Council considering $30K spend to update sobering centre business case

New look at sobering centre

Kamloops council is considering earmarking up to $30,000 to update a business case for a long-awaited sobering centre — a facility many say will fill a gap in the continuum of local mental health and addiction services.

The funding request will be discussed and put to a vote during Tuesday’s council meeting.

In a report prepared for council, staff said sobering and assessment centres are meant to offer short term shelter and medical supervision for people who are in withdrawal or under the influence of alcohol or other substances.

“Currently, individuals who are acutely intoxicated and require assessment and sobering often end up in the emergency rooms, jail cells or shelters,” the staff report said.

“Sobering and assessment centres provide an alternative option within a continuum of care for clients struggling with addictions that can provide an access point to detox and withdrawl management, and subsequently, to longer-term services and supports.”

A business case for a Kamloops sobering centre was drafted and sent to the Ministry of Health several years ago, but no progress was made on the matter despite follow up inquiries.

Last fall, in a meeting led by Coun. Dale Bass, Sheila Malcolmson, B.C. minister of mental health and addictions, asked for the documents to be resubmitted to her ministry for review.

In their report, staff said the business case first needs to be updated due to the amount of time that has gone by since it was originally written.

“The existing business case is outdated and understates the scale and intensity of need for a sobering and assessment centre facility,” the report said.

The report said while city staff will support all phases of the process, there isn’t capacity to conduct all the background research, engagement and writing required.

Staff are asking for up to $30,000 from the city’s gaming reserve in order to hire a consultant who will conduct research and put together the updated business case before it’s submitted to the province.

According to the report, the new business case may include budget considerations, capital needs, programming details, and statistics showing the scale of the toxic drug crisis and the impacts of substance use on the whole community.

The business case will also summarize best practices put in place at other sobering centres, and identify the gap in services that would be addressed through the establishment of the facility.

Representatives from treatment and recovery providers, Interior Health, and protective and emergency services will meet to discuss the site, and confirm support for Day One Society as the identified operator.

Sian Lewis, Day One Society’s executive director, addressed the need for a sobering centre during a presentation to council earlier this year.

“If we had a sobering assessment centre, not only are we redirecting people who need that health oversight while they’re still sobering up, so to speak, but also when they wake up the next morning they can come directly into detox beds,” Lewis said.

According to city staff, if the budget ask is approved, the work to update the business case will happen during the summer and fall months, with a goal of having the documents ready to submit to the province for consideration by the end of the year.


North Kamloops basketball courts undergoing artistic facelift thanks to unique collaboration

Basketball courts get facelift

The basketball courts at McDonald Park are getting an artistic makeover inspired by artwork created by Kamloops students.

The Kamloops Art Gallery, the City of Kamloops, SD73's After School program and artist Mallory Tolcher have joined forces to give the courts an artistic facelift.

Mallory Tolcher is an Ontario artist who challenges the stigma of women in sports by combining traditionally feminine elements with basketball culture. She recently collaborated with the WNBA for an exhibition game in Toronto.

Tolcher told Castanet she met Craig Willms of the Kamloops Art Gallery by chance through an exhibit in Abbotsford, and that led to the McDonald Park collaboration.

“We bonded over the sport and how both of our practices involve the participation of others,” she said.

Willms reached out to Tolcher after the exhibition and asked if she wanted to collaborate with him on a court in Kamloops.

Tolcher said they decided to involve the After School program because kids are going to be using the court the most.

“I think it's important to use the individuals that actually frequently use the space and get their ideas and opinions because the court [will] be used by them,” she said.

“I think that there's a lot of pride and ownership that goes with community arts.”

To involve the students, Tolcher sent activities and prompts to the After School program that students were able to work on over a few weeks.

“My goal was to have them think of what it means to grow as an individual, grow as a community,” she said.

Once the activities were completed, they were sent over to Tolcher and she drew inspiration from the kids’ designs.

“A lot of the recurring themes that I saw were ones of nature — like sunrises or sunsets, plants. I really liked the imagery that they used of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly,” she said.

“I used those kinds of ideas of growth as a connection with nature — so the final design is growth starting from either side of the court.”

From late May until the end of June, students will be working on painting the design created by Tolcher.

Tolcher said her favourite part of the project has been receiving photos of the children painting the mural, and the happiness they exude while working on it.

She said she would love to be on site while the kids are painting it, but is just excited that the kids are enjoying their time collaborating on this piece of art.

“I think the most exciting thing is that the mural will live on as something that they collaborated to create,” she said.

Tolcher said the city was very eager to do more projects, and Kamloops could expect more similar murals to come in the future.

Prison sentence for man who led Mounties on dangerous Coquihalla chase

Jail after wild police chase

A Kamloops man who led police on a wild chase that ended on the Coquihalla Highway has been ordered to spend nearly two years in prison.

