said.

This article appeared on the Vancouver Sun on June 19th, 2012 and was written by Jeff Lee.

Tobiano Real Estate PropertyOne of Canada’s best golf courses, the Tobiano Golf Course on Kamloops Lake, has been put up for court-ordered sale for $5.5 million.

The Thomas McBroom-designed 18-hole course, ranked as the sixth best public course in Canada and No. 16 in SCOREGolf’s Top 100 courses in Canada, was seized by the Business Development Bank of Canada last year after developer Mike Grenier was ousted by two banks that placed his overall Tobiano Resort complex into receivership.

The adjacent resort continues to be administered by a receiver acting for BMO. But in May B.C. Supreme Court allowed the Crown-owned BDBC to proceed with a sale of the golf course because it had specific guarantees tied to the golf course lands. .

Vancouver-based NAI Commercial Real Estate, which just listed the golf course on Multiple Listing Services, says the 231-acre golf course includes a clubhouse, pro shop and licensed 120-seat restaurant, course maintenance facilities, paved roads and parking.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

This article appeared in the Kamloops This Week on June 7th, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

A jump in residential construction, coupled with some big-ticket projects on the horizon, has the city of Kamloops rethinking its building-permit estimates for 2012.

In May, the city issued about $20 million in residential permits, more than double the $8.7 million it issued in 2011.

The permits included 15 new single family dwellings and 115 new multi-family units.

In May 2011, the number of multi-family units added was eight.

Acting director of development services Kundan Bubbar said developers are rushing to fill a residential void left by several quiet construction years.

“For the last couple years, we haven’t seen too many new residential houses being built,” he said.

“Now, the inventory is almost diminishing and builders are taking advantage of low rates and also the demand in the market.”

Permits are being issued mainly in Aberdeen, Westsyde, Batchelor Heights and Juniper.

To date, the city has issued more that $79 million in permits, up from $68 million at this time last year.

While the city had expected to issue between $120 and $140 million in permits this year, Bubbar said it’s now looking like Kamloops will be on par with last year, when permits totalled just over $162 million.

“It shows the city is not in the same position as the other Okanagan cities are, where things are slowing down,” he said.

“We are still doing better than the average.”

Commercial construction is also up slightly over last year, with $2.8 million in permits, compared to 2011’s $1.5 million.

Bubbar said there are also a few major projects coming which should keep permit stats high, including the $30-million Telus Data Centre, which is expected to finish the permitting process later this year, and several seniors’ residences in the works for the North Shore.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on June 4th, 2012 and was written by Sylvie Paillard.

Downtown Kamloops Economy Business OpportunityDespite jumping the gun on the start-up of Ajax Mine, a magazine article’s accolades for the business climate in Kamloops is still good news for the City by all accounts.

A combination of nature and nurture makes Kamloops the best place for business in B.C., and among the top three in western Canada, according to Venture Alberta magazine, a 15-year-old publication that boasts more than 160,000 business readers.

“We look at hard indicators like business tax, median income and average lease rate,” said Venture Alberta editor Michael Ganley. “But there’s also a lot of softer stuff, like a community that’s close to the mountains and has got some great swimming.”

The city’s strength in mining also boosted its ranking, despite the magazine’s incorrect report that Ajax mine started up a year ago and employs more than 850 people.

The magazine’s editorial staff took in 85 applications from communities from Saskatchewan to B.C. and settled on Kamloops as its top pick of the 25 best, based mainly on its new reputation as a hub for tech companies.

“That’s an industry of the future,” said Ganley. “Working on becoming a centre for IT, for communications, that set it apart.”

Q9 opened its six-megawatt data storage facility in April of 2010. It’s currently used to store information for the B.C. government. Just next door, Telus is building a $75-million facility set to open some time in 2013. The communications giant plans to invest $100 million in the city over a three-year period.

The magazine also points to developments in the business sector as a boon. Kamloops licensed 5,512 new business permits in 2011, a slight increase of 1.7 per cent from 2010. It also increased its annual construction value in the commercial, industrial and institutional sectors by nine per cent, to $57 million in 2011.

Despite the erroneous reference to Ajax, mining still gets top billing for its investment.

Rick Robertson, an owner of Robertson MFG, a Kamloops-based supplier of core and soil-sample boxes for the mining industry, is among the entrepreneurs benefiting from the area’s natural resources.

“We’ve got tremendous mining development potential and longevity,” he said.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake says the area is naturally suited to be an IT hub since fibre optic networks follow the railway lines with CN Rail and CP Rail coalescing in the City. And its natural resources give it prominence for investment as well.

But there’s no forgetting the City’s business nurturing aspect.

“Venture Kamloops is getting stronger and stronger,” he said, referring to the City’s business information and economic development organization.

