New head of downtown Kamloops business group expects big things - InfoNews

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New head of downtown Kamloops business group expects big things

March 17, 2017 - 9:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - The new president of the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association says 2017 will be a break out year for the city’s core and is calling out one of the association critics for causing a roadblock for vibrancy.

Mike O’Reilly, the owner of downtown’s Motivo Coffee and new president of the business association, is expecting the coming year will be big, with years of work paying off and major developments breaking ground.

“We’re kind of going through a transition phase, but the systems that have been worked on for the past three of four years are finally coming to fruition,” O’Reilly says. “There’s just going to be so much development happening downtown. That’s not even including the B.C. Lottery Corporation and what happens with the Kamloops Daily News site.”

He expects up to 200 more residential units to be started in the downtown neighbourhood by the end of the year, and new commercial projects currently under wraps to be announced.

“There are a couple of new office projects on the books that I expect to be announced later this year,” he says. “A new office building is being built downtown, which hasn’t happened in a very long time.”

Recent criticism of the city's core from Coun. Denis Walsh wasn’t helpful, he says, especially as Walsh voted against a downtown residential project.

“We find it very difficult when a specific councillor calls out the downtown for not being vibrant, yet he was the only councillor that voted against a property,” O’Reilly says.

Walsh says he generally supports downtown developments and densification, but opposed one development in the downtown because it had too many variances.

“There’s reasonable density and there’s questionable density,” he says. “(City planners were) catering to the developers, not the established neighbourhood.”

O’Reilly hopes to combat negative stories about the core with more communication about the goings on downtown. He also cites a lack of reporting on new businesses opening as a problem.

“We haven’t been as proactive in the media with what we’re doing, so we’re going to be more open,” he says. “We just haven’t been letting people know the good things happening downtown.”

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