The City of Kamloops says calls for service to the West Columbia Street area have decreased and, as a result, it has removed six hotels and motels from its nuisance property list.
A handful of properties remain on the list.
On Tuesday (March 23), the city announced it has removed the Best Western Plus, Panorama Inn and Suites, Grandview Motel, Ramada by Wyndham, Columbia Motor Inn and Knights Inn from the list.
The city’s community services department, Kamloops RCMP and Kamloops Fire Rescue have been working with hotels and motels in the area, following complaints of criminal activity in the area stemming from the properties.
Community services supervisor Kevin Beeton told KTW the city looked at calls for service in recent months and noticed a “significant reduction” in calls to the six properties. In addition, he said, security assessments have been done and resulted in improvements, such as increased lighting and security measures.
“We saw lighting improvements in the parking areas and around the building itself on most of the properties,” Beeton said. “We saw things like access to certain areas of the property that really didn’t need to be accessed by the public were reduced, in terms of gates and locks put on. We saw doors that were not secured properly into things like utility areas and shed storage areas that were changed and now locked to prevent access and issues and concerns of people using it for a shelter, for instance. That type of thing.”
Kamloops Accommodation Association president Tyson Andrykew said the association was given a heads up in recent days and is “happy” by the news. In addition, he said the association had known for a while that the three properties in the West Columbia Street area that remain on the list — the Star Lodge, Desert Inn and Hospitality Inn — would remain on the list, due to financial constraints, willingness and property logistics.
A fourth motel in downtown Kamloops and away from the West Columbia strip — Acadian Inn — also remains on the list.
“Ultimately, it’s because of the hard work of those six that they got off there,” Andrykew said. “They took the appropriate steps. We’re confident that the other properties are working in that same direction, but it’s just going to take them a bit longer to get there.”
Beeton said the city is continuing to work with the remaining property owners. He said the city is in the process of securing assessments of those properties, which could lead to recommendations and improvements. He said once that occurs, the city will reassess calls for service and revaluate whether those properties should remain deemed nuisance properties.
Beeton said a law enforcement working group — which includes police, fire, senior city management and building staff — meets monthly and discusses specifically properties causing high calls for service.
Asked of the threshold or criteria that property owners must meet in order to get off the nuisance property list, Beeton said the property owners must take into consideration recommendations provided via the security assessment. He said the city does not expect property owners to complete every recommendation at once, but that it can be done over time. He said in that case, the city works with the property owners, stressing the importance of making major improvements like eliminating garbage and debris and addressing concerns around unsightly premises. He said a couple of properties have had fires of late, noting it is important for areas damaged by fires to be addressed in a timely fashion. A city policy guides the boarding up of structures, Beeton said.
In addition, Beeton said the city’s Good Neighbour Bylaw provides the city with the tool to require properties to be cleaned up.
“We are getting co-operation from all the properties,” he said. “Again, we do continue to work with all of the properties and we will continue that until we see the significant reduction in calls for service.”