“People who are looking to do business here can find out about it in a very short period of time and that wasn’t always the case.”

To hear him speak of selling the area, Venture Kamloops executive director Dan Sulz makes it sound easy.

“I keep saying it’s really going to be our time to shine,” he said. “Because of the diversity of our economy, there’s a business case for businesses to be here but there’s also a reason for people to visit here as well.”

Diversity of industry attracts investment from firms that know skilled employees will be attracted to areas where they can live and work, said mayor Peter Milobar.

“The strength of our diversification and the wide variety of things that we have driving our economy are all strong and stable right now,” he said.

And with the City’s focus on balancing business, social issues and public amenities, Venture Kamloops will have plenty to boast about, said Milobar.

“Venture Kamloops is instrumental in trying to get the word out there to the broader investment community and publications and articles like this are another tool that they can use to effectively demonstrate what they’re saying is backed up by other people.”

Read the Alberta Venture profile for Kamloops.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on May 15th, 2012 and was written by Cam Fortems.

A revised plan for Tranquille on the Lake will go to public hearing following initial approval from Kamloops council Tuesday.

One of the key proposed changes at Tranquille is deletion of a proposed golf course.

Detailed changes to the concept require an amendment to the city’s official community plan.

The proposed residential subdivision will be zoned for 1,000 to 2000 units of housing. Seventy-six per cent will be green or open space and it will feature a city park and boat launch.

Developers are promoting farming on traditional lands that will co-exist with housing. The proposed subdivision at the east end of Kamloops Lake — a former tuberculosis sanitarium and home for people with developmental disabilities — will have its own water and sewer services.

It will feature an overall theme of sustainability.

“When Tranquille, back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, was in its heyday, it was a sustainable community,” said City community development manager Randy Lambright, noting it was home to a farm, slaughterhouse and had its own water and sewer system.

“They’re attempting to go back to those roots.”

Promoters are opening a farmers’ market at Tranquille this month.

No date is set for the public hearing on the proposed amendment to the official community plan.

“Over time we may have to think of things like adding transit,” Lambright said in response to a question by Coun. Arjun Singh, who expressed concern about single-occupant car trips.

More than 150 people attended recent open house meeting by proponents B.C. Wilderness Tours.

Developers are seeking changes to permit development but have no near-term plans for construction due to the wider economic conditions.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on May 2nd, 2012 and was written by Mike Youds.

For a neighbourhood nervous about a proposed strip mine just over the hill, a City open house on Wednesday seemed, well, more like a walk in the park.

West Highlands will be Kamloops’ newest city park once it’s developed next year, and there was no doubt at Aberdeen elementary Wednesday night that the park will be a crowd pleaser.

“It’s a good thing,” said Vance Ardell, one of about 75 people, many of them area residents, who attended the session. “I’d like to see people using it, I like to see the dogs out using it and the kids using it, too. I like the whole thing.”

The 14-hectare, donut-shaped green space is an urban redevelopment project that practically fell into the City’s lap when Aberdeen Highlands Development Corp. decided to close Aberdeen Links last fall.

The golf course simply wasn’t sustainable, said Glenn Grant, a neighbourhood resident.

“This will be more widely used by residents around there,” he said.

Responding to a survey that showed overwhelming support for a park, the company sold a parcel of the land to the City for $2.3 million and donated other portions. With another $2.5 million earmarked for park development, the City got the planning process underway Wednesday by asking for input.

Conceptual plans include redeveloping the former clubhouse as a possible community centre flanked by a couple of playfields, expanded parking, community gardens and preservation of the existing pond. A 1.7-kilometre linear path would weave through the grassland section of the park, which encircles an existing subdivision.

Erynn Carney, a young mother, sees the potential to address a recreational shortcoming in the city — toddler parks.

“There are so many kids up here,” she said. “In fact, most of the city doesn’t have a toddler-friendly park.”

Another not-quite-so-young contingent was well represented.

Matthew Gosse was with a group of young longboard riders from throughout the city who hope to see part of the park offer paved trails. As members of the Kamloops Longboard Club, they give lessons to youngsters and argue for a safer alternative to streets.

“Opportunities like this don’t come up too often,” Gosse said, noting that the amenity could serve multiple purposes.

“It would be the best place in the city for it,” added Brendan Woods, who recalled having been hit twice by vehicles while longboarding on the street.

Winter sports — skating on the pond and cross-country skiing on the trail — are another possibility.

“Given the elevation of the park, I think winter activities could have huge appeal,” said Michael Doll, a City parks planner.

There was but one bone of contention at the open house. Several residents complained about off-leash dogs and canine droppings. Stick-it notes were strategically placed on one map to show where bag dispensers ought to go.

“This is the biggest doggy park in the world,” said Joanne Linnell, whose home overlooks the golf course. “Is it going to be a doggy park or a park for people?”

