Kamloops man ordered to pay after cops catch him driving on North Shore with shotgun, ammunition

Fined for driving with gun

A Kamloops man who was caught driving around the city with a shotgun and ammunition in the cab of his truck has been ordered to pay $1,500 in fines.

Kristofer Alfredo Roger Mazzarella, 29, pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Thursday to one count each of improper storage of a firearm and impaired driving stemming from separate incidents in recent months.

On Dec. 11, court heard, a Kamloops RCMP constable patrolling Tranquille Road near the Canco gas station spotted a suspicious interaction between the driver of a pickup truck and two men on bikes.

The officer watched as the cyclists sped away, pursued by the truck. When the truck struck a pole, the Mountie decided to pull the vehicle over.

Court heard Mazzarella, the driver of the truck, told the officer he hit the gas instead of the brake. The Mountie opened the door of the truck and two shotgun shells fell to the ground.

Court heard the officer also saw a 12-gauge shotgun in the vehicle and found another firearm in the back seat.

Mazzarella was arrested and the weapons and ammunition were seized.

On March 26, Mazzarella was pulled over in Pritchard and blew a fail. A subsequent breathalyzer test showed he was over the legal limit to drive.

Mazzarella, who has no prior criminal history, apologized in court.

“I will not be making this mistake again,” he said. “It’s been a big eye-opener for me.”

Kamloops provincial court Judge Stella Frame fined Mazzarella $500 for the firearms offence and $1,000 for the impaired conviction. She also barred him from driving or possessing firearms for one year.

“It is very concerning that it [the firearm] was transported in this manner,” she said.


Equipment rentals, food services available for the summer at Riverside Park

Rentals kick off at Riverside

A pilot project offering sports equipment rentals and increased food services at Riverside Park is now open to the public.

Bev DeSantis, CEO for Tourism Kamloops, said she is excited that Kamloops families and tourists can come to the park and try activities that historically have not been offered in the space.

“The beauty of getting community and visitors together is always that magical piece of destination development and experience,” DeSantis said.

Tourism Kamloops is heading up the project, with Kamloops Water Sport Rentals and Sea Legs Water Bikes contracted to rent out equipment from the concession stand.

Kayaks, canoes, water bikes and lawn games like spike ball, bocce and croquet will be available to rent each day from noon to 8 p.m. until Sept. 7.

Food vendors will also be set up at the concession building, which has been refreshed with murals, planters and a coat of paint.

“As much as we're with tourism, this is just as much a community project,” DeSantis said.

“Instead of sitting around on Saturday and saying, what are we going to do this afternoon, let's go to the park and do something we haven't done before. Without a huge investment and without a lot of thought, it's all done for you.”

Last month, city council voted in favour of allowing Tourism Kamloops to proceed with the pilot project after some discussion and debate.

Coun. Bill Sarai, who voted to approve the project, said he was excited to see the updated concession stand and the equipment being used in the river.

“To see it firsthand, this is above what was in my imagination,” Sarai said.

Sarai said the park has seemed tired, and although there are activities for children at Riverside, there hasn’t been much offered for youth and adults.

“This is an amazing opportunity to rent a game, play bocce ball, chess, lawn darts, there's so much to do that you can pick and choose for the whole day. And still, if you want to use a park for reading a book, there's lots of spaces to do that,” Sarai said.

Sarai tested out a water bike along the river, and said it was a lot of fun.

“We weren't sure about the water sports, what they were going to offer, and we were a little bit concerned as we're not on a lake, we’re on a river with the current, but it was amazing,” he said.

“It's safe, education-wise the people that are running it are very well trained and respectful and responsible. That, as a councillor, is one of my biggest takes.”

Two staff members with Kamloops Water Sport Rentals, Tate Solomonson and Cassie McNutt, said they are looking forward to seeing people out on the water and having fun.

"We're pretty lucky to have what we have here with the river,” Solomonson said.

“It's just nice to be able to share this with people, and get people out and safe is the best thing. There's no stress and everyone's having fun.”

Cassie McNutt said their aim is to help people make the most of the park.

“Just make the most out of summer and get Riverside Park started up again, and make it fun for everyone who's visiting,” McNutt said.

