TRU going ahead with camp-style student housing on campus; city says concerns addressed

Camp housing on campus

UPDATE: 3:19 p.m.

Safety concerns the City of Kamloops had with a previous Thompson Rivers University plan to build temporary camp-style student housing on campus are not an issue with the university's latest plan to erect modular dorms.

The city's building and engineering development manager Jason Dixon said staff has reviewed a building permit application submitted by TRU to install modular housing units on campus, and are now waiting for final clarification from the university before moving forward with issuing a permit.

TRU announced Monday it started installing the units last week. Applications from students are being accepted with a move-in date of Jan. 8, but the city said a building permit has not yet been issued.

Dixon said city staff reviewed the building permit application and met with university representatives last week to go over the information and request a couple more details.

“Based on our previous conversation, we're close enough that we might not have the last bits of info we need to issue a permit, I'm not concerned that we're going to be in a place where we can't issue one,” Dixon said.

He said he wasn’t aware that the university had begun installing these particular units, but said moving forward on construction without proper permits “does happen from time to time.”

“We're at the end, and just sorting out the last details of things with their consultants and making sure the last bits make sense. It's more of just a timing thing as opposed to if we could even possibly issue a permit,” he said.

"Earlier in the year, that original application, there were a lot of bigger items that we had to address, but we’ve worked through most of that now.”

In September, the City of Kamloops rejected a proposal from the university to install modular housing, saying the planned units did not conform to the BC Building Code. Dixon said any concerns previously held by the city have since been addressed.

“The units themselves from an outward appearance will look more or less the same as what they'd originally proposed, it was more technical features of the code that we're trying to make sure that they're built to,” Dixon said.

He said the modular units are built as a relocatable construction camp for use in Alberta, and the city is working with the university to ensure appropriate changes are made to make the units suitable for student housing.


Thompson Rivers University is moving forward with plans for temporary modular units on campus to be used for student housing, but building permits for the project have yet to be issued, according to the city.

The university said in a statement the installation of the modular units began on Thursday. Applications for the 114 rooms — which are located in a parking lot on the corner of McGill Road and University Drive, west of the Tournament Capital Centre — are being accepted as of Monday.

“We know students are struggling to find a place to live due to exceptional circumstances that have stressed the Kamloops housing supply,” Warren Asuchak, associate vice president for campus infrastructure, sustainability and ancillary services said in a statement.

“Using an underused parking lot is a good allocation of our land resources to help address the need for more student accommodations and TRU thanks the City of Kamloops for supporting this temporary solution.”

According to the university website, a $100 non-refundable application fee is required in order for International or domestic students to apply for the units, named the West Gate Dormitories, which TRU says will be ready by Jan. 8.

A self-contained private room with a washroom will cost students $2,000 for the winter semester and $2,400 for the summer semester.

The university website contains payment instructions for students and other details — including photos — of the interior of the units. Rooms come with a bed, a desk, a dresser, and a TV.

The university said the housing will be in place until April 2023 and may be extended until December 2023.

City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin told Castanet on Monday this was the first he had heard of the university offering the temporary accommodations to students for occupancy in January.

Trawin said TRU has submitted a building permit application to the city, but to his knowledge, the city hasn’t issued the permit yet.

“We're still waiting for information from them. And we still haven't approved any of their plans on modular dormitories,” Trawin said, adding that he will need to follow up with the university to get more details on this new development.

In September, the City of Kamloops denied a request from TRU to set up temporary student housing portables as the units proposed at the time did not meet B.C. Building Code requirements.

At the time, City of Kamloops CAO David Trawin said approving the university’s request to install the portables would be an “unacceptable level of risk” for students and the city, as the proposed units did not meet code standards for fire alarm systems, fire separations, fire department access routes or proximity to fire hydrants, among other factors.

In a closed meeting, city council had voted to require TRU to apply for a building permit and meet BC Building Code requirements for the proposed housing units.

Castanet Kamloops has requested to speak with a representative from TRU for more details on the modular housing units.

This story will be updated as more information is known.

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