With potential for another 3,000 residents in the neighbourhood through build-out by the developer over the next 10 to 15 years, there will be even greater need for a park in the area, said Coun. Nelly Dever.

Nick DeCicco, the City’s parks planning and project supervisor, said that’s a citywide complaint not confined to Aberdeen. He said residents are happy to see the former golf course preserved as public green space.

“Everything going well, we should be able to get the park developed next year,” he said.

Another open house will be held once public input has been added to the concept plan.

This article appeared on Kamloops This Week on May 1st, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

Tranquille on the Lake KamloopsA housing project slated for the historic tuberculosis-sanatorium lands on Tranquille Road is beginning to bear fruit.

Or, rather, vegetables.

While the village-style development is still years away from construction, the organic farm that anchors the project is up and running.

Starting Saturday, May 26, the Tranquille Farm’s produce will go on sale in a new farmers’ market space that will run on weekends to the end of summer.

The neighbourhood plan for the Tranquille on the Lake development will also head to city council this month.

“This sets the vision for the next 30 or 40 years, so, it’s really a key issue,” said development manager Tim McLeod.

“Once this is behind there, then zoning will take place. Then we’ll do a phased development agreement, then start to build.”

The updated plan was on display on April 26 at a downtown open house McLeod said was meant to give council and the public an opportunity to see where the plan is at now.

Tranquille on the Lake could include up to 2,000 residential units, which would include apartment, townhome and single-family dwellings and seasonal houses.

While past plans for the site included an 18-hole golf course, McLeod said it was written out of the latest draft to save more space for the organic farm and orchard that will cover about 60 per cent of the 191-hectare property.

“There’s a huge groundswell of people looking for good-quality food,” he said.

“They’re really concerned about it and they want to live where that food is.”

A marina planned for the village has also become a “working waterfront,” which McLeod said could include boat-repair and fishing shops.

“It’s more of a West Coast feel,” he said.

“So, on a Saturday morning, you take your latte and you can go along the beachfront and enjoy it.”

If council finds favour with the development, McLeod estimated it will take about a year to get through the regulatory process and two more years to get the first phase of the project to the move-in stage.

On the farming side, owners B.C. Wilderness Tours are also drafting a farm plan for the province’s Agricultural Land Commission, which functions much as its neighbourhood plan does.

The company is still hoping to take a portion of its property out of the Agricultural Land Reserve and replace it with non-ALR lands McLeod said are better-suited to farming.

In addition to granting approval for the farmers’ market, the commission has already agreed to an on-site RV park.

The full neighbourhood plan is available at tranquille.ca.

Click here to read more information about the area.

This article appeared in the Kamloops Daily News on May 2nd, 2012 and was written by Andrea Klassen.

From a driveway on Fleming Place, Gordon Kerfoot is contemplating the future of his view — and his view of the future.

Above his street sits more than two hectares of wild grass and shrubs, separating neighbours downslope from Aberdeen elementary on Van Horne Drive.

For the past 19 years, the site and the view have remained about the same.

On Thursday, April 26, landowner Craftsman Ventures Ltd. sent Kerfoot a computerized rendering of what he can expect his view to be like should their plans for the lot proceed.

In the printout, a row of beige buildings peek out from behind the rooftops of Fleming Place — five being duplexes that will line the northern edge of a proposed 64-unit strata development headed to public hearing later this month.

“I showed it to my daughter Amy. She’s 14 years old,” he told KTW.

“She was like, ‘Ew.’”

Together with Joanne Swifton — who lives on another street below the development — and two other homeowners in the neighbourhood, Kerfoot has been collecting signatures for a petition opposing the strata project.

So far, at least one person in each of 101 homes in the area has signed.

Much of the controversy surrounding the project has to do with its current zoning. For several decades, the land has been zoned for church use, though city staff have said a move to multi-family zoning is consistent with Kamloops’ Official Community Plan.

Swifton and Kerfoot said many in the neighbourhood feel the densification — which includes 11 duplexes, six triplexes and a four-storey apartment building — doesn’t make sense in the area and feel the development is being unfairly sprung on them.

“I don’t have the choice of deciding now whether I’d like to live next door to a multi-family development,” Kerfoot said.

“If I go choose to live up in the [Aberdeen] Highlands, I know the zoning is already in place. You buy your home and know that’s going to be multi-family housing, medium density.”

The two are also concerned about how the new development will affect the stability of the slope on which they live.

According to Craftsman Ventures’ rezoning application, the site will contain a network of under-drains, impermeable liners and other measures to keep groundwater from running onto properties below.

However, Kerfoot said he is worried about what could happen if the system fails several years down the road, or if the system is not installed correctly, given past stability problems other developments have experienced in the Van Horne area.

