Police presence in North Kamloops, on Overlanders Bridge due to weapons report, Mounties say

Responding to weapons call

A police presence seen on Overlanders Bridge Wednesday afternoon is related to an earlier report of an assault with a weapon in North Kamloops, Kamloops Mounties say.

Kamloops RCMP Cpl. Crystal Evelyn confirmed the two incidents were linked, noting the situation is “dynamic and ongoing.”

“Residents are asked to please use caution in an area where police officers are attending, and if they can reroute, reroute,” Evelyn said.

A large police presence could be seen in the 1700-block of Parkcrest Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, as officers responded to an address for a report of an assault with a weapon.

In a news release, Mounties said a suspect fled in a truck after allegedly assaulting and threatening a person with what appeared to be a firearm.

Evelyn said the police response is still active and ongoing.

Anyone with information related to the investigation is asked to contact police as soon as possible at 250-828-3000, and reference file 2024-5974.


Large rental development on Eighth Street in North Kamloops approved by city council

Apartment project green lit

Plans for a mixed-use development aiming to bring nearly 200 units of rental housing to the North Shore were given the green light from Kamloops council Tuesday after a public hearing.

Council members voted unanimously to approve a development permit application for The Pulse on Eighth, which will be built over 1006, 1014 and 1024 Eighth St., and agreed to discharge a no-build covenant which will allow the two six-storey buildings to rise.

Coun. Nancy Bepple acknowledged concerns raised during the public hearing by homeowners who live adjacent to the development site, but said she would vote in favour of the project.

“Especially for seniors and people who can't afford a house — they need somewhere to go to live," Bepple said.

"It's on the bus routes. It's going to meet a lot of housing needs within our city. I appreciate that it will change the neighbourhood — but I guess my neighbourhood is in transition too. I think that’s part of what happens with older neighbourhoods.”

The development includes plans for two six-storey buildings. The first building will include 126 rental market units, ranging from studios to two-bedroom suites. The second building will include 65 affordable rental suites for seniors, ranging in size from studio to one-bedroom units. Both buildings will have commercial space on the ground floor.

The build will include an underground parkade and at-grade parking around the buildings, with access to and from the northbound lanes of Eighth Street. A rear lane will connect the development to Richmond Avenue south of the site.

Traffic, height concerns raised

Community members attended Tuesday’s public hearing, raising concerns about traffic impacts along Seventh Street, and at the Eighth Street and Richmond Avenue intersection. City staff said a traffic study didn’t raise any concerns, and the project isn’t anticipated to have a significant impact.

Development plans show the six-storey building sitting closest to the neighbourhood will be stepped back to five storeys, but nearby homeowners raised concerns about the project’s height and its proximity to the single family residences.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson addressed concerns raised by a resident that their view of Batchelor Hills and the panorama to the west being blocked.

“I understand your pain, because I live just up the river from you a little bit, and I had a view of the North Thompson valley, you can see the hills with the snow on them," the mayor said.

"And then a big building showed up right there. So I mean, I got over it, but at the time it was like my life was ending."

However, he noted a directive from the province which states Kamloops needs to build more than 4,200 units of housing in the next four and a half years.

“We have to do something — we’ve got to build for more people,” he said.

Three-year timeline anticipated

In the wake of council’s decision, Sheila Minten, project spokesperson and manager for Total Concept Developments, said the team was “delighted” to have obtained approval for their application.

“The feedback from project stakeholders, including neighbours, downtown businesses and community members, has further fuelled the excitement surrounding this project for our team,” Minten said in a news release.

“We now have the opportunity to maximize the use of an under-utilized area to address Kamloops’ critical need for rental market housing and new commercial space to add to the vibrancy of the area.”

The developers anticipate a three-year timeline for the project.

“As a team, we will now move forward with our next steps which will be to confirm timelines and details to apply for a building permit,” Minten said.

Sixth annual Kamloops Darkfest to showcase local, Canadian filmmaking talent

Film fest to show local talent

A selection of Canadian horror films, including the work of young local filmmakers, will be screened at the Paramount Theatre next month as part of Darkfest during the Kamloops Film Festival.

