EDITORIAL – Spirit Square project will turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SOMETIMES the City of Kamloops gets it right and I think the new plan for Spirit Square is one of those times.

Arpa Investments and the City announced agreement this week on a land swap that will pave the way for redeveloping the area around Spirit Square between MacKenzie Avenue and Tranquille Road.

It will include two mixed-use buildings that will encompass a restaurant and commercial space, and 43 affordable housing units for seniors, plus parking.

The project will turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse and add to the regeneration of the Tranquille Road retail corridor.

Spirit Square itself was a mistake, built with the help of provincial money as “a celebration of the history and geography of the North Shore.” That’s how then-mayor Terry Lake put it in 2008 when it was announced.

The City put in half the $750,000 cost of the project, the provincial government the other half as part of B.C.’s 150th birthday celebration.

But it is a cold, uninviting place that is seldom used for the community events it was supposed to encourage. Why would anyone want to be there when McDonald Park is just a couple of blocks away?

Those who do use it are sometimes not of a law-abiding nature, a concern to neighbours who have been trying for years to make the area more friendly and attractive.

The Arpa project will turn Spirit Square into a proper courtyard for the new buildings, making it an inviting people place. In essence, it corrects a 10-year-old error.

About Mel Rothenburger (6753 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Spirit Square project will turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse

  1. Ken McClelland // February 24, 2018 at 10:57 AM // Reply

    Gee Pierre, there is apparently nothing quite as satisfying as looking for a rain cloud on a sunny day…..

    • Gee Mr. McClelland those rain clouds (aka questionable decisions) do appear with alarming regularity around here. Or are you just momentarily forgetting the monetary debacles…where do you come from?

  2. David Johnson // February 23, 2018 at 5:38 PM // Reply

    Completely agree, great public private partnership, checks a bunch of boxes; Ask Wellness seniors housing and some commercial built by a private company and Arpa gets to build and sell 33 market apartments to pay for it all, aaand get Thrupp Manor site as well to profit from that the City can’t use.
    I chuckle about the ‘Tranquille Road neighbourhood revitalisation part as touted … residents will have access to busses and Timmies and craft beer, but will drive away for everything else, just like everyone in the area does. This wont ‘change Tranquille’ … as it’s not ‘ON Tranquille’ and replacing derelict buildings.

  3. Have you Mr. Armchair mayor really checked into the numbers and the details of this mega-proposal? Council and staff’s record is not one of the most stellar when it comes to developments/benefits at large/later problems/etc. We, mere mortals have no way to check all the stuff out and by the time reality sets in a whole bunch of them “decision makers” would’ve since been retired.

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