In the middle of it all

The name Kamloops comes from an anglicized form of the indigenous language Suswap word “Tk’emlups”, which means “meeting of the waters”, referring to the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers. Kamloops, B.C. is certainly a meeting spot. Located between Calgary and Vancouver, Kamloops is a popular transportation hub in the region because of its connections to major highway routes, railways and Canada’s two major airlines.

Kamloops’ vital role in the commerce and logistics in Western Canada has been very beneficial for the city—its geographic advantage as an important stop over is making it a destination of choice for business and outdoorsmen alike.

Businesses drawn to tax exemption zones

Mayor Peter Milobar sees Kamloops’ growth and believes the way to continue to attract business to the city is to create attractive tax environments. 2009 and 2010 were very strong years, with Kamloops showing near record building permits and very strong house values, something Milobar expects to continue. In order to facilitate these expectations, Milobar and city council are “initiating revitalization-tax exemption zones” focusing on three projects: downtown revitalization, the North Shore development and Heritage Resources program.

These exemptions are working: construction activity in Kamloops is at its highest levels of the past 10 years with $2 billion of resort residential projects currently in progress. Milobar also says already the two significant developments in both of the city’s commercial zone are a direct result of these exemptions and hopes they will continue to strengthen business viability, stimulate new private investment and attract higher density mixed use building. “We have undertaken an overview of our industrial lands and identifying areas and are talking to stakeholders about further industrial land created and we are moving forward on that in 2011.”

Housing boom

Milobar also credits Kamloops’ low interest rates and increased demand for homes for the city’s reputation as a great place to work and live.

Because of the global demand for industries in the area such as construction materials and mining and manufacturing (more than 125 fabrication and manufacturing companies operate in the Kamloops area). There are over 25 trucking and transport companies that ship goods across B.C., Canada and the regional United States.

More and more businesses are settling into Kamloops and employees are staying for the quality of life and affordable cost of living. “We have a very stable climate and stable industry on top of that,” says Milobar. “We have several mines in the area and majority of workforces lives in our city. The pulp mill has been very stable, and expanded its customer base. We have a very diverse economy in that respect.”

Kamloops is also the medical centre for the region, with the Royal Inland Hospital being the primary acute care health facility in the area. Thompson Rivers University is the biggest educational centre in the area as well, with one of the country’s largest distance education programs. All these factors—schools, hospitals, diverse industry—makes for a thriving, sustainable and prosperous community.

But don’t take our word on it. Ask the close to 100,000 residents who make Kamloops home. Kamloops is “very much an outdoorsmen paradise,” says Milobar. In the winter, there is world-class cross country skiing, ice fishing and skiing practically in Kamloops’ backyard, and the summer sees mass exodus to the golf courses and 200 fishing lakes within an hour drive.

The Kamloops trout

Fishing is big business in Kamloops, the city boasting its own species of trout—the Kamloops trout, similar to a Rainbow trout. “The City of Kamloops is world renowned within the angling world,” says Milobar, who points to the fact that Kamloops has a giant monument to its trout.

For many cities, holding the World Fly Fishing Championships would have been the biggest date on the tournament calendar, but not so for Kamloops, which hosts so many successful tournaments year-round that it’s been given the distinction of being the “Tournament Capital of Canada”.

“For a city of our size, we hold the best tournament possible,” says Milobar. “In the past six months, we’ve held national and international championships all the way from track to swimming to basketball, and it’s ongoing.”

To accommodate these tournaments, the city has created state-of-the-art sporting facilities, the centre piece of which is Tournament Capital Centre, which includes a full indoor track and gym attached to an Olympic-sized pool. This November, the centre exceeded one million visitors, an exceptional feat that speaks to its importance in the community. Not only contributing to the cultural community, the centre runs about $600,000 profit per annum, funds which are reallocated into the community.

Municipal foresight and business acumen, natural beauty and recreational activities put Kamloops on the map. It’s no wonder all roads lead to Kamloops.