Kamloops restaurant forced to close due to vandalism in neighbourhood

·2 min read
Sunmei Fusion Cuisine and Bubble Tea restaurant at 413 Tranquille Road in Kamloops, B.C., has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, and its owners have decided not to reopen.  (Jenifer Norwell/CBC - image credit)
Sunmei Fusion Cuisine and Bubble Tea restaurant at 413 Tranquille Road in Kamloops, B.C., has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, and its owners have decided not to reopen. (Jenifer Norwell/CBC - image credit)

Cynthia Li co-owned a fairly successful restaurant in Kamloops, B.C., for about seven years, but it has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And though she wanted to reopen Sunmei Fusion Cuisine and Bubble Tea restaurant on 413 Tranquille Road when restrictions were lifted earlier this year, she said she ultimately decided not to because of continuing vandalism and street crimes in Kamloops' North Shore neighbourhood.

"This happened and happened again, and it's just very discouraging [for us] to continue," Li told CBC's Jenifer Norwell in front of her shuttered restaurant.

"It's at the front of the restaurant right now — some leftover food, and there's a table and umbrella. There [are] chairs and a lot of clothes," she said. "Just a mess. A lot of garbage."

Li said she believes people seeking help from The Loop Community Resource Centre next door, who are living with homelessness, are behind the vandalism and loitering, which have been issues troubling other businesses in the North Shore.

She said she appreciates The Loop for its work but wishes it didn't disrupt her business.

"It's a good thing that they help the homeless people, but I guess [they] need to be organized," she said.

"Maybe the city can do something to help the homeless people," she added. "They need a place to stay ... instead of staying at the front of our restaurant or our business."

Jenifer Norwell/CBC
Jenifer Norwell/CBC

In a statement to CBC, The Loop's co-ordinator Glenn Hilke said the vandalism and other issues in the North Shore are due to the lack of homeless shelters and drop-in spaces, which is indicative of the city's lack of commitment to supporting social services.

Ty Helgason, the City of Kamloops' social and community development supervisor, said his department has been working to get funding from the federal government, and working with B.C. Housing to identify potential sites for social housing and shelters.

He added the city is looking to increase shelter beds for the coming winter.

"We're currently operating at 125 beds and there [are] approximately 200 people in the community experiencing homelessness," he said Tuesday to host Shelley Joyce on CBC's Daybreak Kamloops.

Meanwhile, Li said she has put her restaurant property up for sale and is still waiting for a buyer. She said she's not sure what's next.

"There [are] a lot of people on Facebook ... still asking us ... when are we going to open. And I can't really give out an answer to them," she said.

"We do want to continue to run our business, but it seems this is just not the right place."

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