Kamloops slaps The Loop with more fines | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops slaps The Loop with more fines


A volunteer-run service for the homeless was recently hit with its biggest fine yet from the City of Kamloops.

At 405A Tranquille Road, The Loop can't seem to stop collecting "nuisance" fines from the City, this time $960 for six fire calls attributed to the organization.

The fines are levied on the owner of the building rather than the non-profit running the service and have now reached more than $4,000.

A letter to the landlord lists the "excess service calls" from Dec. 25, 2022, to Jan. 24. They can include RCMP, bylaws or Kamloops Fire Rescue, but this fine was for six "burning violations."

Fire chief Ken Uzeloc likened the fines to false alarms at a business. If a security system repeatedly prompts emergency calls, a business can be warned and eventually fined if it continues, he said.

He also said the fire department doesn't decide whether The Loop would be fined for their calls, but he does consult with other City staff on which properties may be taking up a disproportionate amount of services.

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Glenn Hilke, The Loop's service coordinator, is increasingly frustrated by the ongoing fines and said the recent fire calls were likely due to people who were trying to keep warm after normal operating hours, which Uzeloc also acknowledged. 

"The burning violations correspond to the last two or three extreme weather conditions we had," Hilke said. "The shelters were full. There are some people who are not allowed in shelters or won't go. People gravitate to where services are because they feel safe there, so people were making small, little fires."

He said the fires he learned about were so small that firefighters didn't have to use water to put them out. While it's not something he condones, the fires were overnight when no one was staffing The Loop's building. He also said the organization won't pay for 24/7 security to monitor the area.

Hilke provided a copy of the City's letter, dated Jan. 31, to iNFOnews.ca. It's not clear who called in each of the burning complaints.

"The fire trucks are visiting all over the city. They're visiting on City property. They're down by the river where people are making campfires," Hilke said.

It's not clear whether The Loop had more fires on its property than other commercial areas, but Uzeloc told iNFOnews.ca his crews have responded to small fires "all over the city" this winter, including business areas and along riverbanks.

The Loop was getting increasing pressure from the City to deal with the growing number of homeless clients on their property in May 2021, while The Loop was running a pilot project with City-directed funds. The landlord has been periodically fined since then, but it has varied by month and amount.

It's not clear whether The Loop was designated as a nuisance property at that time and had it later removed, but the letter says a "designation" was "assigned" on July 12, 2022. Despite what the letter reads, a City spokesperson told iNFOnews.ca last week there is no list of properties with a nuisance designation.

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"There is no list that a property gets added to or process to appeal the 'designation.' This is a common misconception," the statement reads. "If we see compliance, we don’t issue fees."

The Loop got its newest and steepest nuisance fine from the City of Kamloops on Jan. 31, 2023.
The Loop got its newest and steepest nuisance fine from the City of Kamloops on Jan. 31, 2023.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Glenn Hilke

There is a process to appeal the individual fines, but for now, the landlord has until March 2 to pay up.

The Loop has fewer calls to Kamloops Fire Rescue than some of the local shelters and supportive housing sites in 2021 and 2022. It does, however, have a vastly disproportionate number of bylaw calls directed to 405A Tranquille Road.

In a two-year period, The Loop accumulated 209 bylaw calls, according to City of Kamloops data obtained by iNFOnews.ca. The other properties included in the freedom of information request only had 12 or fewer.

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"The most important thing to point out is that calls to 911 for fire, police, or medical emergencies are not nuisance calls and are not related to (the bylaw). These are important services and we don’t want people not calling 911 for fear of fees, etc.," an emailed statement from the City on Feb. 2 reads.

The fines are issued through the City's "Good Neighbour" bylaw, meant to ensure property owners find ways to lessen the number of service calls they get. If a property gets too many calls, especially when they aren't emergencies, they risk a fine.

"Facilities that provide housing or services to vulnerable populations — such as seniors or people with complex health needs— are expected to have a higher number of emergency calls due to the nature of their clientele," the statement continues.

Hilke has suggested appealing The Loop's ongoing fines before, but it's not clear what the organization or the landlord will do about their largest-ever "nuisance" fee.

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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