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CITY ISSUES – Councillor, Facebook page host square off over hotel purchase

Lot behind Northbridge Hotel. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

A tense exchange erupted yesterday (Oct. 15, 2021) between Coun. Dale Bass and Jesse Ritcey, who hosts the Kamloops Dialogue Nexus page on Facebook. The topic was the purchase by the City of the Northbridge Hotel on Tranquille Road and a lot behind the hotel. Stated use for the hotel is future development of market housing, while the property behind it will be the subject of a deal between the City and BC Housing for construction of affordable housing.

Ritcey began with this:

“The planned sale of the Duchess property, along with the demolition of properties downtown to make way for the Kelson Group’s City Gardens project, and the student housing shortage, are putting a serious squeeze on the low income housing pool.

“We should be immediately considering options to retain the Duchess as affordable housing. No sitting councilor or the Mayor has expressed support for this (yet), but we do have an election next year. We should also take a second look at how to get modular camp housing going at TRU.

“Having a shortage of affordable housing creates a bottleneck along the housing continuum, creating a greater need for emergency shelter space.”

After a couple of other comments were received, Bass became involved and it went like this:

Bass: We haven’t. I’m pretty sure we have all said the plan for the hotel site is affordable market housing as per CMHC guidelines.

Ritcey: In the simplest terms the current Council/Mayor policy is:

346 Campbell Avenue (Parking lot/liquor store)- work with BC Housing on an affordable housing project

377 Tranquille Road (Duchess) – current residents evicted, sold to private developer who will put up standard market rental space

It is Tranquille Road property we disagree on. Social advocates are saying, hey wait, you’ll just make things worse if those people get evicted, let’s work together to ensure that does not happen.

Bass: And again, we have made it clear the site is not being dealt with for some time, residents will be assisted in finding other places to live, it’s likely at least a two-year process, the plan is affordable market housing as per CMHC guidelines ( which I note you did not acknowledge) and I find it no longer amusing but simply annoying that you continue to think we don’t listen to the experts on these matters and work together. I would have thought you knew better than that.

Ritcey: I didn’t include all the spin about ‘finding residents other places to live’ because there are no other places to live. That’s just a way to duck the blame for making people homeless.

You want acknowledgement there, then do the right thing and issue a guarantee that the property won’t be touched until all current residents have been relocated. Or better yet, leave the building and the people who live there alone.

I’m not sure what you’re talking about with ‘affordable market housing’, that’s a contradiction. All public reporting to date and the October 5th public release has said Campbell Avenue is the affordable housing and Tranquille is to be sold off as the market housing.

And no, the City does not currently listen very well to people, whether it is experts or citizens. Huge amount of work needs to be done there. Tanya Spahman do you feel listened to on these issues?

Bass: we have said affordable market housing. Maybe you weren’t listening. We have said we will find other places for the current tenants and we will.

You are assuming no new appropriate housing will happen bug have no information on which to base that other than your own skepticism.

And you are confusing listening to people with automatically agreeing with what they are saying , which is not always the case. And you are forgetting thst under the Community Charter there are many times when we are legally required to say nothing.

You actually should run for council, get elected and then experience the realities we live with.

As for not listening, I so wish you would get elected to discover we are listening to so much people you are unaware of. It’s not just those in your echo chamber.

Bass: And with that I have to go deal with next week’s agendas and returning another eight calls from people I apparently don’t listen to.

Ritcey: Here is the report if folks want to read it themselves and decide. It is pretty clear right there, unless you have access to other information, that the Duchess is going to be sold off to a developer for market housing and that ‘help’ and ‘assistance’ will be offered the current residents, which is pretty weak language:

https://kamloops.civicweb.net/…/MEM_Release%20from…

About Mel Rothenburger (8573 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

1 Comment on CITY ISSUES – Councillor, Facebook page host square off over hotel purchase

  1. I don’t fully understand why would the City buy the old Dutchess if the plan to re-sell it to a developer. The taxpayers are the ones typically on the losing end of such transactions. It may be part of a plan, a sketchy plan it obviously is and a plan that should have been put together long ago. There are many examples from around the world where cities have prepared for and delivered affordable housing in such a manner as to provide for a good example to follow. Yeah council does listen, I am sure of that, but are they listening to the right advice? Ritcey is correct in his skepticism in my opinion.

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