EDITORIAL – Design for new building beside old train station is out of place

(Image: City of Kamloops)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

SOMETIMES I THINK there isn’t an architect in Kamloops with imagination, not a single developer with any historical sense of the city, not a civic politician who would be unhappy if every building in town was a square box made out of vinyl, a few bricks and Hardie plank.

I know, I’m a broken record when it comes to how we build in the Tournament Capital but I just have to draw your attention to the lot immediately beside the historic CN Railway station.

A developer wants to erect a three storey building — a restaurant plus residential units — and requires a parking variance but there’s also the matter of design.

To quote from a report from staff to City council:

“… Many of the features, such as the third storey, building form, and window layout, are asymmetrical, which conflicts with the highly symmetrical design of the rest of the development and original Station.

“A previous development permit for the site… was undertaken in 2004 during initial development of Station Plaza and the surrounding properties. This design closely mirrored the Station by complementing its symmetrical form, two-storey height, and features such as a gabled roof with dormer windows…

“Staff wish to highlight to Council the departure from the precedent created throughout the development of Station Plaza and the surrounding context as the proposed development introduces modern, asymmetrical architecture themes into this context.”

That’s an extremely kind description. This new building will tower over the old train station and is totally out of keeping both with the station and the rest of the plaza.

What did council say? A couple of comments about how “fantastic” it is that something’s being built there, but no opinions about the building’s design.

Look, not every building has to look like a heritage building but is it asking too much to make developers respect the historical context of what’s nearby, especially something as important as the old train station?

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He has served as mayor of Kamloops, school board chair and TNRD director, and is a retired newspaper editor. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 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 – Design for new building beside old train station is out of place

  1. Station Plaza is a junk building and the landscaping around it is trashed. Maybe a “box” with windows is illuminating. And what about the “obbrobrio” decided by the “brains” at City Hall towering the roundabout at Lorne and Third?
    It all connects the disconnect..

  2. I totally agee with you as well. It is a standard, no personality building , completely out of step with the area. It would have been a perfect opportunity to create a building that would complement the railway heritage of the area. Our city, unfortunately doe s not embrace its heritage so I can see why the planners got away with this sad example of architectural drivel.

  3. Sheila Park // April 27, 2023 at 9:39 AM // Reply

    Thank you Mel.
    The building going up the corner of
    Columbia and 1st is another prime example. (Hmmm I can imagine the taggers gleefully awaiting the completion of the canary walk).
    I am also imagining the 23 story building and I believe a 22 story building in the 400 block between Battle and Nicola.
    Please no more parking variances unless it is to build MORE spots than they need.

  4. Arleen Simmonds // April 27, 2023 at 7:54 AM // Reply

    Totally agree with you Mel. The design for the new building is totally out of context and in my opinion an eyesore.

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