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PQB News 2021 year in review: January

Year began with Parksville floods

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 January.

Jan. 6

Fourteen Parksville residents were displaced following flooding along Martindale Road on Saturday, Jan. 2.

Catherine Morrison, an emergency planning co-ordinator with the Regional District of Nanaimo, said the residents were provided hotel accommodations by the Regional District of Nanaimo and Emergency Management BC. She said Martindale Road is within a floodplain, and residents there are prepared for flooding.

While the RDN issued an evacuation alert for Martindale Road, Morrison said the alert is put in place as a preventative measure to allow residents to “get ready” and “prepare early” for potential evacuation orders.

No injuries were reported after a massive early-morning blaze lit up the dark sky Sunday (Jan. 3) in Coombs.

Coombs Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department attended the blaze, arriving on-scene at approximately 2 a.m. Other detachments from Deep Bay to Lantzville also responded to the scene. One firefighter on-scene said flames climbed to almost 100 feet in the air at one point.

Incident commander Capt. Brad Cornish said there was fire coming out on the side of the structure when they arrived. The building, formerly the Sanctuary of the Rastafarian Order church, is located between Station Road and Ford Road along Alberni Highway. There was nobody inside the building. A residential home behind the property also caught fire. Two residents were able to leave the house safely.

Jan. 13

The City of Parksville has lost its most beloved volunteer. City flags flew at half-mast, to honour the passing of Parksville resident and friend, Joan LeMoine. She died Friday in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, with her best friend and niece by her side.

City officials issued a release, offering their sincere condolences to Joan’s family and her many friends.

“Joan LeMoine loved Parksville and cared greatly for the people of Parksville,” read the release. “She was a positive force in the world, the consummate volunteer, generous with her time and endless energy. It was just this past June that we honoured Joan with the key to the city and celebrated Joan LeMoine Day in the city.”

Jan. 20

Qualicum Beach council has made roundabout at Village Way and Highway 19 a top priority, over a proposed all-season turf upgrade at the community park.

At its regular meeting on Jan. 13, Mayor Brian Wiese and Coun. Teunis Westbroek voted against Coun. Scott Harrison’s notice of motion that council withdraw its application for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure grant for the roundabout and to instead reinforce its bid for funding for the artificial turf project.

The roundabout project costs are listed at $1,986,510.42, while the community park field upgrades have been priced at $4,959,590. The Oceanside Youth Soccer Society has committed $235,000 to the turf plan.

Harrison said by prioritizing the lower-cost grant they might be “short-changing the town” based on past grants that the town has received for other projects that included the Memorial Avenue roundabout and sewer upgrades. Wiese expressed doubt the town will get any funding for the turf field project.

Frieda Van der Ree has a unique visitor she loves to see on her property in Nanoose Bay. A fawn, which upon first glance appears to have three ears, and its mother have visited Van der Ree’s property approximately twice a week since last spring.

“We see more of them grouped together this time of year, but most often I see just the two of them by themselves,” she said.

Van der Ree has kept a close eye on the pair, partially out of curiosity and also out of concern. While the fawn is “healthy and thriving” now, she told PQB News it previously had a terrible limp. “I thought, ‘oh no, this is not boding well for the little thing.’ But it seems to have totally recovered from that. Hopefully it was just an injury,” she said.

An alert dog helped its owner and a pair of feline friends escape a devastating fire in Parksville on Thursday.

An early morning blaze reduced a house on Martindale Road to rubble, but occupant Teryn Dyck, her two cats and heroic pooch were able to get out safely. Dyck told PQB News that it was the dog that alerted her to the fire.

“I had no idea there was a fire in the house and she was whining and making noise,” said Dyck. “I thought she had to go pee. But no, she was smelling smoke.”

After being alerted to the blaze, Dyck and her animals quickly escaped through the basement door.

“I’m literally walking out the door with what I carried on my back. And that’s all I own right now.”

READ MORE: Cats, grandmas and twins: Here are 7 B.C. stories that brightened 2021

Jan. 27

Development can proceed at Parksville’s old Beach Resort site.

City council unanimously voted in favour to grant Timberlake-Jones Engineering a development permit for 113 and 161 Island Highway, at the latest council meeting on Monday, Jan. 18.

As initially proposed at the Nov. 16, 2020, council meeting, Timberlake-Jones Engineering intends to build a two-storey, 200-seat restaurant, an outdoor pool and an 84-site RV campground at the high-profile property. At that time, the matter was referred by council to the city’s advisory design panel for fencing and landscaping concerns.

Approval was granted with an amendment that the proposed chain-link fence located adjacent to the boardwalk be changed to coincide with city park fencing, as a term of permit. Coun. Doug O’Brien first brought up his concerns about the use of a black chain-link fence around the property, and how it would not align with the continuity of the existing fence in the community park.

The Town of Qualicum Beach has agreed to sell an acre of land downtown to Naked Naturals Whole Foods Ltd, for commercial and residential purposes.

After a four-month public procurement process to explore the best obtainable value from applicants, the town decided to sell a section of the land of the former ‘Bus Garage’ property, located between the intersections of Fern Road West, Memorial Avanue and Fourth Avenue West, for $2.75M.

A release indicated town council endorsed the Naked Naturals proposal because it offered the best financial value while allowing the town to retain more than one acre of land, 62 per cent of the property, for the development of public amenities such as a public square, pavilion, theatre or amphitheatre; and also parking space.

An agreement to sell was signed by the town and Naked Naturals, which plans to build a grocery store, residential units and on-site parking. Council has reserved up to $1M from the land sale that will be put toward the development of public amenities in the area.

— NEWS Staff

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Michael Briones

About the Author: Michael Briones

I rejoined the PQB News team in April 2017 from the Comox Valley Echo, having previously covered sports for The NEWS in 1997.
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