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Following fires, more security at City Gardens site

Two vacant homes were set ablaze in recent weeks
house fire 400 Nicola St Feb 5 22jpg
This house downtown at Nicola Street and Fourth Avenue is slated for demolition as part of the City Gardens development. The house went up in flames on Feb. 5, 2022, but firefighters managed to douse the blaze.

Kelson Group has increased security following fires that broke out in two vacant houses in the block between on Nicola and Battle streets and Fourth and Fifth avenues, houses that were set for demolition as part of the City Gardens residential development project.

In the early-morning hours of Saturday, Feb. 5, flames erupted in a vacant home at the corner of Nicola and Fourth, across from St. Paul’s Cathedral. The blaze in the two-storey house with a large front porch that swung around back was one of two attended to by firefighters that weekend. Another fire on Friday evening (Feb. 4) was douses at the former Red Sea Auto dealership lot at 156 Tranquille Rd. in North Kamloops.

On Jan. 28, there was also a fire in a vacant house on Fifth Avenue, between Battle and Nicola streets.

Kelson Group vice-president Kelly Fawcett said the developer already had security in place for the downtown development location. However, he said site fencing has since been added around the private property to prevent people from trespassing and security has increased from periodic property checks by staff to full-time overnight surveillance.

“It just wasn’t enough,” Fawcett said. “People are kicking in doors now and breaking in. We’ve been chasing people off, even throughout the day here. People are coming in and trying to break into things.”

Big Horn Security started full-time onsite after the fire. Security will be in place for as long as there is possibility for people to break into the vacant homes, Fawcett said.

“If there are houses standing, there will be evening security,” he said.

Fawcett said demolition is expected to be completed in two months. He said two houses are still occupied.

An excavation permit is expected in March or April and construction of the large underground parkade will follow shortly afterward. It is expected to be completed within a year or 18 months. The first City Gardens building will then begin construction.

The development will include two high-rise and four lower-rise buildings, with more than 500 units expected to be added to the downtown core.

“Probably two-and-a-half to three years before the first occupants are moving in,” Fawcett said.