Jeremy Orr-Hall pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Thursday to a string of charges including dangerous driving, flight from police, break and enter and mischief.

Court heard the 27-year-old was driving a stolen vehicle that refused to stop for police in Merritt on Oct. 12, 2022. Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi said Orr-Hall drove into oncoming traffic, through a ditch and up on a curb to get away from Mounties, narrowly missing two spike belts while fleeing.

Varesi said Orr-Hall managed to get onto the Coquihalla Highway, where officers boxed him in and arrested him at a turnaround just south of Merritt.

“The accused struggled with the officers,” he said. “He had to be Tasered in the process.”

Orr-Hall also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a May 9, 2022, incident in which he led police on a high-speed chase from Valleyview to Halston Avenue. He admitted to being under the influence of drugs at the time.

In addition, he pleaded guilty to charges connected to an Aug. 1, 2021, vehicle break-in on Vernon Avenue in North Kamloops and a June 2, 2022, burglary at a business in Salmon Arm.

Defence lawyer Cam Johnson said Orr-Hall had a difficult upbringing and is addicted to drugs. He said he has suffered from delusions and psychosis as a result of his drug use.

Orr-Hall, who had more than 30 prior convictions on his criminal record, expressed remorse in court and said he wants to get his life back on track.

“I just want to apologize,” he said.

“I want to be there for my daughter. I’m sick of going in and out of jail and I’m sick of drug addiction.”

Kamloops provincial court Judge Marianne Armstrong went along with a joint submission for a 21.5-month jail sentence. Once he’s given credit for time served, Orr-Hall will have a little more than a year remaining behind bars.

Orr-Hall was also ordered to pay $377.29 in restitution for damage caused in the Vernon Avenue break-in and placed on a three-year driving prohibition.


Partnership seeks increased sustainability in Kamloops-area forestry

Forestry sustainability sought

A new partnership has come together aimed at creating sustainability in Kamloops-area forestry.

Simpcw First Nation, Simpcw Resources Group and Arrow Group of Companies have a new partnership together as stakeholders in River City Fibre — a wood-chipping plant on Mission Flats that supplies fibre to the nearby Kruger pulp mill.

This partnership was finalized on May 1.

With this partnership Simpwc hopes to create new possibilities for economic development, but also preserving the lands. The Simpwc Resources Group will also play a major role in managing sustainability and forestry activities within the Simpwc territory.

"Building sustainability in our fibre supply chain is a strategic and operational priority for our mill," said Roman Gallo, Kruger's senior vice-president and COO.

"We also have a long-standing commitment to responsible sourcing. Our contract with River City Fibre helps us achieve our operational and community-focused objectives and we are excited to be developing our relationships with the Arrow Group, SRG, and the Simpcw First Nation."

There is no word yet on how many jobs the partnership is expected to create, or the economic impact.

“This collaboration signifies a significant step forward in achieving a balanced and holistic approach to land management, where economic prosperity goes hand in hand with environmental responsibility,” Simpcw Resources Group said in a news release

Aberdeen home damaged, but no injuries suffered as a result of structure fire

No injuries in Aberdeen fire

UPDATE: 5:51 p.m.

Firefighters say an Aberdeen mobile home will have extensive smoke damage after a fire started in the residence on Saturday afternoon.

Kamloops Fire Rescue crews were called out to the fire, which started at a house in Aberdeen Glen Village at 1555 Howe Rd., at about 4:30 p.m.

Will Harlock, KFR platoon captain, said the homeowner and pets were out of the residence when firefighters arrived.

“There were no injuries, no smoke inhalation,” Harlock said.

He said the official cause of the fire hadn't yet been determined, with fire prevention officers due to inspect the home in the coming days.

As of 5:15 p.m., firefighters were checking to make sure the fire hadn’t extended into other parts of the residence.

“Obviously the smoke damage in this small of a structure will be extensive,” Harlock said.

“We’re just searching for extensions right now on the roof. As you can see the guys with their saws — they’re just making sure that everything is 100 per cent out before we leave.”

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire before it spread, and Harlock said no neighbouring units or nearby vegetation were impacted by the blaze.

ORIGINAL: 5:03 p.m.

Kamloops Fire Rescue crews were battling a blaze Saturday afternoon at a mobile home park in Aberdeen.

Emergency crews were called to Aberdeen Glen Village, 1555 Howe Rd., at about 4:30 p.m. for a report of a structure fire.

Firefighters arrived to find a mobile home ablaze.

Smoke could be seen coming from the unit as crews worked to extinguish the fire just before 5 p.m.

Castanet Kamloops has a reporter at the scene. This story will be updated if more information becomes known.

