British Columbia

Residents want city to deploy security guards in their community, say crime, trash is at 'all-time high'

In letters sent out earlier this month, people who live in Valleyview, on the south shore of South Thompson River, said the riverbank areas around Vicars Road and Thompson Drive have become too dangerous for them to access over the past several months.

Association chair describes 'chaos' of homeless encampments in Valleyview neighbourhood of Kamloops

Residents of the Valleyview neighbourhood in Kamloops, B.C., have complained to the city council about what they say is the growing problems of theft and trash left by homeless campers along the banks of the South Thompson River. (Melissa Martin)

Residents of a riverside neighbourhood in Kamloops, B.C., are urging the city to provide security guards to patrol their community, which they say has seen an increase in crime and trash caused by homeless campers.

In letters sent out earlier this month, people who live in Valleyview, on the south shore of South Thompson River, said the riverbank areas around Vicars Road and Thompson Drive have become too dangerous for them to access over the past several months.

"The amount of garbage, human waste, bike chop shops and stolen property is at all-time high," the letters, drafted by Valleyview Community Association, said. 

Residents also said they had found needles being left by drug users near schools, and that vehicle thefts were happening on a daily basis.

"The community is frustrated. Residents have started seeking out their [stolen] possessions by making their way to … the riverbanks [where the campers reside]," the letters said. 

Association chair Julie Dormer, who is also a neighbourhood block watch captain, says the waste and theft problems have existed for years in her community, but the problems have become so overwhelming in recent months that she feels it's time to speak up.

"You watch people go with buggies and buggies worth of stuff down there, and it's just litter, it's chaos," Dormer said Tuesday to Shelley Joyce, host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

"People are in people's yards taking what's not locked down. It's awful."

The Valleyview residents want the City of Kamloops to dispatch security guards to the riverbank areas, like the city has done in the downtown and North Shore neighbourhoods.

But Coun. Dale Bass says it's financially challenging to have security guards patrolling neighbourhoods across the city.

"We are tasked with keeping the tax rate down to zero this year, so it's that conundrum of how we deal with this and still keep everybody happy," Bass said Tuesday on Daybreak Kamloops. "If we provide security everywhere, taxes will go up."

Bass says it's the police's job to keep neighbourhoods safe. She says she will discuss with other councillors on Thursday about the Valleyview residents' concerns.

Julie Dormer, the chair of Valleyview Community Association, says neighbours have started going to the riverbanks looking for properties stolen from their homes. (Melissa Martin)

The residents also sent letters to Kamloops RCMP, local MP Cathy McLeod and local MLA Todd Stone. 

In a written statement to CBC News on Thursday, Kamloops RCMP say they cannot police away the garbage, addiction and homelessness issues in Valleyview, and they encourage the neighbours there to make their homes safer by taking measures such as locking doors and windows at all times.

Tap the link below to learn more:

Julie Dormer, chair of Valleyview Community Association, speaks to Shelley Joyce about security concerns in her neighbourhood. 0:00

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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