This year’s Darkfest will see popular Kamloops-based podcast Drunk in a Graveyard present curated Canadian horror films, and DIAG creator Robin Goodfellow said they plan to bring the thunder.

The first film to be screened on March 2 will be Quebecois French-language vampire film Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person.

Goodfellow says the film is about a “vegetarian” vampire who doesn’t want to kill humans who becomes entangled with a young man hoping to end his own life. “Ghoulish and wholly vegetarian” snacks will be served at the screening.

A short horror film titled Occult Vortex will also be screened the same night. Goodfellow said the short was made by a troupe of local teenage filmmakers and directed by Riley Journe.

“I think it's really cool to give props to local people who are making things and I think that this group of kids is going to do something and I won't be surprised if in five years they're making horror films,” Goodfellow said.

The following weekend, the horror film Zoe.mp4 by Vancouver director Jeremy Lutter will be screened at the Paramount. Lutter will be in attendance and a live Q&A will be held following the screening.

“We will also be screening a short of his called Giltrude's Dwelling. It’s a little bit older, but it's actually the short film that kind of made us fall in love with Jeremy and his work,” Goodfellow said.

Goodfellow said it was the sixth time Drunk in a Graveyard has hosted Darkfest during the festival, and their goal is highlight achievements in Canadian filmmaking.

“We are very lucky and really, really proud to say that all of the short films and the films that we're screening this year are Canadian made,” Goodfellow said

“We really think that Canadian cinema is really, really important and valuable and we have a lot of seminal cinema in our cinematic history and I think the stories of Canadians are important, and it's important that they're told by Canadians.”


City of Kamloops sues plumbing company alleging unpaid bills following infrastructure damage

City sues over unpaid bills

The City of Kamloops is suing a local plumbing company, alleging it refused to pay up after its employees damaged municipal water infrastructure on two separate occasions.

The city filed a lawsuit against Pinnacle Plumbing and Heating, which operates as Mr. Rooter Plumbing, seeking $7,284.21.

According to the city’s notice of civil claim, Mr. Rooter employees twice caused expensive damage to city water lines in 2022 — on Vaughn Place and on Garymede Drive.

The city said the first incident was on June 13, 2022, when a Mr. Rooter worker using an excavator hit a property’s water service box with an excavator, causing damage to the curb stop and creating a leak on the city side of the line.

The next incident was two months later, on Aug. 15, 2022, when a Mr. Rooter worker using an excavator damaged a city water main, which required significant work to repair.

The city’s cost to repair the Vaughn Place break was 1,954.90 and the cost for the Garymede Drive repair work was $5,173.31.

According to the city, invoices were sent to Mr. Rooter in September of 2022. When neither bill was paid, the city sent a demand letter last month. The city’s lawsuit was filed in Kamloops provincial court on Monday.

“Mr. Rooter has acknowledged that the damage was caused by its employees but has insisted that the property owners should compensate the city for the damage it caused,” the city’s claim reads.

Once the company has been served, it will have 14 days to reply.

None of the allegations in the notice of claim have been proven in court.

Municipal advisor arrives in Kamloops for in-person meetings with mayor, councillors

Advisor meets with council

The new municipal advisor for Kamloops city council arrived in the Tournament Capital this week for a series of in-person meetings with the local elected officials.

Former Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, who was secured by the province to help council work through governance issues, attended Tuesday’s council meeting along with a couple of ministry representatives.

“I’m pleased to be here,” Braun told Castanet Kamloops on Tuesday evening.

“I was honoured by the province to have been asked — that was a bit of a surprise to me. I wasn't looking for work and I wasn't expecting the province would phone. And my wife actually encouraged me to do it.”

After considering the matter for a few days, Braun said he agreed to take the job. He noted he has friends in Kamloops, and holds “great respect” for former mayor Ken Christian after getting to know him and other mayors over frequent meetings through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Braun said he started out his contract by conducting some research, and has already met with Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson, city CAO David Trawin and Coun. Katie Neustaeter.

