You may have heard about a new development proposal for the Tranquille area, on the western edge of the City boundary. The development is on the north side of the Thompson River where it has its outlet with Kamloops Lake. The property straddles the mouth of Tranquille River. The proponent’s website is here.
You can see from the master plan sketch (above) that a significant new housing development of 1,500 units has been planned. This development footprint covers about 51 ha of land, some of which is ‘redeveloping’ the old Tranquille sanitorium footprint, but also involves a significant conversion of farmland into housing.
A number of groups such as the Kamloops Food Policy Council, Kamloops Naturalist Club, and Grasslands Conservation Council have written letters of concern to the Agricultural Land Commission. So can you! See the instructions below on how to send in your comments as well as the list of concerns that have been raised about this project by various community members.
Send your letter as an attachment in an e-mail to Ron.Wallace@gov.bc.ca using the subject “Application ID 60509 submission”. The physical address to be used in the letter itself is:
Agricultural Land Commission
201 – 4940 Canada Way
Burnaby, BC, Canada
On February 21, 2021, a conference call was attended by a diverse mix of community members and organizations, including Transition Kamloops. Below is the list of concerns about the proposal that was raised during the meeting, grouped by topic. While individuals and groups highlighted various different potential areas of impact during the meeting, they share the belief that the project, as proposed, would detract from the social, ecological, historical, and agricultural values of the area, while failing to properly address and understand the issue of indigenous title and rights.
- General Concerns
- Most of the info out there is from the developer. There is a need to develop an independent narrative.
- We need to move quickly, prior to major money being put into consultation by the developer. Each permit secured is a building block for the developer.
- The water application (to use groundwater for the development) provides the first opportunity to object to the development. Without water, the project stops.
- Natural Area issues
- Tranquille Creek is salmon-bearing and requires a high level of protection. Placer mining and the irrigation dam installed to water orchards has already negatively impacted the salmon population.
- The proposal will cause a serious loss of habitat in an area of huge ecological importance to wildlife (birds and snakes). Farming is more accommodating to indigenous species than single-family homes.
- Increased traffic will increase human / wildlife accidents.
- There is no Environmental Impact Assessment required for the area, despite high values and park adjacency
- The heritage value of the area is unique on a global scale. Secwepemc people have continuously occupied the area from 7500 years ago, and likely back to end of the last Ice Age, and into the contact period. Unusual for a site of this importance, the archeological record is relatively intact.
- When the first iteration of this proposal came up in the early 2000s, they were obliged to do an Archeological Impact Assessment, and a very cursory one was done.
- Historical activities include hunting, fishing, plant-gathering and processing, and also births, deaths, and burial ceremonies.
- This was one of Kamloops’ major urban centres, with population in the thousands.
- The development as proposed is absolutely incompatible with heritage protection and indigenous rights.
- Archeological permitting and heritage permitting will be required.
- The removal of an additional 51 hectares from the Agricultural Land Reserve is being requested, to make way for 3000 people.
- The agricultural potential of the site is massive, with the top two classes of agricultural-rated lands (70% Class 1, and 30% Class 2). With only 5% of BC suitable for agriculture, and only 1% of that land being class 1 & 2 soils, the ALC has a critical role in protecting BC’s agricultural land resources.
- Vineyards do not contribute to food security.
- When this land was sold, the current footprint was seen as the development potential. Now, the need for reclamation and the high cost of taking down buildings is being used as a reason to get more land out of the ALR.
- The Grasslands Conservation Council has written to the Agricultural Land Commission with their concerns.
- First Nations
- It is important to acknowledge that the development is on unceded Secwepemc territory.
- The ability to exercise aboriginal hunting and fishing rights in the area is paramount
- The Province, individual Ministries and the City have new obligations under UNDRIP, through the Declaration Act. The developer believes they only need to satisfy 2010 requirements and is completely ignorant of the larger implications
- The developer is using the conversations/consultations with SSN as a selling point to further the development, even though the SSN is not in favour of the proposal.
- The developer is offering First Nations minor consideration, and asking that the pace of development not be slowed.
- Public access to beaches needs protection.
- The carbon footprint of the proposal and the obvious sprawl is in direct conflict with the goals of the Official Community Plan.
- Traffic will increase to service residents, and no transit will be available.
- The type of development itself, an isolated pod of suburban development, is outdated and unsustainable .
- Future consideration
- Development on the site should never expand beyond the current footprint of what is actively being used for food production. The City of Kamloops should go up, not out.
- The entire Tranquille area could be designated a heritage conservation area, especially where archaeological remains have been found (village sites), and along the Tranquille River (the riparian corridor), as well as along the route of the Hudson’s Bay Company brigade trail in the gully along the Tranquille-Criss Creek Road. (This trail is pre-1846 so is protected under the Provincial Heritage Conservation Act, although it has not been accurately located).
- There is potential for purchase by the Province for park designation or First Nations reconciliation.
A new vision supported by the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation and the larger community of Kamloops is required. Urban agriculture, tourism, wilderness and wetland conservation, and a cultural heritage site have been mentioned — all of which could be accommodated without increasing the current development footprint. It’s time for us to think beyond traditional stereotypes of land development before this precious piece of property is irrevocably changed.
Update: The developer, Ignition Tranquille Developments Inc., has responded to the concerns listed on this page via a blog post.