British Columbia

Derelict buildings in Kamloops shopping district frustrate business association

The North Shore Business Improvement Association is working to transform Tranquille Road into a modern shopping district. But its members are losing patience with the disrepair of some buildings in the area.

Owners should keep their properties in good shape, according to city bylaw

This former restaurant in the North Shore neighbourhood of Kamloops is viewed by a local business association as an eyesore. It's on the city's watch-list of buildings that may be violating bylaws. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

A Kamloops business association that has been making efforts in recent years to beautify part of the city's North Shore neighbourhood is growing increasingly frustrated by the disrepair of some buildings in the area. 

Despite the business association's efforts, a handful of buildings along Tranquille Road remain run-down and boarded up, attracting vandals and squatters. 

"It's just really quite frustrating when there are specific eyesores that just are not getting dealt with," said Joshua Knaak of the North Shore Business Improvement Association, a key driver of the city's efforts to transform the district into a shopping corridor.

Kamloops' Good Neighbour bylaw dictates that owners should not leave their properties in disrepair. Currently, the city is monitoring more than 20 cases that may cause public nuisance.

Mike Rose's former Italian restaurant is on the city's watch-list. Located at Tranquille Road and Knox Street, the business has been closed for 14 years: it's boarded up with plywood boards covered in graffiti.

Mike Rose, owner of the derelict restaurant, says boarding up his property is the only way to protect its windows from vandalism. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

"The only way I can keep the windows from being busted is by keeping it boarded up. I replaced the window here, and three weeks later it got busted again," said Rose. 

"The last time I stopped to ask somebody to move out, I was threatened with a baseball bat."

Knaak says his company, Arpa Investments, has spent millions of dollars on properties along Tranquille Road. He said many entrepreneurs have worked together to get the shopping district into better shape. 

"As soon as [the graffiti] came back, we hit it again and we painted over it," Knaak said about efforts to remove graffiti on buildings.

"Clean it up. We're all waiting on you," Knaak told Rose.

The city has to wait and see if owners of abandoned buildings follow all the bylaw compliance procedures before it can employ extreme measures such as tearing down buildings and suing the owners. 

"All we can do is ensure that it is kept so that there is no nuisance attached to it," Tammy Blundell, the city's bylaw services manager, said to Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

Jeremy Heighton, executive director of North Shore Business Improvement Association, says the city has been too slow to tackle the derelict building issues. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

But Jeremy Heighton, executive director of the business improvement association, is impatient.

"There is a desire to resolve things peacefully and happily," he said. "Let's do it now and let's do it as a community and take back our streets."

With files from Doug Herbert and Daybreak Kamloops

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