“It's great to be able to hopefully start up again from COVID, not a lot of people have been doing very much. So it's a good chance for people to start getting back to normal.”

BCEHS says changes to paramedic staffing model will result in more paramedics for rural communities

More paramedics for TNRD?

BC Emergency Health Services is introducing a new paramedic staffing model for rural and remote communities — a move they say will add 31 regular paramedic positions to communities in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District.

Paul Vallely, senior provincial executive director for BCEHS, presented details of the new scheduled on call (SOC) staffing model to the TNRD Board of Directors at their meeting on June 17.

Vallely told the board that the changes are a result of an agreement between BCEHS and the union for B.C. ambulance, paramedics and dispatchers.

“We're moving away from what has been a 46-year-old model heavily reliant on on call paramedics, really targeted to provide employment, and liveable wages and benefits for paramedics to help retain them in our smaller communities across the province,” Vallely said.

Under the new staffing model, paramedics in rural communities will work three days on followed by three days off. Vallely said they will receive eight hours per day of paid, guaranteed work attending emergency calls and performing community paramedicine work, among other duties.

After their regular work hours, paramedics will be on call for 16 hours. They will be paid a stipend of $2 per hour, with additional pay for any 911 calls they attend.

Vallely said they expect to see 500 regular paramedic positions being created across the province, including 230 part time and 270 full time roles.

According to BCEHS, there will be seven new full time paramedics stationed in Merritt, and four in Chase.

Clearwater, Clinton, Barriere, Ashcroft, Logan Lake and Lytton will also be getting more paramedics working under the SOC model.

Vallely told the Board of Directors that the previous on-call staffing model had contributed to “paramedic migration,” as staff looked to transfer to larger communities.

The old model saw on-call paramedics provide their availability to BCEHS. Staff were paid on the basis of which calls they attended in addition to a $2 per stipend while on call.

Vallely said some on-call paramedics hold down multiple jobs to try and make ends meet, which in turn reduces the amount of hours they are available for paramedic work.

“Without regular and predictable income and jobs for paramedics in rural and remote B.C., we have a challenge to keep and retain paramedics in smaller communities,” Vallely said.

Director Linda Brown, also the mayor of Merritt, told Vallely the new system would “increase our services greatly,” although she said she would like to see more full-time positions created.

“This is a far better system from where we came from. And I think it does enhance recruitment and retention,” Brown said.

However, some directors said they were concerned that ambulance coverage for their communities wouldn’t improve under the new system, with paramedics working long hours for three days on shift.

Stephen Quinn, director for Electoral Area B, said the Blue River ambulance gets dispatched everywhere when ambulances are short.

Quinn said the ambulance will cover Barriere, Clearwater and has even completed patient transfers between McBride and Prince George.

“These are not little distances these people have to travel. So what happens when our ambulance is gone, and there’s an accident, and a need for it. I haven’t heard anything that would make me feel better,” Quinn said.

Vallely said as the new scheduled on call model is being implemented, they will be making changes to their dispatch priorities, trying to retain ambulances in the community as much as possible.

He said ambulance resources in Kamloops have also been increased to help prevent the draw of small community ambulances out of their area.

However, he said it’s important people understand that BCEHS is a provincial service, with no fixed boundaries.

This ensures that, in the event of a major incident, there will be ambulance coverage.

“We aren’t limited in our ability to respond, because we will bring the closest ambulances from the surrounding area to respond to that,” Vallely said.

According to Vallely, the new SOC staffing model is expected to roll out in November 2021.


Kamloops region recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 last week

Local case counts dropping

The number of new weekly COVID-19 cases in the Kamloops area continues to fall.

According two data made public on Wednesday by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, the Kamloops local health area recorded 10 new cases of COVID-19 between June 13 and June 19.

That number is down from a dozen the week before.

Over the last six weeks, the Kamloops local health area has averaged 18.5 new cases of COVID-19 per week. Between Jan. 3 and March 6, the peak of case counts for the Kamloops region, the local health area was averaging 109 new cases per week.

The region recorded 346 cases in all of 2020 — most of them late in the year.