“[Wednesday] is the other seven [councillors] — so that's a full day, one hour blocks with each of them, because I want to hear from them,” Braun said.

He said he will likely be back in Kamloops for a March 12 council meeting, and plans to speak with some city staff.

Braun said he will be drafting a final report which will include recommendations for council, but his contract also includes conducting some coaching and mentoring work.

“I've been doing that already a little bit with the mayor, and helping. Because he's new — being a mayor is tough,” said Braun, who served as mayor for two terms before choosing not to run for re-election in 2022.

Braun was at the helm when Abbotsford was hit by devastating flooding caused by an atmospheric river event in November 2021.

“I know what I speak of. And your staff is there to support you, as the mayor," he said.

"I thought today went pretty good actually — I’m hearing from some, better than it’s been — so that’s progress in itself already.”

Hamer-Jackson said he’s “had a few” meetings with Braun and thinks the process is going well so far, adding he felt Tuesday’s council meeting went smoothly.

Braun’s contract will run until June.

Kamloops council voted unanimously in September to ask the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for an advisor to help provide guidance through turbulent times. The service is offered by the B.C. government at no cost to municipalities.

Braun took over as municipal advisor more than a month after the departure of Peter Fassbender, who started meeting with Kamloops mayor and council in December before he was suddenly moved out of the role without explanation.

Two years in, young Ukrainian in Kamloops recalls how Russian invasion upended life

Reflecting on Ukraine war

Yana Voitenko had to grow up fast — and she had to do it on her own.

The 18-year-old from Kyiv said the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, 2022, had a major impact on her life and country.

Voitenko was a high school student when the war began and she was forced to leave her homeland and parents behind.

Now she lives thousands of kilometres away going to Thompson Rivers University, renting a place in Kamloops with three roommates while trying to find a new job.

Fleeing the capital

Voitenko said she recalls being woken up in her apartment by the bombing on Feb. 24, 2022, when Russia invaded.

“Everything was shaking,” Voitenko said, adding she opened the blinds to her window to see an explosion.

She said her family fled Kyiv to a neighbouring community, but the scenes of war did not stop there.

Voitenko said she witnessed a plane crash, with remnants falling on her neighbour’s yard.

“It was terrifying because we never knew if we're going to be alive at the end of the day, and my only dream was ‘I really hope it's not my last [day],’” Voitenko said.

“I was just 16, I really wanted to live more, and it was very hard mentally.”

Sent to Canada

Fearing the situation was too dangerous, Voitenko’s parents had her leave the country.

But her parents did not make the trip with her as Voitenko’s father was conscripted to stay and aid the war effort, and her mother did not want to leave her husband behind.

Voitenko travelled to find shelter in Canada herself, and ended up living with her older brother in Vancouver for the first few months, but the city was too expensive.

Wanting to keep herself busy, she decided to pursue her education and settled on Kamloops due to its sizeable Ukrainian population.

Voitenko said she stays in contact with her parents as much as possible.

“It’s very hard," she said. "You wake up every day thinking, I hope they’re OK, I hope they're alive, I hope I'm not gonna get any horrible news."

War traumatizing a generation

Reflecting on the past two years, Voitenko said she feels like she was just a child, who didn’t know what she wanted from her future, and had to mature rapidly by finding work and figuring out where she was going to live.

“My mindset changed completely because of this situation,” Voitenko said.

“But that's how a lot of Ukrainians are right now. You meet young people and they do not act their age because they got this trauma in them and it forced them to be way older than they actually are.”

Voitenko could be found amongst a crowd of some 60 people outside city hall last Saturday marking the two-years since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Draped in a Ukrainian flag, Voitenko told Castanet Kamloops she hopes people will not forget about the war in Ukraine and the destruction Russia has caused.

Kamloops-area board game inventor sees creation hit shelves nearly 40 years later

Local board game hits stores

A quiet night shift nearly 40 years ago was the beginning of a quest that has now seen a Kamloops-area heavy equipment operator’s board game idea go from inception to store shelves.

