Sicamous asks B.C. safety minister to meet over rising violence

The mayor of Sicamous has requested a meeting with B.C.'s public safety minister over rising violence in the municipality. (Columbia Shuswap Regional District - image credit)

Concerns over public safety are mounting in a small community in British Columbia's Shuswap region after the third homicide in a year.

The District of Sicamous said in a statement on Saturday that it wants a formal meeting with the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General to address worries over the increasing number of violent crimes in the area.

It comes after 66-year-old Jo Ann Jackson was found dead in the driveway of a local mobile home park last week. Jackson's death was called a homicide by the RCMP, who arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter but later released him on several conditions.

District Mayor Colleen Anderson says the decision to release the man, which came with a police warning about a potential public safety risk, has sparked unrest among the roughly 2,600 residents of Sicamous, located about 100 kilometres east of Kamloops, B.C.

"I think they're feeling a little bit frustrated. I don't think this is something that anyone's comfortable happening in their community," she told CBC News on Sunday. "There is a bit of weight here. People are sad — they're sad for Jo Ann's family and friends."

"Why are we catching and releasing so quickly?"'

RCMP says the suspect cannot be named because he has not been charged.

The police-imposed conditions include not returning to the property at 1707 Hillier Rd., where the woman died.

"He was put on a series of protective conditions to abide by," said Cpl. James Grandy in an interview with CBC News on Friday.

"Along with those conditions and RCMP resources that I'm not going to speak to ... we trust that there will be limited risk to the public."

Officials say Jackson's death is believed to be an isolated incident.

In an emailed statement to CBC News on Monday, RCMP Staff Sgt. Kris Clark said the police have "certain tools" at their disposal to address potential risks to public safety but did not provide details on the specific measures being implemented.

It's the third homicide in Sicamous since August 2023, according to the district's statement.

In February 2024, the RCMP detachment in Sicamous found one person dead following a shooting in the parking lot of the Best Western Hotel along the Trans-Canada Highway. Last August, police found the body of a missing man — whose disappearance RCMP said in a previous statement was the result of foul play —at a residence in Sicamous.

Both deaths are currently under investigation as homicides.

CBC News has contacted the RCMP Southeast District detachment for further updates on the two cases.

Public safety minister welcomes meeting

"For a community our size, it's devastating, and people are upset," said Anderson.

The mayor said she wants to meet with the public safety ministry to discuss changes to the process for releasing suspects.

"We're asking for an audience with them to have a discussion about the process and perhaps there's some changes that need to be made to the process as far as people being released and not held," she added.

In an emailed statement to CBC News, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he is committed to ensuring community safety and addressing acts of violence with the "full force of the law."

"I look forward to meeting with the District of Sicamous to address their community's public safety concerns and hope to have a meeting scheduled soon," he wrote.

The minister said he has full confidence in the officers investigating Jackson's murder in bringing those responsible to justice.

RCMP say the investigation into the case is ongoing and is asking for video or dashcam footage from between 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. on June 19 from Hillier Road to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 1-877-987-8477.