PQB News 2021 year in review: August

Bhangra dance instructor Gurdeep Pandher leads a group with his 'happy dance' moves at the Parksville Community Park on Saturday, Aug. 7. (Michael Briones photo)
An injured biker is secured to a stretcher on the back of a utility task vehicle after being rescued by Arrowsmith Search and Rescue from the HammerFest mountain biking trails near the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. (Submitted photo)
Fourteen-year-old Kwalikum Secondary School student illustrates children’s book ‘The Amazing Adventures of Anna the Rat,’ written by retired elementary school teacher from Quadra Island, Michael Redican. (Submitted photo).
Keira Gilbeirt, Jenna Hohnstein, Tyson Hohnstein, Teesha Hohnstein and Zachary Hohnstein are selling lemonade on 435 Morison Avenue to raise funds for their brother who has cancer. (Michael Briones photo)

The unique and challenging year that was 2021, a year dominated again by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, has drawn to a close. While the coronavirus stories took centre stage much of the year, there was still plenty of other news in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. Here’s a look back at highlights from the PQB News from August.

Aug. 4

• A project that included the installation of a public plaza on Memorial Avenue in Parksville will proceed with city council approval.

The senior engineering technologist for the city, Michael Lonsdale, went before city council to present the Hirst Avenue West and Memorial Avenue Renewal Project, which includes an open concept plaza on Memorial and roadway changes on Hirst.

The project also included underground infrastructure such as the storm, sanitary and water mains.

For Hirst Avenue West, Lonsdale said the configuration of the street itself will remain similar to its current layout.

• Two conservation groups were raising funds to preserve the French Creek Estuary, and aimed to create the first eagle preserve on Vancouver Island.

The Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and Save Estuary Land Society had been working hand-in-hand to achieve the goal.

The estuary, located near Columbia Drive between the City of Parksville and the Town of Qualicum Beach, is 23 acres of forested land.

French Creek House is poised to gift over 12 acres of their land to the community for the Eagle Preserve and would prefer to sell their remaining five acres for conservation to add to the preserve.

The FFCCS and SELS aimed to raise $500,000 toward the purchase of the remaining five acres to add them to eagle preserve they want to establish at the estuary.

• The City of Parksville sought to further improve safety and accessibility at the Lions Ventureland Playground.

Manager of communications for the city, Deb Tardiff, advised council a grant to help communities build and improve infrastructure, in efforts to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, could be used to improve accessibility around the Parksville Community Park playground.

Tardiff said city staff have identified the completion of a sidewalk around the perimeter of the playground, approximated to 100 linear metres, and further rubber surfacing of the playground by approximately 370 square metres.

“The playground, as everyone knows, is the centrepiece of the park for years,” said Tardiff at a July 19 council meeting. “My understanding it that it’s important for children with different abilities, when they’re using the playground, to be able to go around and determine where it is they’re going to feel most comfortable. It also allows parents with strollers to circumnavigate the playground.”

Aug. 11

• In the spring of 2020, the province provided funding to conduct homeless counts in 16 B.C. communities.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only eight of the 16 communities were able to conduct their counts before March 17, 2020, when British Columbia’s Provincial Health Officer declared a public health emergency.

The remaining eight communities, which included the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, completed their counts in 2021 with additional pandemic precautions.

The Homelessness Services Association of BC, with support from BC Non-Profit Housing Association and Urban Matters, co-ordinated these counts and prepared this report.

Data from the count communities constituted a benchmark to measure progress made to reduce homelessness over time.

• Thanks to the swift response of Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR), an injured biker along the HammerFest mountain biking trails was in the back of an ambulance within an hour and 10 minutes from when the call was received.

On Sunday, Aug. 1, at 11:13 a.m., ASAR was dispatched to the chain of interconnected biking trails near the Englishman River Falls Provincial Park, to recover the injured woman who had been biking with her friends.

Nick Rivers, search and rescue manager, said they were unsure of how she came off her bike, but the incident led to a lower leg injury.

“It wasn’t an obvious break but it could have been a break, or a fracture, or a severe sprain.”

• When 14-year-old Kwalikum Secondary School student Teegan Walshe first submitted her drawings to Michael Redican, author of the children’s book The Amazing Adventures of Anna the Rat, little did she know that her passion would turn into philanthropy.

It all started when Walshe learned of Redican and his work while visiting her aunt on Quadra Island last summer.

She then decided to illustrate scenes from his stories as a means to develop her own artistic skill and to keep busy during the pandemic, something she has also done for other stories that piqued her interest.

Shortly after, Redican contacted Walshe and she became the illustrator for his whole book.

According to a release sent to PQB News, Redican, a retired elementary school teacher, started writing about Anna the Rat when he noticed how some early learning books weren’t holding the attention of children learning to read and wanted to write stories that would appeal to their interests and capture their imaginations.

• Bhangra dancer and social media sensation Gurdeep Pandher of the Yukon made a brief stop at the Parksville Community Park on Saturday (Aug. 7) to spread some joy and happiness with his lively dancing.