Ken Flett, now semi-retired in Cache Creek, said he first came up with the idea for his board game Contractor while operating a bulldozer on the Coquihalla Highway in 1986.

He said he felt the ups and downs of the construction industry were an ideal premise for a board game.

“There’s mechanical repairs, fuel bills, weather and workday hazards, and the contractor that makes the most money at the end of the game — he’s the one that wins,” Flett said.

“There's employees — one of them's called Inefficient Ike, he'll lose your money. And the other one's called Production Pete, he'll make you money. I think every construction company in the world has those two fellows on their crew.”

Came from love of board games

Flett said the game is somewhat modelled after Monopoly, a classic he grew up playing with his family.

He said he has long had an interest in board games.

“Because I was the youngest of a family of eight and my sisters and brother played them, and then they all went to school and I'd be home alone,” he said.

“Then I’d be playing them and I'd have one marker for my mom and one for the dog and one for the cat and one for me."

Flett said the game is 10 per cent Monopoly and 90 per cent his own invention.

Game had been 'on back burner'

He spent two years tweaking, developing and play-testing the game with friends and family before initially having 1,000 copies manufactured in 1988.

“I managed to sell a few even though it was after Christmas, and then I gave 600 of them to a distributor who promptly shortly thereafter went broke and I never saw them again or received any money for them or recovered any of the games,” Flett said.

“I had eight mouths to feed then so I had to get a job that paid money, so I I just kept working at construction and it's been on the back burner for all these years.”

In 2023, Flett said he had the game’s appearance updated and had another 2,000 copies manufactured.

The game is now available in 23 stores across Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., including in Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops. It's also available for purchase online.

The game is recommended for ages eight and up and can be played between two to six players.

Flett said he’s hoping find a major distributor to get the game into more stores.

Closing arguments underway in latest Tiny House Warriors trial

Tiny House Warriors on trial

Closing arguments got underway Tuesday in the case of four Tiny House Warriors accused of throwing rocks at security and work crews while blocking access to a Trans Mountain work site in the North Thompson.

The trial of Tricia Charlie, Isha Jules, Nicole Manuel and Sami Nasir got underway last week in Kamloops provincial court. The four are charged in connection with a series of events alleged to have taken place in Blue River on Sept. 15, 2021.

Each of the accused are facing charges of mischief over $5,000, mischief under $5,000, causing a disturbance and loitering in a public place. Charlie, Manuel and Nasir are facing additional charges of resisting or obstructing a peace officer. Jules and Nasir are also facing assault charges — Jules charged with one count each of assault causing bodily harm and simple assault, and Nasir facing a charge of assault with a weapon.

In his closing submissions on Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi described Manuel and Jules as the instigators.

“All the accused individuals entered the property, threw rocks at the workers and security personnel and blocked the exit,” he said.

"Certainly, Nicole Manuel and Isha Jules initiated the events of that morning. The other accused became involved and assisted them."

TMX security likened to 'posse'

Defence lawyer Joe Killoran, who represented Manuel at trial, asked Kamloops provincial court Judge Lorianna Bennett to discount the evidence of two ex-Mounties working security for Trans Mountain who he said “clearly lied” on the witness stand.

“They didn’t know who they were dealing with and they came here and said they did,” he said, describing both men as being confused about who was on scene in Blue River on the day of the alleged offences.

“We have two Crown witnesses charged with making a pre-arrest identification and they’re both lying. … This is what marginalized groups talk about when they describe what they’re dealing with."

Killoran did not mince words when referring to the Trans Mountain security workers, referring to them as "a gang" and "vigilantes" who taunted and threw rocks at protesters.

"Nicole Manuel's purpose was not to resist arrest," he said. "It was to get away from the posse that was chasing her."

Incident also subject of lawsuit

The Tiny House Warriors are a First Nations group opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project. Manuel and her sister, Kanahus, are prominent members of the group and both have been politically active for decades.

