KCBIA's Pooler steps down as downtown development advances

By Chad Klassen
November 3, 2017 - 4:38pm Updated: November 3, 2017 - 5:29pm

KAMLOOPS — After the North Shore Business Improvement Association leader Steven Puhallo resigning last month, the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association is in transition as well. 

General Manager Gay Pooler announced on Friday she'll be leaving her role in February. But the President of the KCBIA Mike O'Reilly says it comes at a time when the downtown has promise for the future with commercial and residential development either proposed or already underway. 

"If you look at the announcements in the last two months of development happening downtown, with a brand new six-storey office building. Just in the last three weeks, we've had 750 new residential units being built in the downtown core. We can't be in a better position than what we are now."

For those who are critical of downtown development, O'Reilly says it takes time for projects to come to life. 

"The CAP Team, that did not happen overnight, over two years. That was five or six years," notes O'Reilly. "The revitalization tax exemption. That was eight years in the working, and that was Gay pounding and pounding, and the board trying to get our vision. It's not a three-year election cycle. She was there to continue on with multiple councillors."

On the same day Pooler announced she's leaving it was Steven Puhallo's final hours as executive director of the North Shore Business Improvement Association - a job he did for four years and a job he felt he did well, achieving everything he wanted. 

"When you get to the point where you're like 'wow, I've done everything that I've planned to do, it's done, up and running,' then you look around and say 'what's my next challenge?'" says Puhallo. 

Puhallo is starting up an online gaming company called Cowboy Gaming. In the meantime, he'll be involved in helping hire the next executive director, who he says will face certain challenges.

"They're going to be tested this spring when we have the 'not so nice' people come through. We've been clear, we're not talking about people who need services or want services. We're talking about the ones who pray upon them," notes Puhallo. "We ran into that very hard when we had entire street-level populations transferred from other communities here during the fires."

But Puhallo says there are parts of the North Shore that are thriving.

"We had a horrible summer for one specific part of our market area, commercial areas. The rest are doing great, and that's a hard thing for us to say and to define out there," he says. "Brocklehurst Shopping Centre, booming. Fortune Shopping Centre, doing really well. Northhills Centre, doing really well. The majority of the Tranquille Market Corridor, doing really well."

Aside from a few problem spots, Puhallo feels he's set up his successor well. On the South Shore, there's a level of excitement about future growth. 

"This has been years in the making to get us here. We're very excited for the coming years." 

Conservative Science and Technology critic visits Kamloops Innovation Centre