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Kamloops CAP Team to be shorthanded in 2023

Downtown Kamloops group needs to find $60,000 to make the team whole again
The Customer Care and Patrol Team has been a visible part of downtown for many years, including this 2013 iteration of the squad.

The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association (KCBIA) is looking to bridge a gap in funding for its Customer Care and Patrol (CAP) Team.

The program involves people working as downtown ambassadors, directing and assisting tourists and helping the homeless.

But six summer positions out of a desired team of 10 are now at risk of being axed due to the federal Canada Summer Jobs program (CSJ) no longer recognizing the business improvement association as a non-profit.

KCBIA executive director Howie Reimer said the association applied to the program for $60,000 to fund the six jobs at $18 per hour over 16 weeks, but the CSJ will only permit funding half of minimum wage ($7.50) over eight weeks.

“That wasn’t factored into our budget this year,” Reimer said.

Two members of the team are funded year-round through the City of Kamloops, which also covers the cost of hiring two more members for the busy months of May to September.

Any additional CAP team members hired during those months have historically been covered via the CSJ, but, according to Reimer, these dollars from Service Canada have been shrinking over the past couple of years.

Last year, the KCBIA applied to the CSJ for $77,000 to cover seven positions for 16 weeks. The KCBIA, however, was only able to find three employees and the CSJ returned an offer of eight weeks’ worth of funding. The KCBIA ended up covering the remaining two-month funding shortfall to Labour Day using reserve funds — a reserve it does not have this year.

“It’s not a great spot to be in, but we’ll still have summer CAP,” Reimer said.

One funding alternative the KCBIA is exploring is a suggestion from Coun. Mike O’Reilly that the association seek out businesses to sponsor the team.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for someone. The CAP team is very visible,” Reimer said.

Another option could be to take what the CSJ will give and ask the city to fill in the funding gap, Reimer said.

The KCBIA is also considering grant funding through Open Door Group and WorkBC alongside the North Shore Business Improvement Association in order to fund the program. Reimer said the goal this year is to have CAP members covering both the downtown and North Shore areas.

Whichever way is chosen, Reimer said they need to act fast.

“We’re just days away from spring,” he said.

He noted the CAP Team is important in serving tourists and often hosts games, is at information kiosks and sets up for events. Members of the team also act as extra eyes on the street for community safety.

In addition, the program is a resume builder, giving members experience in areas such as event planning and diversity training.

Without the full CAP team, the roles members fill become harder to provide, Reimer noted.

“It means more work for fewer people,” he said.

In a worst-case scenario, the 2023 CAP team will consist of four people instead of 10. Pre-pandemic, the teams numbered nearly a dozen people.

Reimer said Service Canada is not willing to fund the KCBIA’s entire request because it recognizes the association as a public entity and not as a non-profit organization. He said Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo MP Frank Caputo has asked Service Canada to reconsider its parameters so full funding can be accessed.