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Kamloops mayor's torched SUV sold for scrap by city

Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson's burnt-out SUV was towed and sold for salvage by the City he was elected to lead.

Kamloops mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson's burned-out SUV was sold for scraps, and the city got the cash.

That's because he's indebted for the tow bill and the storage after it was forcibly removed from his downtown auto dealership.

Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc deemed the SUV a fire hazard and when Hamer-Jackson wouldn't take it off the property, the city had it towed away in December. A month-and-a-half later it was sold for salvage.

"We followed our standard process, we gave them a timeframe," Uzeloc said. "It was all according to the bylaw and our authority under the (Community) Charter."

The mayor said he didn't know it was sold.

Hamer-Jackson's SUV was once parked at his downtown used vehicle dealership, where it was torched the first time in October 2022 and again a year later. 

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Uzeloc ordered it to be removed because it was a fire hazard, but he noted it had also become an "attractant" for trespassers.

The mayor was initially sent a 30-day warning with a two-week extension because he was in Mexico for some weeks, having left the same day the SUV was towed. 

With no payment for the tow and storage fees, the deadline passed before February.

Hamer-Jackson has maintained for months the vehicle, a blue Pontiac Torrent, was not a fire hazard, while pointing out he made attempts to cover it with tarps in the time between the first fire in October 2022 to when it was towed after 14 months and another arson.

"Somebody has to light a fire for something to be a fire hazard," he said. "Somebody has to trespass to light a fire on the property. Somebody has to steal the tarp. Somebody has to vandalize the vehicle. It's all crimes."

He also continued to say he left the torched vehicle on his property because it could still be sold.

But he told others he was "making a point" by leaving the remains of two suspected arsons at his downtown business, according to neighbouring business owners.

He relented when pressed on the comment, admitting to leaving the SUV as a symbol for crime in the city.

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"I don't think it was that so much. I mean, I wouldn't say that," he said when the comment was first put to him. "I guess what I would say is that I believe no matter where we are in Kamloops, we should be able to have a vehicle parked on our lot."

He went on to say it was about crime and social issues in the city all along, which was central to his campaign when he was elected as mayor in October 2022, just days before the first fire.

"We need to go to the root cause of the problem," he said. "I'm not the problem, Riversyde Auto, Spoke 'n' Motion isn't the problem... the problem we have to deal with is addictions and mental health."

Uzeloc said the city could not reveal the cost of the tow, the storage or the salvage payout because of privacy policies.

Hamer-Jackson said did not know the total because he hasn't seen an invoice from the city.

Whatever the outstanding amount is, it's considered a debt and will be applied to the property taxes on his business this year, reduced by the salvage payout.

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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