PQB News year in review, October to December, 2018
• More than $30,000 was raised at the Beer and Burger Night during the Tour De Rock cycling team’s visit on Sept. 27. One of Parksville’s most prolific volunteers, Joan Lemoine, had her head shaved for what she said was the last time, and manage to raise about $7,000 that night for Camp Goodtimes.
• The RDN is working on a new collaborative housing strategy, prompted by the new National Housing Strategy, which emphasizes partnerships to deal with the housing crisis. The current rental supply backlog in the RDN is 1,779 units. The board gave staff direction to purse a regional approach focusing on partnerships, a regional affordable housing service and a reserve fund.
• Dairy farmer and co-owner of Morningstar Farm in Parksville said he’s disappointed with the renegotiated trade pact between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, saying it terribly weakens the Canadian dairy industry. “We will produce less milk because of the importing,” said Gourlay.
• School District 69 (Qualicum) looked to define when physically restraining and/or secluding a student is OK.
“Any intervention that involves physical restraint or seclusion may only be used in cases of extreme emergency where the physical actions of the student threaten to cause harm to self or others,” reads the proposed policy.
• Qualicum Bay residents Susan and Tony Doig are in the midst of creating their own earthship-inspired home. With the help of volunteers interested in eco-friendly building, the pair are creating a home that harnesses passive and active solar energy, re-uses water multiple times and is built out of recycled materials such as tires.
• The need for housing (especially the less expensive variety) and the content and pace of development were among the top issues discussed at a Qualicum Beach all-candidates meeting on Oct. 2. The meeting saw all 11 candidates for the coming Oct. 20 municipal election attend, as well as hundreds of voters who packed the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, some of them having to stand or sit on the floor.
• The northern Vancouver Island region saw a boon of more than $4 million thanks to major entertainment productions being filed in the area, according to the Vancouver Island North Film Commission. Those productions include Disney’s Descendants 3, Hallmark Channel’s Chesapeake Shores, and Paramount Pictures’ live Sonic the Hedgehog movie.
• French Creek’s Morningstar Golf Club was up for sale. The club was placed on receivership by the Supreme Court of British Columbia on June 1 after its former owners filed for bankruptcy last year. “A new owner will hopefully inject the necessary money into the entire operation to bring it back to a standard that it’s currently headed towards under the receiver,” said PQB News golf columnist Bill Flower.
• A Parksville resident went to jail after stealing items (including cell phones) from change rooms at Oceanside Place Arena in Parksville. Adult hockey players who noticed their items missing used a Find My Phone app which led them to a wooded area in Parksville where the thief, 60-year0old Vincent Powley, was camping alone. He received a 45-day jail sentence.
• Oceanside RCMP seized a vehicle they say was used to flee the scene of a break-and-enter incident in Qualicum Beach on Thursday morning. The break-and-enter, in the 400 block of Judges Row, was interrupted by a neighbour, who police say was then assaulted by a male suspect who left the scene in a white Mitsubishi RVR.
• Some communities around the country saw retail pot shops open since legalization on Wednesday, but Parksville won’t give the green light for retail cannabis businesses until at least Jan. 31. However, Parksville has already received two referrals from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch from those looking to open a retail cannabis store.
• The American-based Student Spaceflight Experiments Program invited SD69 to develop science experiments, and will select one to travel to the International Space Station. Participating students will learn about forces, motion and gravity in their science classes, then break into teams to design experiments and write research proposals for the microgravity environment of space.
• For the first time in nearly two decades, Parksville and Qualicum Beach each has a new mayor at the same time. Ed Mayne is the new mayor of Parksville, defeating former councillor Kirk Oates by more than 1,000 votes, while Brian Wiese in Qualicum Beach’s new mayor, defeating former councillor Anne Skipsey by about 600 votes.
• Three new faces were elected to represent Area G, Area H and Area F for the Regional District of Nanaimo. Leanne Salter was elected to Area F, Stuart McLean to Area H and Clarke Gourlay to Area G.
• Total municipal election voter turnout in Qualicum Beach reached 57.46 per cent, down from about 60 per cent in 2014. Parksville saw about 43 per cent of approximately 10,000 eligible voters vote, compared to 35.2 per cent in 2014.
• Parksville Qualicum Haven House celebrated its fifth anniversary, after SOS and Haven Society partnered to open the house in 2013. The house helps local women and children who are fleeing abuse by giving them a place to live. The first year in operation confirmed the need for the house, with 124 nights full, and seven women having to be turned away.
School District 69 (Qualicum) said it’s doing its part to mitigate the natural gas shortage by turning down the temperature in all of its facilities by two degrees Celsius. This is to reduce natural gas usage due to the gas pipeline explosion that took place OCt. 9 northeast of Prince George.
• A transit rider spoke out about what she calls poor bus service for students and employees from Parksville Qualicum Beach who study and work at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo. Irene Champagne, a clinical counsellor and academic advisor in International Student Services at VIU, has raised the issue with the Regional District of Nanaimo, highlighting the late arrival of the buses in the Parksville Qualicum Beach Area.