The Kamloops local health area includes the city as well as Sun Peaks, Chase, Barriere, Logan Lake and Savona.

A vehicle was involved in a T-bone collision on Summit Drive in Kamloops

T-Bone collision on Summit

Emergency crews responded to a T-bone collision Thursday on Summit Drive in Kamloops.

The crash occurred just before 7:30 p.m. near The Real Canadian Superstore.

The vehicle appears to have been pushed off the road near the parking lot.

No word yet on injuries or the cause of the accident.

RCMP issue reminder about dangers of elder abuse, urge residents to check in with seniors

Look after the elderly

In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, Kamloops RCMP is urging residents to look out for the elderly folks in their lives.

In a statement, police said it's important to remember that some senior citizens are still stuck inside, even as COVID19 restrictions relax.

“As public health orders begin to rescind, it offers a good opportunity to check in with the elders in your life, either in your family or in your neighbourhood, while still being mindful of safety guidelines in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” RCMP Cpl. Dana Napier said in a statement.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was on June 15, and police said they hope the day serves as a reminder of the less obvious threats seniors may face, including physical and mental harm, neglect, fraud and theft.

Police said elder abuse can lead to long-term health problems for seniors, and residents should watch for signs like a sudden change in behaviour or appearance, physical injuries or changes in financial resources.

“If you’re responsible for assisting with your elder’s finances, it’s a good idea to watch for large or unusual purchases and money withdrawals,” Napier said

The RCMP said there are numerous scams targeted at seniors.

Often, scams may request payment in the form of iTunes or gift cards.

Police said retail employees are being asked to talk to any seniors purchasing a large number of gift cards and discuss fraud scams circulating.

Kamloops RCMP's victim services unit moves from downtown detachment to North Shore office

Victim services on N. Shore

The Kamloops RCMP’s victim services unit has a new home.

Victim services, which offers support to people who have been the victim of crime, as well as their families, is now based in the North Shore community policing office, 915 Seventh St.

The North Shore office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.

Victim services had been located in the RCMP’s Battle Street detachment. The department will keep the same phone number — 250-828-3223.

Overnight road work at Columbia Street and Notre Dame Drive may cause delays for motorists

Overnight road work

Overnight road work at the intersection of Columbia Street and Notre Dame Drive may cause delays starting Thursday evening, according to the City of Kamloops.

In a social media post, the city said crews will be working at the intersection from 7:00 p.m. Thursday to 6:00 a.m. Friday.

“Please use caution when driving in the area, and expect delays,” the city said.

The city said transit will not be affected by the road work.

Highway 5 closed north of Kamloops due to serious collision

Highway 5 open after crash

UPDATE: 3:08 p.m.

According to DriveBC, Highway 5 south of Little Fort is now open in both directions.

The update came just after 2:30 p.m.

Drivers are cautioned to expect delays due to congestion.

There is no word yet on any injuries in the collision.

ORIGINAL: 1:52 p.m.

The Yellowhead Highway is closed north of Kamloops due to a serious crash.

According to DriveBC, a vehicle incident took place early Thursday afternoon just south of Little Fort.

The highway is closed in both directions.

DriveBC said it is in the process of assessing the situation. No detour route is available.

This story will be updated when more information becomes known.

Interior Health mobile vaccination clinic to stop in Logan Lake on Sunday

Vax clinic in Logan Lake

A mobile immunization clinic will stop by Logan Lake on Sunday, offering first doses of the COVID-19 jab for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated.

According to a statement from Interior Health, no appointments are necessary to receive the vaccine.

Anyone born in 2009 or earlier are eligible to get the first dose.

“People who live or work in the Logan Lake area will be able to walk up, register and receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” the health authority said.

The clinic will be set up at the Local Lake Recreation Centre on June 27, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

According to Interior Health, second doses require an appointment. Those who registered with the province to receive their first dose will receive a notification to book an appointment approximately eight weeks after they got the jab.

Interior Health’s mobile immunization clinics are run in partnership with BCAA.

IH said they planned stops in over 40 Interior communities, with clinics in places from 150 Mile House to Falkland already completed.

The mobile immunization clinic schedule and locations can be found on Interior Health’s webpage.

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