Video shows man in handcuffs after fight in stands Friday during Memorial Cup opener

Arrested after fight at game

UPDATE: 3:49 p.m.

A Memorial Cup attendee who witnessed a brawl break out in the stands at Sandman Centre on Friday says people were shaken up after a man picked a fight with a Quebec Remparts fan and ended up getting arrested.

The QMJHL champions beat the Kamloops Blazers 8-3 during the tournament opener on Friday. Near the end of the third period, a fight appeared to break out in a balcony section near a group of Remparts fans and family members.

The witness, who asked to remain anonymous, said a man sitting nearby made comments and started bickering with a Remparts fan sitting directly in front of him.

The man left for a while, she told Castanet Kamloops, then walked back to his seat during the third period and immediately started hitting the other person.

“The guy in my row was just trying to start something for no reason,” she said, adding it’s sad this happened at a fun event.

A video taken of the fight aftermath shows an RCMP officer appearing to handcuff a man who is face down on the floor near Section AA, where the incident took place.

Yves Lacasse, chair of the Memorial Cup host organizing committee, told Castanet Kamloops he wants fans to have a good time and feel welcomed at the games. He said he was disappointed an incident like this happened during an otherwise positive and first-class tournament.

“Why would you want to come to a hockey game, get into a fight, potentially face criminal charges? That makes no sense to me,” Lacasse said.

“If that's the kind of people that you are, don't come. That’s not the kind of people that we want to see in our rink. Come and have fun.”

Do you know what happened, or do you have photos or video? Email [email protected] or call the Castanet Kamloops newsroom at 778-376-2151.


The chair of the Memorial Cup host organizing committee says he was disappointed to hear about a fight which broke out in Sandman Centre stands during Friday’s tournament opener, adding those looking to start trouble aren’t welcome in the arena.

The Kamloops Blazers faced off against the Quebec Remparts in front of a full house for the first game of the Memorial Cup on Friday evening, with the QMJHL champions skating to an 8-3 victory.

Near the end of the third period, a fight appeared to break out in the stands near a group of Remparts fans and family members.

Yves Lacasse, chair of the tournament's host committee, told Castanet Kamloops he became aware of an incident that happened close to the end of the game.

“I understand that there was a bit of a verbal argument that led to a minor altercation,” he said.

Lacasse said he didn’t have any information about who instigated the fight, noting staff, volunteers and police attended quickly and were able to separate the people involved. He said he believes one person was taken away by Mounties.

“An incident like this cannot overshadow all of the good stuff that's going on, but yes, I was very disappointed to hear that,” he said.

Lacasse reminded fans the Memorial Cup is a hockey tournament, “not life and death.”

“This is about kids competing for a trophy. We need to be there to cheer them on,” he said.

“Sometimes a game will go your way, and sometimes a game will not go your way, but that doesn’t mean that you need to go and argue with people and get into a fight. That’s not worth it.”

He said it “makes no sense” to him why anyone would want to come to a hockey game to get in a fight and end up potentially facing criminal charges.

“If that’s the kind of people that you are, don’t come," he said. "That’s not the kind of people that we want to see in our rink. Come and have fun.”

Lacasse said he wants fans to have a good time and feel welcomed at the Memorial Cup games, adding he hopes locals will display kindness and care towards others visiting the Tournament Capital for the week.

“If you're going to be travelling and go to another city to watch hockey games, you want to be treated properly, and welcomed with open arms — and that's what we want to do with our guests,” he said.

Castanet Kamloops has reached out to RCMP for more information about the incident.

Do you know what happened, or do you have photos or video? Email [email protected] or call the Castanet Kamloops newsroom at 778-376-2151.

Sun Peaks announces lineup for free summer concert series

Sun Peaks ready to rock

Sun Peaks officials have unveiled the resort's concert lineup for this summer, with shows running from Canada Day through September.

All concerts are at the community mountain amphitheater, and some artists include Canadian acts Shred Kelly and Delhi 2 Dublin.

The popular Retro Concert Weekend will also run Aug. 25 to Aug. 27, with bands covering KISS, U2, The Chicks and more.

There will be three pop-up venues set up throughout the village and on the side of the mountain.

All of the concerts are free, but seating is not provided. Attendees are welcome to bring their own chairs.

The full schedule can be found on the Sun Peaks website.

Tourism Kamloops seeks city's support to offer rentals, food at Riverside Park

Rentals, food at Riverside?

Tourism Kamloops is asking for support from city hall to offer sports equipment rentals and food services in Riverside Park this summer.

City council will consider and vote on Tourism Kamloops’ proposal at a council meeting on Tuesday.

In a report prepared for the upcoming council meeting, staff said allowing equipment rentals and refreshment sales in the park will help promote it as a destination for tourists and residents, and will benefit the local business community.