• The carcass of a male black bear, with its paws and head removed, was discovered last week by several dog walkers under power lines on Corcan Road near the Meadowood subdivision in Qualicum Beach. The incident is now under investigation by the BC Conservation Officer Service, with conservation officer Stuart Bates saying that hunters are legally required to remove all the edible portions from animals that they harvest.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo will switch to an automated waste collection system. The board made the decision, although not unanimously, at its regular October meeting to direct staff to begin a request for proposals for automated collection of garbage, recycling and organics.
• Workers at Parksville’s post officer were back on the job Friday — one day after the building was evacuated due to a suspicious package. A postal worker was processing the mail on Thursday when a powdered substance became apparent on a package. The substance was determined to be a grooming product.
• A house in downtown Parksville suffered extensive damage from what fire officials deemed a suspicious blaze that took place early Friday morning. “It looks like it started on the outside of the structure and we will be investigating along with the RCMP,” said Parksville Fire Chief Marc Norris of the fire on Hirst Avenue East.
• The provincial government put the brakes on the only stretch of highway on Vancouver Island where it is legal to go 120 kilometres per hour. Included in a speed limit rollback — which is expected to be in effect by the end of the week — is the Inland Island Highway from Parksville to Campbell River (reduced from 110 km/h from 12), Highway 1, Cowichan Bay to Nanaimo (90 to 80) and Highway 19, Bloedel to Sayward (100 to 90).
• Parksville was ranked as the 102nd-most dangerous place in Canada. The 2019 report from Maclean’s magazines ranks Canada’s most dangerous cities based on Statistics Canada data, including info on police-reported crime.
• A Qualicum First Nation graveyard was vandalized, with a disturbing racial slur spray painted on a memorial for one of the community’s members. Tanna Weir, a councillor with the First Nation, said the graffiti that targets Indigenous peoples was discovered on Friday by her brother-in-law. The plaque on the memorial was also stolen and the sprinkler system was damaged.
• Dashwood fire crews responded quickly to a massive house blaze Friday at a residence on Oakdowne Road. Fortunately the occupant was not home at the time and no injuries were reported.
• Five people in B.C. became sick due to E. coli after consuming products from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, prompting a warning form the BC Centre for Disease Control. The centre said Tuesday that anyone who bought the company’s Qualicum Spice cheese should return it or throw it out.
• School zone speeders in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area may get more than just a ticket if they’re caught. They may also get a child’s drawing with a message showing what would happen if they don’t slow down — messages that Youth Officer Const. Danielle Swanson said appear to have a deeper impact than tickets.
• BC Housing applied to become a respondent alongside the City of Parksville against a petition calling for the reversal of a rezoning bylaw for 222 Corfield, where a supporting housing facility is planned. BC Housing said it and the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation should be made respondents as they are the entity funding and managing the project, and because they hold the lease for the 222 Corfield site.
• After several days of rigorous testing, the search continued for the source of the contaminant that resulted in the recall of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks’ Qualicum Spice cheese on Nov. 13. “We heard back yesterday about test results and there is still nothing conclusive about the source of the contamination, but we’re, at this point, confident that it wasn’t from raw milk,” said Raymond Gourlay, Little Qualicum Cheeseworks co-owner.
• The Manna Homeless Society was issued a cease and desist order from the City of Parksville to stop giving out food and medical services on city-owned property. The society has provided support from a parking lot on Jensen Ave. West, next to city hall where several homeless persons make camp. The city has had to do regular clean-up at the site, though Manna says it is not the cause of the refuse.
• Local MLAs Michelle Stilwell (BC Liberals, Parksville-Qualicum) and Scott Fraser (NDP, Mid Island-Pacific Rim) gave their views on the electoral reform referendum. Stilwell said some pro rep models have merit, but said the NDP government has rushed through the referendum process and left voters without enough info to make a decision, while Fraser said people have been provided with plenty of information, saying pro rep gives voters more choice and a stronger voice.
• Although the City of Parksville ordered Manna Homeless Society to cease helping the less fortunate on the city’s Jensen Avenue West property, others showed up to take their place Saturday morning (Nov. 24). Individuals and church groups began setting up at about 9 a.m., providing food, shoes, coffee and other clothing items.
• Approximately 50 people in Port Alberni, and 20 in Parksville attended Ministry of Transportation meetings to discuss safety concerns and possible options for Highway 4 and the parking area in Cathedral Grove. Government stats showed that 530 pedestrians cross Highway 4 at Cathedral Grove every two hours during summer days.
• A former drug addict turned advocate wanted to share her story of success and how she believes treatment is a fundamental solution to addiction. Kelly, who did not want to share her last name, has organized a public education seminar on Nov. 30 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Garry Oakes room at the Parksville Community Centre.
