A Kamloops city councillor has been going pane to pane, handing out notes of appreciation and well wishes to those who appear to be visiting the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past month, Coun. Mike O’Reilly has written 100 notes on the back of his city councillor business card and placed them on windshields of vehicles in town with out-of-province licence plates.
“If you are visiting, thank you for coming to #Kamloops,” one of the notes reads. “Stay healthy.”
O’Reilly said the initiative follows an incident about a month ago in Kamloops, in which an Alberta man whose vehicle was parked downtown has his driver’s side window smashed. While the truck’s Alberta licence plate was hidden from view, the vehicle did sport an Edmonton Oilers sticker, which led the visitor to believe the vandalism was related to his visit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a business owner, you always try to think — if your customer has a negative experience, how do you turn that negative into a positive?” O’Reilly said. “I just started putting myself in the shoes of somebody coming to our city and being afraid to be in Kamloops. That didn’t sit right with me.”
On one occasion, O’Reilly placed a card on a windshield, only to realize somebody was sitting inside the vehicle with out of province plates. When he went to the driver’s-side window, the person apparently became defensive, telling the city councillor they were in Kamloops for legitimate purposes.
“Regardless of the colour of your licence plate, you should feel safe to be in Kamloops and you should feel safe to be in British Columbia,” O’Reilly said.
His desire to change the narrative appears to be working, as the notes have spurred emails, text messages and phone calls to him, expressing gratitude and enjoyment of time spent in Kamloops.
“Be kind. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. You don’t know why they’re here,” O’Reilly said. “The one person I did speak with, they were here for three months because the husband works for the BC Wildfire fighting centre at the airport. You don’t know what they’re here for.”