Other concerns include noise for those closest to the development’s sole street-access point and a shadow study provided to Kerfoot by the developer, which he said shows houses below the apartment building could be blocked from the sun through the month of December.

A public hearing on the lot’s rezoning is set for Tuesday, May 15, but Swifton said many area residents see the project as a done deal that will be difficult to fight.

She and Kerfoot have invited councillors to tour the site in advance of that meeting, though two days after sending out the request, they had heard back only from Coun. Arjun Singh.

Though they are leading  the opposition charge, Kerfoot and Swifton said they expect some sort of multi-family project will eventually be built ion the property.

But, they would like to see the developer rework the current proposal so there is more of a buffer between the edge of the project and Fleming Place — and, perhaps, fewer units built.

“It says in all the plan, developments need to complement the neighbourhood,” Swifton said. “The development we’ve seen doesn’t complement our community and we’re the ones that have to live with it.”

This article appeared on the Kamloops Daily News website on March 28th, 2012 and was written by Michele Young.

A long public hearing didn’t give neighbours of a proposed apartment and mixed-use building on Ninth Avenue and Fraser Street the answer they were looking for.

City council voted five to three Tuesday night in favour of allowing Lion Rock Developments to build a five-storey apartment where the Bridge Baptist Church now stands.

The company owns the church building; the Bridge Baptist rents the space but pastor Michael Oatway told council the room that’s being allotted for the church in the new plan is too small and he’ll be looking for a new location.

Coun. Ken Christian was absent from Tuesday’s public hearing. Councillors Donovan Cavers, Marg Spina and Arjun Singh voted against allowing the development.

Cavers, who lives in the area, said in the end, he felt the proposal was too big. Five storeys was just too high and too intrusive for the neighbours.

“This is the first decision I’ve been most torn one way or the other. I really support infill, I really support larger density developments near transit routes, which this one was as well. I support mixed-use developments,” he said Wednesday.

“I didn’t support it because I felt it was too big, five storeys is too high. And I felt they could have done more meaningful consultation with the neighbourhood.”

Coun. Pat Wallace said the decision was a tough one. The fact the public hearing went until 11:30 p.m. indicated just how difficult and controversial it was.

“This is a painful discussion I’m subjected to over and over. We’ve got to get densification, we’ve got to get the cars out of town. And right across from this proposal was a bus stop,” she said.

But there are big apartment buildings downtown and on the North Shore, with houses around them, she noted.

“That pain has to be shared. Nobody likes intrusion. People want their privacy protected, we can’t do that. My neighbour across the lane is higher than me. My neighbours can look in my yard.”

Wallace said she expects more projects like this one to come up in the future.

“I know that people are disappointed. But I still had to look at the greater issue. The land use is good. There’s a lot of pain in the decisions we make.”

The proposal calls for 52 apartment units — 33 one-bedrooms and 17 two-bedrooms — as well as space for a church, multi-purpose use, a 10-child day care and eight-seat coffee shop. It’s located directly across from the John Peterson building of South Kamloops secondary.

Many of the 60 people who crowded into the Interior Savings Centre for the public hearing said they didn’t want the development.

Fraser Street resident Barb Stratmoen, who has lived on Fraser Street for 30 years. She pointed out the area has three other apartment buildings in a three block radius that meet or exceed the recommended density in KamPlan.

“It’s a high density plan and high density proposal,” she said.

The height of the building would also see her lose her privacy and the parking lot behind her home — currently used by the school district office during the day and empty at night — is slated to be used by the apartment dwellers and their visitors in evenings and on weekends.

Don Ferguson of the recently formed Sagebrush Neighbourhood Association, said the largest elementary school in the city, Lloyd George, is a few blocks away, as is the largest high school, South Kamloops secondary. Beattie high school is also sharing space in the high school, making for even more traffic in the area, particularly when classes start and end.

Ferguson said there’s one four-storey apartment in the area, but the rest of the buildings in the neighbourhood are lower than that. There are no five-storey structures.

“We feel this is significant and overstepping the principles of KamPlan. What are targets and how will we know when to stop densifying for the neighbourhood,” he said.

He also appealed to council to do a neighbourhood plan for his part of town, too.

The owner of the four-plex right beside the church said he wasn’t notified of the developer’s neighbourhood meeting held back in October.

His tenants have lived in his building for years; one couple has been there for 37 years, he said. His concern was the building shadow would put some of them in the dark, and that parking behind his four-plex would be impacted.

City planner Linda Piroddi said the developer stepped back the top of the building and reoriented it to lessen the shadow that earlier plans had shown.

Lion Rock also plans to save the tall trees along Fraser and Ninth, she said. And there are 88 parking spaces included for the 52 residential units, visitors and other services in the building.

The units would be sold, and it would be up to the strata to decide if they could be rented out.

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