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Tenant struggles with theft, deplorable conditions at city-owned Kamloops hotel

The city-owned Northbridge Hotel at 377 Tranquille Road.

It didn't take long for Jacent Kusch's Christmas gifts to be swiped from his suite at the Northbridge Hotel.

Kusch lives alone in the hotel building, where the door has not been able to lock for weeks, allowing others to move in and out freely. His father bought him a new watch and a cell phone for Christmas, but they were stolen from his suite just days after Dec. 25.

Kusch's father, Doug Kusch, has been trying to work with the building managers and the city to have repairs done in his son's third floor suite, but well into January, he's yet to hear back. 

"I was very optimistic (when the city purchased it). With the city owning it, I knew they wouldn't have people living in conditions like that," Doug Kusch said.

Along with the broken lock, the window in Jacent's room is broken. Doug said the sink has also broken after a couple had sex on it over a month ago.

The Northbridge Hotel at 377 Tranquille Rd., currently owned by the city of Kamloops, and the plan is for the property to become a market housing development once the tenants have been moved. The city announced the purchase in October, which included a large lot behind the aging hotel that is planned to be the site of a B.C. Housing development.

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The $7 million purchase came with a promise from Mayor Ken Christian that the residents who were living there would not be evicted, but the city had no plans to rent the suites if tenants left.

Local non-profit Ask Wellness Society manages the building on behalf of the city, but they were only contracted on an interim basis until the city found a new operator. Ask Wellness does not plan on continuing operation of the building once their contract expires in February.

Jacent has been living in a suite at the Northbridge Hotel for months now, where he moved to after a brief stint at a rehab centre for drug use.

"I help him out as much as I can, but I'm on a pension myself now, and now I'm going to have to go back to work to keep him alive," Doug said. "I just want him to have a little bit of a living there."

Doug said his son lives with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and he uses fentanyl, and although he still tries to help his son as much as he can, a court order limits contact they can have together.

The court order is for Doug's safety, who lives in Vernon, but he still tries to see Jacent when he can in an effort to support him.

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Doug has been contacting the city and building management in an effort to find out if all tenants pay the same amount.

According to Doug, Jacent pays roughly $900 per month for his rent, but the lack of repairs leaves him questioning what the rent is paying for.

"I've paid for TV down there at least three or four times, and he's never gotten cable," Doug said.

Jacent has a criminal history, but he also has a history of stays at rehab facilities. In 2020, he was staying with a Lower Mainland facility. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, along with public health orders, confusion between whether he could leave the facility or not to pick up medications ended with his eviction from the facility, as he was wrongly told he was allowed to leave, according to Doug. Due to public health orders, Jacent came to learn that he was not permitted to leave the facility.

Doug said it's difficult for a user like his son to recover from his addiction at facilities with such strict rules, especially after kicking him out with "just a nickel in his pocket."

The Northbridge Hotel purchase is a contentious subject in the city, and the building is known to attract criminal activity.

Most recently, drugs and weapons were seized from a suite when RCMP assisted in evicting tenants from one of the suites.

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After a locksmith gained entry to the unoccupied room and movers began packing the remaining property inside, they discovered suspected fentanyl, stolen license plates, ammunition, a spiked extendable baton and what appeared to be a homemade revolver, according to a report issued by the RCMP.

“It was clear that some nefarious things were happening in that unit and it was compromising other residents’ safety,” Ask Wellness executive director Bob Hughes said, but noted the vast majority of people in the building are looking for a place to live and are good tenants.

City of Kamloops real estate manager Dave Freeman could not be reached for comment.

— This story was corrected at 1:23 p.m., Jan. 12, 2022, to clarify the court order between Jacent and Doug Kusch limits their contact, and to clarify why Jacent was removed from the Lower Mainland rehab facility in 2020.

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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