MMA business leaving Kamloops's North Shore, feel 'terrorized' | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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MMA business leaving Kamloops's North Shore, feel 'terrorized'

Natalie Wood (left) and her husband Chad Freeman own a business on the North Shore in Kamloops. They are considering moving to a new location due to criminal activity and open drug use in the area.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Chad Freeman
August 05, 2021 - 7:00 AM

Ongoing criminal activity and open drug use on Kamloops's North Shore is causing a family-owned business to look for a new location.

BOA BJJ MMA has been in its location on Tranquille Road for over five years. Owners Natalie Wood and Chad Freeman said they are fed up with dealing with crime and cleaning up after drug users, and the time and cost of moving are worth it for them.

“We feel terrorized here,” Wood said. “We have to clean excrement and litter from our doorways regularly. There are people on the street openly smoking meth and using heroin. There are constant emergency vehicles out front dealing with overdoses.”

Wood said many of their clients are children and youth, and she runs women-only classes throughout the week. She wants to ensure her clients are safe yet she no longer feels safe herself.

“Our youngest clients are four and five years old,” she said. “Recently a person who was in a drug-induced psychosis came into our building and ran around a kids’ class. It really scared them. I have to lock myself in when I am cleaning because I am afraid of being alone in the building.”

Wood said she believes the issues are due to a lack of enforcing criminal justice.

“There is a blind eye being turned to crime,” she said. “I am all for supporting the homeless and marginalized and I want to see them get real help, but at some point we need protection for our citizens and businesses. There seems to be no consequences to breaking the law and terrorizing neighbourhoods. We teach our children to have empathy and respect, but what about empathy and respect for hardworking people and business owners?”

Wood said they found a potential new location on Seymour Street, but after some research, they discovered the situation downtown is very similar.

“We found out the parking lot there is a gathering area at the hours we are open so it will not be safe there either,” she said. “We decided against anywhere downtown. We can’t afford Aberdeen or Sahali, so we are going to look at the reserve. It is only a matter of time before someone is going to get injured, it is not worth businesses staying here.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 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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