A recent break-in at a restaurant in Kamloops, B.C., has become the last straw for local businesses troubled by crimes over the years.
On Monday, the North Shore Business Improvement Association wrote an open letter to the mayor and RCMP superintendent demanding a formal review of the city's community safety mechanisms, after Jamaican Kitchen on Tranquille Road was broken into and vandalized in the middle of the night.
The restaurant owner said on Facebook that the property was damaged by vandals eight months ago, but the damage on Monday was even more devastating: the front door was smashed, and cash, cookware and alcoholic beverages were stolen.
"It illustrates so clearly what we have been telling the city, RCMP and others over the last 18 months — we are in a state of siege in our city over the lack of accountability for vandalism, criminality and issues which erode our sense of safety," the association said in the letter.
The association's executive director, Jeremy Heighton, says businesses on Tranquille Road have lost nearly $170,000 over the years in costs associated with vandalism, graffiti, thefts and crime prevention — even after the city hired security guards to patrol the neighbourhood overnight.
Heighton says he wants the city and the RCMP to take a hard look at the criminal justice system.
"We want them to actually say this is the problem," he said Thursday to Shelley Joyce, the host of CBC's Daybreak Kamloops. "We are not talking about social services-supported housing. We are talking about willful criminal activity which operates with impunity."
Mayor Ken Christian says there are no easy solutions to complicated problems.
"A lot of people say 'lock them up' … other people say 'send them home,'" Christian said Friday on Daybreak Kamloops. "Everybody is always telling me and the rest of the council about quick fixes, but quite frankly, they don't work and they're usually overstated."
Christian says the city may try other security measures this summer if overnight patrolling doesn't work for Tranquille Road businesses.
In a written statement to CBC News, the Kamloops RCMP says it looks forward to working with community partners to reduce crimes across the city.