North Shore BIA launches survey to address safety concerns

By James Peters
August 22, 2017 - 1:54pm Updated: August 22, 2017 - 5:32pm

KAMLOOPS — The Kamloops North Shore Business Improvement Association says it wants to compile some data to speak to countless stories of people feeling unsafe in the Tranquille business corridor.

The organization has launched a survey of its membership in an effort to better lobby for resources to tackle the problem.

Executive Director Steven Puhallo says one pocket of the business corridor has been a particular hot spot this summer.

"In the south end of the Tranquille Market corridor, in and around 177 Tranquille and where Mac's is, our merchants are just feeling overrun," said Puhallo. "They feel like there is no safety on the street, and they're fighting it daily."

Resources were brought in to address a similar issue last summer, but Puhallo says it seems to have returned with a vengeance this year.

He believes the problem is caused by those with drug dependency and mental health issues, and the criminals who prey on them.

"We had one business in that area say they had someone come in and crap in the middle of their business, and then try and pee on the cash register. They were out of their mind on something, and then (the business) had to manage that," said Puhallo.

"We had another business who had customers not come into their business because there was someone sitting on the front porch with a needle in their arm, passed out. Those are really intensive complaints we're trying to deal with here. So what we want to do is get a bigger picture."

The survey is meant to help inform the work of the City of Kamloops Co-ordinated Enforcement Task Force and local social agencies.

"There's a lot of great work going on behind the scenes," said Puhallo. "But right now, we're just feeling like the water is over our heads in that specific area, and we want to see whether or not that problem is bigger than we know, less than we know, and what actually is going on. That's where the survey comes in."

"We want to get a really clear picture of what's going on and how we can help prevent it in the future, and try and get some stuff going on in the street level right now to help ease down a lot of the problems that are merchants are talking to us about."

Puhallo concedes the North Shore has long had a perception problem that has manifested itself in some as a form of bigotry against the neighbourhood. He says the situation in the 100-block of Tranquille Road this summer isn't helping that perception.

"We want to make sure this is something where people say, 'Oh, that's the North Shore, it's grimy.' It's not. It's a beautiful place to live, it's a beautiful place to do business. It's a really great community, but we do have that one critical mass happening in that one area and we want to see whether it's spread throughout the North Shore business area, or if it's that one part, and what the actual problems are, and what people feel the response has been from authorities and service providers."

Emergency reception centre likely to shut down Sept. 6 or sooner