“Water and waterways have always been a main attractor for recreation, and the opportunity to expand on what is already offered would be beneficial to our community, visitors and businesses,” the report reads.

“Shifting from a passive experiential space to integrate supportive, relevant businesses would create greater enjoyment of the spaces within and around the park.”

Tourism Kamloops offered sporting equipment rentals — including kayaks, water bikes and lawn games — along with food and beverage services out of an old concession building in Riverside Park during the summer of 2021.

The heavily-debated initiative ran as a pilot project, as the concession building was slated for demolition later that year.

If this year’s proposal is approved by council, Tourism Kamloops will be the prime contractor overseeing business on city property. The tourism agency will manage third-party contractors conducting equipment rentals and food and beverage services within the park.

In the report, staff said there is space inside the newly constructed Riverside Park washroom and lifeguard building for Tourism Kamloops to run its operations.

Because a City of Kamloops bylaw prohibits commercial activity in city parks, council would need to authorize a one-year exemption for Tourism Kamloops’ proposal to move forward.

The report said Kamloops has increased potential to attract new residents, visitors and businesses, but “the window of opportunity is short,” with other communities also seeking to entice newcomers.

“To support this growth, Kamloops must expand traditional limitations and further its flexibility to the benefit of our residents and the business community,” the document reads.

Riverside Park has seen a number of infrastructure improvements recently completed, including a brand new splash park and fully accessible playground. The park also boasts a widened boardwalk and a soon-to-be-installed mobility beach mat, which the city says will allow people of all abilities to access the riverfront.

Repeat drunk driver avoids jail after injuring Kamloops woman, daughter in highway crash

Drunk driver avoids jail

A repeat drunk driver who injured a Kamloops woman and her 12-year-old daughter when he crashed into their vehicle on the Trans-Canada Highway in Valleyview last fall has avoided jail.

Glenn Derrick Gottfriedson, 58, pleaded guilty in Kamloops provincial court on Thursday to one count of impaired driving causing bodily harm.

Court heard Gottfriedson was drunk on Oct. 15, 2022, when he slammed his Ford Escape into a Toyota Rav-4 at the intersection of Vicars Road and the Trans-Canada Highway.

The collision took place at about 5:30 p.m. The Toyota was stopped at a red light headed west on the highway toward downtown when it was struck.

Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi said Gottfriedson was driving at a high rate of speed when he crashed into the vehicle. The impact pushed the Toyota through the intersection and nearly into the path of a passing train.

Varesi said the woman driving the Toyota suffered a mild head injury and her daughter was left with leg injuries.

“It’s fortunate their injuries were not more severe,” he added. “It’s extremely fortunate the vehicle did not come to a rest on the train tracks.”

Gottfriedson’s blood-alcohol level was 0.14 — nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08.

He has a dated history of drunk driving, with two convictions from the 1990s. He has also received two roadside prohibitions, most recently in 2019.

Varesi asked Kamloops provincial court Judge Marianne Armstrong to jail Gottfriedson for four months.

Defence lawyer Dan McNamee, meanwhile, suggested a sentence of house arrest.

McNamee said Gottfriedson was dealing with a personal issue the day before the crash and went on a bit of a bender. He said Gottfriedson lost his job with the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc band as a direct result of the collision.

Kamloops provincial court Judge Marianne Armstrong sided with McNamee, sentencing Gottfriedson to a six-month conditional sentence order, the first four months of which will be served under house arrest.

He was also ordered to apologize to the victims and to attend counselling as directed by his probation officer.

Dix confident as maternity doctors meet to discuss fate of Kamloops clinic

Maternity clinic may reopen

Kamloops maternity doctors are slated to meet in the coming days to decide whether it's feasible to reopen a clinic responsible for delivering most of the babies born in the city each month.

The Thompson Regional Family Obstetrics clinic, which delivers approximately 60 of the 100 babies born each month at Royal Inland Hospital, has stopped accepting new patients due to a doctor shortage.

TRFO Dr. Shaun Davis told Castanet Kamloops on Friday that doctors were planning to meet "in the next day or two." He said additional locum coverage has been secured that might make it possible for the TRFO clinic to begin accepting patients again.

The ministry of health has said repeatedly it is working with doctors and Interior Health to come up with a more permanent solution.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix, who was in Kamloops to announce progress on building a new cancer care centre at RIH, told reporters Thursday the work is still ongoing, and he expects to have an announcement soon.

“In part, it’s a payment model issue, and we’re working closely with the doctors to see that that's resolved, and make sure that people get the care that they need,” Dix said.

“My expectation is that we'll do that, and we'll have things to say about it soon.”

Weeks ago in the legislature, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone questioned Dix about the clinic closure, saying it’s “unacceptable” that expectant parents are having to scramble to try and access prenatal care, in some cases driving hours to see a doctor.

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