Pandher, on Vancouver Island to share his message of love and inclusiveness, performed one dance and followed it up by asking onlookers to join him.

He taught them a short dance move, and for every step shown, always ends up with an exuberant expression of the word “happy.”

The Sikh-Canadian began making Bhangra dance videos and sharing them on social media to help spread joy, hope and positivity.

His videos often feature him dancing and collaborating with musicians playing a wide variety of musical styles, illustrating how our differing worlds can find harmony, together.

Aug. 18

• Canadians headed to the polls on Sept. 20.

The announcement was made by Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau after a visit to Gov. Gen. Mary Simon on Sunday (Aug. 15) morning.

The Parliament Simon dissolved stood at 155 seats for the Liberals, 119 for the Conservatives, 32 for the Bloc Quebecois, 24 for the NDP and two for the Greens.

There are also four Independents and one vacant seat.

“This is a really big moment,” said Trudeau, adding that Parliament “needs a mandate” from the voters on how to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada was in the middle of the fourth wave during the election, with case counts rising around the country.

• The sentencing of an impaired driver involved in a fatal hit-and-run incident in Parksville in late August 2019 continued on Tuesday, Aug. 24.

On Aug. 12, a sentencing hearing for Ryan John Grob, 36, began at the Nanaimo courthouse where Crown counsel, Nick Barber, took court through the timeline of events that led to the fatal hit-and-run and the death of Spencer Alexander Moore.

In October 2020, Oceanside RCMP issued a release stating that Grob and Travis Zackery Taylor, a passenger in Grob’s Ford F-350, were arrested in connection with the death of Moore.

In February of 2021, Grob pleaded guilty to the charge of impaired driving causing death, and was in court on Thursday (Aug. 12) to hear the determination of the length and conditions of his sentencing.

• Children from a Parksville family held a lemonade sale on Satrday (Aug. 14) to raise funds for one their siblings, who has been diagnosed with Astrocytoma grade 3 aggressive brain cancer.

Tyson, the spokesperson of the group, said they would like to raise whatever they can to help with some of the things his brother Brodie Martini may need money for.

The Hohnstein children, including Jenna, Teesha, Zachary and cousin Keira Gilbeirt were out on Morison Avenue, selling lemonade for a $1.

They handed out free cookies and thank-you cards created by Kiera for people who would drop by and buy a lemonade.

Tyson said they did not set a specific amount of money that they want to raise and whatever they get, they will still be happy.

Aug. 25

• When Ontario resident Maureen Terrey was spotted floating, unconscious, in the waters off Parksville beach, she was eternally grateful that a nearby family trained in water rescue came to her aid.

On Tuesday, Aug. 3, at approximately 6 p.m., BC Emergency Health Services received a call regarding a potential drowning near McMillan Street and Beachside Drive in Parksville.

Two ground ambulances, as well as an air ambulance helicopter, was quickly dispatched to the scene.

Terrey said she doesn’t remember much of the rescue itself, but does remember being in the helicopter surrounded by “big guys” who kept turning her onto her side.

She and her friend had been staying at the Sea Edge Motel, an annual trip they make to specifically swim at Parksville Beach.

“I was just out there swimming by myself. I am an experienced swimmer, it’s not that I didn’t know what I was doing.”

• Arrowsmith Search and Rescue crews were dispatched twice within two hours on Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Search and rescue manager Nick Rivers said they received the first call at approximately 1 p.m. from the BC Ambulance Service, to assist an injured woman who required evacuation from Mount Schofield in the Cook Creek area.

The woman was riding a light all-terrain vehicle, and was injured when the ‘quad’ rolled over, causing what Rivers suspected were broken bones and internal injuries, before continuing to roll down a 200-metre embankment.

“She was lucky she was at the top and didn’t get sucked down with the quad,” he said. “However, advanced first aid protocols were required on site.”

• On Thursday, Aug. 19, Arrowsmith Search and Rescue (ASAR) was the recipient of a $9,200 cheque from the charity organization 100 Oceanside Men Who Give A Damn. The donation was presented by group representatives John O’Brien, Terry Kelly, Bob Cram, Kim Burden and Rudi Widdershoven.

Burden said the search and rescue organization was chosen during the most recent quarterly meeting, where members vote on which Parksville Qualicum Beach charity they would like to donate to.

The sum of the donation was pooled together by each member giving $100.

Burden said this was the first time that 100 Oceanside Men Who Give A Damn have donated to ASAR.

“Its important that we serve as many possible charities as we can over our 12 year cycle,” he said.

• Nanoose Bay golfer Stephen Watson finished fifth in his first B.C. Senior Golf Championship in Kimberley.

Watson carded a 71-71-72 for a 2-under-par total of 214 in the tournament that had 140 participants from all over the province. He was three shots behind eventual winner Michael Kennedy of North Vancouver at 211.

Kennedy won in a playoff over Norman Bradley of Kelowna.

“I hit the ball very well but my putting was not good so it made the difference in not winning,” said Watson. “I was going there with the hopes of winning. I had been playing well lately.”

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