Controversial home at 235 Nickel Rd. in Kelowna. (Brittany Webster/Black Press)

Controversial home at 235 Nickel Rd. in Kelowna. (Brittany Webster/Black Press)

September: Protest leads to eviction in Rutland home

Nickel Road home boarded up in September

For some time, a property in the 200-block of Nickel Road in Kelowna was a topic of conversation around town leading up to a September eviction.

On Sept. 17, members of the neighbourhood got together for a peaceful protest to come up with more ideas of how to handle the house that made the neighbourhood feel unsafe.

“(We want) to bring awareness to the community and to city hall of what is going on and the impact it has taken on our environment where we live here,” said Andrew Kuiask.

“I’m losing neighbours left, right, and centre because they’re being intimidated, bullied, heckled, harassed and we shouldn’t have to move because of the drugs, the stealing, and whatever else goes on here.”

The house was subject to many police visits and incidents for more than a year, including an extensive police presence just a couple days prior.

“(The police) are pretty much here everyday,” said Andrew.

“It’s nonstop…something needs to be done more, that’s why were getting the community together to brainstorm ideas and come up with hopefully some solutions.”

Andrew and the rest of the neighbourhood were sitting across the street in protest and made signs. Many cars that drove past honked and rolled their windows down to voice their support of the protest.

On the other side of the street, the people in the house picked up on the protest and cleaned up the front of the house.

Two days later, boards were seen being put up.

Two police vehicles also were on-hand during the boarding up, though it is uncertain what role they played.

Several people were seen going in and out of the home, along with multiple pets.

Property owner Amit Chopra lives out of town and said his message to city council and the Kelowna mayor weeks before went unanswered.

Chopra said he bought the house about a year prior, and at the time it was supposed to be vacant, but since the purchase, he has been challenged by squatters causing a nuisance in the neighbourhood.

He has been contacting RCMP since April to assist in removing the squatters.

“Police did what they could, but they also kind of offered us no help.”

After failed attempts to gain assistance from police or the city, Chopra said he called up local businessman David Habib after hearing Habib might be able to offer some advice on how to handle the situation.

“My ultimate goal was to get my place back…The house had become a nuisance to the whole neighbourhood as it became the centre of illegal activity, prostitution, you name it. Everything was going on there. Our city is not helping me, RCMP is not helping me, so I asked David to help me out. I’m lucky that I called.”

With Chopra residing elsewhere he granted Habib and friends in the construction industry permission to act on his behalf and go to 235 Nickel Rd. on Sept. 19, to board up the windows.

Capital News was on scene while crews boarded up all but the front door and then patiently negotiated with the squatters for more than an hour on a timeline to vacate the property.

The meeting concluded with handshakes and an agreement to give the squatters ten days to remove themselves from the property.

Chopra said he couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

“Without any violence, without any confrontation, we reached an agreement. What better could you ask for?

“The cops couldn’t get it done nor could the city could get it done. It’s David who got it done and I’m really thankful.”

KelownaYear in Review

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