• Manna Homeless Society changed the kind of support it gives, in hopes of focusing on the vast majority of homeless and impoverished people who are willing to work on their own care, said Manna director Robin Campbell. To that end, Manna will only be providing small amounts of food and clothing, and only on an emergency basis, while focusing instead on providing health support.
• The generosity of Parksville-area residents and beyond continues to grow as SOS has once again seen greater numbers of toys and money donations to the annual Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive. When all was tallied, the number of toys went from 1,990, up from 1,693 last year; gift cards to $4,573, up from $3,972; and cash and cheque donations at $9,320, up from $9,090 from last year.
• With hopes of providing a better life for a Syrian refugee family, Qualicum Beach resident Jada Morgan sought the public’s help to bring a mother, father and five children to the Oceanside community. During a three-month trip to Lebanon, Morgan came to know a family of Syrian refugees with five children living in a two-bedroom home.
• Officials believe the French Creek water system needs an upgrade. The Regional District of Nanaimo board has approved a plan to improve the system due to extremely high levels of iron and manganese in the water that occasionally turns the colour of the water to dark brown, like tea, while still meeting health requirements. The project is expected to cost about $1.8 million.
• A group of about 50 people who attended a meeting on addiction and treatment wanted action after hearing the stories of six presenters, most of them recovered addicts who said treatment is the answer, though too many people can’t get it. Presenters called for pressure to be brought on politicians and gave various other suggestions, including for a detox and treatment centre to be built near to but outside of Parksville.
• A partnership between the Regional District of Nanaimo and Vancouver Island University was being forged to establish an odour monitoring program at the French Creek Pollution Control Centre. The centre, which absorbs and treats wastewater from 27,000 people and businesses in Qualicum Beach, Parksville and regional service areas, has received complaints about the odour emanating from the facility.
• Manna Homeless Society and the City of Parksville appeared to have mended their relationship. After the city sent a cease and desist letter to the society requiring that they stop providing support to the homeless on public property at Jensen Avenue and the mayor saying there was no need to discuss the issue with Manna directors, a subsequent meeting between the mayor and Manna directors resulted in a statement of co-operation and appreciation for Manna’s new focus on providing health care support from various other locations.
• Multiple businesses on Resort Drive in Parksville reported Christmas decorations stolen from their holiday displays. Seven lightup reindeer were reported stolen on Nov. 29, and there was another report of a carousel horse with lights being stolen from the front lawn of Sunrise Ridge Resort. A large blow-up snowman decoration also went missing from Ocean Trails Resort.
• A car chase from Parksville to Lantzville ended with a woman being detained under the Mental Health Act. RCMP from Oceanside, Nanaimo and Central Island Traffic Services were involved in the incident on the Island Highway, in which the motorist was stopped by spike belts at Ware Road in Lantzville.
• Close to 14 acres of land adjacent to French Creek that was being looked at for development was set aside for parkland. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Dec. 11 by members of hte Friends of French Creek Conservation Society (FFCCS), the French Creek Residents’ Association (FCRA) and with developer Quinn Griesdale of French Creek Estates and French Creek Houses Ltd., to designate close to 14 acres of the 23 acres owned by French Creek Estates as parkland.
• Serious Coffee and Pacific Brimm Cafe in Parksville were both broken into Saturday night. Nothing was stolen from Serious Coffee, while Pacific Brimm Cafe had their cash boxes stolen. Both establishments sustained damage.
• Qualicum Beach council passed a motion asking for staff to look into the feasability and cost of painting a rainbow crosswalk. The decision saw Coun. Teunis Westbroek the only one to vote against the motion, saying in another community, other groups soon wanted crosswalks of their own after a rainbow crosswalk had been painted.
• A man in his 60s died following an all-terrain-vehicle accident on forest service roads near Cook Creek, with Oceanside RCMP responding on Dec. 3. Meanwhile, a cyclist was recovering in hospital after being hit by a vehicle which left the scene on Island Highway West near the Alberni Highway on Dec. 14.
• There was no decision made on the lawsuit against the City of Parksville with regards to its rezoning of 222 Corfield for a supportive housing facility at BC Housing’s first day in court on Dec. 17. BC Housing applied to be a respondent (along with the city) to the petition made by Ron Chiovetti, Melanie Van Der Stock, Adam Fras (now a Parksville councillor) and others.
• A Dec. 20 windstorm had knocked out power to thousands in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, elsewhere on the Island and on the Lower Mainland. Locally, the storm caused fires and traffic problems for several days, with fire and BC Hydro crews responding to issues for days.
• A stolen carousel horse ornament was recovered after being stolen from Sunrise Ridge Resort in Parksville in November. A report that the horse was in a ditch on Church Road came up empty, but the horse was later recovered when a woman contacted the resort to say she had found the horse in that same ditch.
• Qualicum Beach-based French Press Coffee Roasters earned a silver medal at the world’s largest coffee roasters competition. The business submitted their Home blend roast which took silver in the milk-based category of the Golden Bean competition this year.