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Kamloops homeless outreach centre may be deemed 'nuisance' property by City

The Loop drop-in centre at 405 Tranquille Road in Kamloops is pictured in this Google Street View image.
May 27, 2021 - 1:00 PM

The Loop outreach centre was recently allocated $31,000 in federal funding by a City of Kamloops committee, but today, they are at risk of being deemed a "nuisance property."

The additional money came from a surplus left over in the federal government's homelessness strategy fund, Reaching Home, which allowed The Loop on Tranquille Road to increase service hours and hire more employees for outreach work, according to site coordinator Glenn Hilke.

But after that funding was given and encampments were cleaned along the river, their clientele doubled, and led the city to discuss dropping "nuisance property" fines on the outreach facility.

When the nuisance label was placed on Columbia corridor motels, the fines and crime reduction tactics were a response to crime at those businesses, but Councillor Dale Bass says that isn't the case for The Loop.

READ MORE: 'Our streets are not safe': Kamloops business association calls for criminal accountability

"A lot of this is people's perceptions. A lot of people are afraid when they see people who are homeless," Bass said. "There's theft, but we don't know who's doing it."

She wasn't able to point to specific instances of crime, but says there is often open drug use outside the building at 405A Tranquille Road. She often gets complaints from constituents about The Loop.

Hilke, though, is disappointed at the reactions from both community and business leaders.

READ MORE: Formerly homeless youth in Kamloops calls out 'short-term' solutions

"This is what we get for doing our job. The problem is that one single negative phone call must be addressed," he said. "They don't like that so many people are congregating around The Loop, but they asked us to do exactly that and extend our hours. We've been successful doing that — getting people into shelters and motel rooms."

If The Loop falls into nuisance property status, it will, according to Bass, be given a timeline to address crime prevention tactics at their facility. If they fail to do that, The Loop will face daily fines until the issues found by Community Services are addressed.

"I think that Glenn needs to stop and decide what he needs to do beyond feeding people," Bass said. "The thing that worries me is that someone's going to get hurt. Someone's going to have their bike stolen or house broken into for the last time. Somebody's gonna snap. I'm required to make sure he follows all the rules."

She couldn't, however, address exactly what needs to change to avoid becoming a "nuisance" to the business area.

The North Shore Business Improvement Association recently issued a press release to clarify their support for The Loop.

"We see that the extension of hours has led to a significant disruption of our business district and caused further negative stigma and safety concerns amongst residents and business owners," the news release reads.

READ MORE: Kamloops restaurant owners back in the kitchen after break-in

While they endorsed The Loop's efforts to extend their hours, the business association announced they will seek "alternate options" for street related issues.

Bass expressed frustrations with the coordination of provincial services, like B.C. Housing, with health services and community outreach organizations.

While the city moves to address the issues at The Loop, there's still no progress on city-led efforts to have a detox facility created, increased Car 40 presence, or fill the new city position for an employee dedicated to coordinating those services.

"Everybody wants to help homeless people, but no one wants a shelter in their neighbourhood," Bass said. "Glenn's filling a gap, but it's still scaring people. People are afraid of that demographic because they don't get it."

READ MORE: One year on, the COVID Meal Train stays on track in Kamloops

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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