A North Kamloops Tim Hortons restaurant has closed indefinitely as a result of an incident last weekend that was the latest in a series of property crime and other social issues impacting the area.
At about 8:40 a.m. on Saturday, July 17, a man reportedly entered the business at 481 Tranquille Rd., went behind the counter, demanded milk from staff, poured it in his eyes, spewed mucus, yelled and screamed for more and was acting aggressively, though no one was reported to be physically harmed.
RCMP attended and arrested the man, and also seized a weapon, and the man has since been released on an undertaking. The disturbance was referenced on social media, with some posts indicating the man may have been pepper sprayed before entering the store.
A sign is now posted on the door of the Tim Hortons, reading “Closed until further notice.”
KTW contacted the owner of the business, who said he could not yet speak about what occurred.
North Shore Business Improvement Association executive director Jeremy Heighton said he spoke with the franchisee, who informed him they opted to close and will be “retooling their operations.”
Heighton said he is hopeful the business will reopen, but understands the need for the business to take a step back, reassess and look at security and staff protection.
Staff of the Tranquille Road restaurant are not expected to be laid off and have been transferred to other Tim Hortons locations in the meantime.
“We will continue to try and fight hard for business needs here on the North Shore, as well as throughout our community, because we believe there is a brighter future coming. It’s just a matter of getting everybody onside,” Heighton said.
The store has been subjected to numerous property crimes since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, including nine smashed windows that involved three break-ins — two of which occurred within a 36-hour window. The burglaries took place at about the same time as break-ins to neighbouring Jamaican Kitchen.
At that neighbouring restaurant, there were two break-ins within six weeks between early May and late June of this year, with a pair of windows smashed in the process. The break-ins had the Jamaican Kitchen owners pointing the finger at people who frequent social agencies in the area, such as the ASK Wellness Society and The Loop drop-in centre.
The Jamaican Kitchen and Tim Hortons share an alley, which ASK Wellness and ARPA Investments hired security to patrol due to a noticed increase in social disorder and crime.
Property crime and other social issues have become common around not only the Tim Hortons property, but the entirety of the 400- and 500-blocks of Tranquille Road.
Heighton said there is a large number of homeless people along that corridor, noting the NSBIA has been lobbying all levels of government to address criminality and mental-health issues from that population.
There has been reported drug use and overdoses in the area, Heighton said, noting he even helped revive someone experiencing an overdose about a month ago.
“It is a problematic issue and it’s highly prevalent on our corridors, both in front of and behind our businesses throughout the North Shore and downtown,” he said.
Heighton described the incident at Tim Hortons as unfortunate and noted the NSBIA is advocating for more policing supports and accountability for criminal activity.
“We have been actively involved in seeking alternate measures like security cameras, lighting, security forces, those types of things within our corridors and we’ll continue to push hard for those resources,” Heighton said.
He said everyone needs to be vocal in expressing to their political leaders that this is not a tolerable situation in cities.
“This is a problem which is dogging everybody — residents and businesses alike — and it is time for us to take a stand and say we deserve better from our response agencies, specifically RCMP and Crown prosecutorial services, and we deserve a better mental-health system that supports these folks who are in crisis,” Heighton said.
Kamloops RCMP has reported seeing an uptick in property crime since the onset of COIVD-19, with fewer eyes and ears on the street, particularity last spring when some businesses had to close down.
Health officials have also noted B.C.’s ongoing opioid overdose epidemic is being exacerbated by the pandemic, with more overdose deaths and usage alone due to social-distancing requirements.
Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week