The Manuel sisters, daughters of former Neskonlith Chief Arthur Manuel, were arrested in 2001 after erecting a highway blockade near Sun Peaks, protesting the development of the mountain resort. Both were later convicted of intimidation charges and sentenced to serve short jail sentences.

Nicole Manuel and Charlie filed a lawsuit last year alleging they were beat up by a Trans Mountain security guard on Sept. 15, 2021. None of the allegations in that claim have been proven in court.

A date for Bennett's decision is expected to be set on March 21.

BC Club Curling Championships come to Kamloops' McArthur Island next week

Curling provincials in town

B.C.’s top club curling rinks will converge in Kamloops next week looking for a berth at nationals in Ontario.

The McArthur Island Curling Club will host the 2024 BC Club Curling Championships, which run from March 5 to March 10.

The event will feature 13 men’s and women’s curling teams representing clubs from across B.C. The winners will represent the province at the 2024 Everest Funeral Concierge Canadian Curling Club Championships, which will run in Barrie, Ont., in November.

Men’s rinks are coming from the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Quesnel, Kelowna and Cranbrook. Women’s rinks will come from the Lower Mainland, Campbell River, Castlegar, Vernon and Kamloops — the lone local team being Lori Olsen’s Kamloops Curling Centre squad.

For more information about the event, click here.

Kamloops council wants city staff involved in TRU overpass study

TRU wants to study overpass

Kamloops city council wants staff to be involved in a study commissioned by Thompson Rivers University to investigate locations for a proposed overpass spanning Summit Drive — a study TRU’s president says is needed for the institution to have confidence the $10-million bridge will be well used.

TRU President Brett Fairbairn appeared before council during Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the university’s perspective on the project, the cost of which is intended to be split equally between TRU and the city.

“We know that we have, as you have, a fiduciary responsibility to ensure due diligence on major investments," he said.

"At this time, based on the information we've got, we lack the confidence that enough research has been done."

Fairbairn’s presentation comes a couple of weeks after council members expressed frustration that the bridge location was still being debated, with city staff saying two engineering studies — undertaken in 2012 and 2022 — recommended the same location for the span out of three possibilities.

At the time, council voted to send a letter to TRU asking for more information about the study, and advising the university it wasn’t interested in changing the location of the bridge span.

The city committed $5 million to the project last year on the understanding that the project was shovel-ready.

TRU wants to get it right, city told

On Tuesday, Fairbairn asked council to allow the university the opportunity to finish one final study about the bridge location, which is intended to be complete in April.

He said there were concerns the 2012 study was outdated, preceding housing developments on either side of Summit Drive and not taking future development into consideration.

Fairbairn said TRU was most concerned about ensuring the safety of students, staff and members of the public who travel to the university daily, adding the Summit Drive and McGill Road intersection was one of the most crash-prone in the city.

“The proposed multi-use overpass will separate pedestrians and cyclists from vehicle traffic helping to safeguard all users. But that safety promise only becomes real if the structure is actually used by the vast majority of cyclists and pedestrians who move through the area,” Fairbairn said.

“If we build it in the wrong location, it will greatly reduce the safety impact.”

City wants to work with university

Marvin Kwiatkowski, the city’s development, engineering and sustainability director, told council that city staff weren’t sure what kind of information was missing from the 2012 or 2022 studies, noting the information regarding growth was included.

He said staff heard in January that the university had commissioned a consultant, and the city hasn’t been involved in the terms of reference for the study.

Kamloops council voted to send another letter to TRU, thanking them for presenting at Tuesday’s meeting and asking that city staff and university administration work collaboratively on the overpass project. The letter will further ask that city staff be a part of the ongoing study.

Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson tried to get council to reconsider the decision it made on Feb. 6 to send a letter to TRU, asking for more context around the study and saying it wasn’t interested in changing the overpass location.

Councillors rejected the mayor's proposal, noting the letter had been sent and had already been answered by way of Fairbairn’s Tuesday presentation.

More Kamloops News