Three BC Hydro power lines were down near Herring Gull Way and Franklin's Gull Road in Parksville on Wednesday, July 14. (Michael Briones photo)

PQB News 2021 year in review: July

Oceanside RCMP investigate pair of sudden deaths in Parksville

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 July.

July 7

• Oceanside RCMP said investigations continues into a pair of sudden deaths June 29 in Parksville.

Sgt. Stephen Rose said police will not release any new information until a post-mortem report was completed.

“We will be in a position to give more information once we get the result of the post-mortem report,” he said. “We’re still in the midst of an active investigation and we need the results before we can make a determination on what transpired.”

The report was conducted by the BC Coroners Service, and a time-frame on completion was not yet available.

The coroner indicated they were still in the early stages of the investigation and, at the time, were unable to determine all the facts.

• There was a united sea of orange on the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation territory in Lantzville on July 1.

Hundreds of visitors arrived in droves to listen to the experiences of residential school survivors and celebrate Indigenous culture.

A roster of musicians, comedians, speakers and drummers all volunteered their time and talent in the name of unity.

‘Orange Day in the Bay’ was put together in just two weeks by organizers Peter Hudson and Tyler Bob.

The festival aimed to bring people together, and proved to be entertaining for all ages and backgrounds.

People from Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay and Parksville Qualicum Beach came to enjoy the sun, the atmosphere and most importantly, to listen as residential school survivors shared their stories.

• The early days of summer proved too hot for even concrete to handle.

The extreme heat that blanketed much of lower B.C. in a historic heatwave had not only broken records, but also buckled sidewalks. A photo sent to PQB News showed one such incident on Claymore Road, near Qualicum Beach Elementary School.

The corporate administrator and deputy CAO for the town of Qualicum Beach, Heather Svensen, confirmed the Claymore Road incident was likely caused by the expansion of concrete due to severe heat, and therefore buckled since it had nowhere to go. In an email to PQB News, Svensen stated the circumstances are quite uncommon, and so, does not happen very often in Qualicum.

July 14

• Development on Parksville’s proposed Aquatic and Recreation Centre is on hold until a full environmental overview assessment is complete.

Christie Lucas, an environmental scientist with WSP Canada, the firm tasked with conducting the environmental assessment, went before Parksville city council on Monday, July 5.

Lucas said a land analysis report, along with a site condition assessment, was already done on the proposed Despard Avenue site.

“We have been out to the site and based on initial site visits and discussions with city staff, WSP has identified potential valuable ecological communities at the site that may present constraints to the purposed development,” she said.

According to Lucas, WSP recommends reports on these preliminary findings be completed before going forward with the remaining assessments so they can present the site constraints and whether mitigation measures are ecologically or financially feasible.

She said the reports, which were available within several weeks, would assist the city in determining whether to move forward with additional assessments, or to choose a new location altogether.

• Sometimes all the stars align resulting in a perfect moment.

Such was the case when ‘Just the Ticket’, the third of Bard to Broadway’s summer offerings hit the boards.

When one added up the sum of the parts – actress, director, designer, crew and script – the result was a production that ticked every box.

When B2B decided to do Peter Quilter’s play ‘Glorious’ in 2009 , artistic director Gary Brown recalled that he received an email wishing them good luck.

“Over the years, Peter has kept in touch… July of 2020 he offered a free perusal of Just the Ticket primarily because it is a one woman show and he was promoting COVID-safe scripts to consider.”

The script was chosen and Quilter was delighted to hear that COVID restrictions recently were lifted and the show would go on.

• When Parksville resident Sheri Plummer first heard of the devastating fire that burned through the B.C. community of Lytton on June 30, she was not only overwhelmed with heartbreak but a sense of duty.

With help from her husband, Bill Vinton, Plummer created an ‘awareness stand’ on the corner of Wright Road and Sunray Road in Parksville, complete with a large sign that read “Our Hearts Are With You” and information on how to donate to Go-FundMe, a crowdfunding platform, for Lytton First Nation Community Emergency Support.

Plummer’s goal was to show the people of Lytton that residents of Vancouver Island are thinking about them.

She encouraged the people of Parksville Qualicum Beach to visit the stand and contribute by means of flowers or other expressions of sympathy, and donate to the GoFundMe, if possible.

• Parksville athlete Alycia Butterworth’s journey to the Tokyo Olympic Games was full of ups and downs. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Butterworth, who specializes in the 3,000-metre steeplechase, was named to Canada’s Olympic team and will head to Tokyo, where she will compete in one of the biggest sporting extravaganzas in the world.

“I’m not sure it’s fully hit me yet that I’m going to be an Olympian,” said Butterworth, a former Ballenas Secondary athlete. “I’ve been running since I was a child and have had the goal of representing Canada at the Olympics since high school. It’s been a long road getting here, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with injuries and illnesses over the years. To have everything come together at the right time for the Olympics is an amazing feeling and I’m thrilled to be representing Canada on the highest stage.”

July 21

• Expansion plans for the Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach proceeded to the next phase of the design.

The Regional District of Nanaimo board endorsed the next step of the plan for the pool, constructed in 1995.

With more people moving to the area every year, it cannot meet the growing demand for recreational services.

The addition of a second pool and other amenity improvements will provide residents with greater access to aquatic, fitness and wellness programming.

“During the master plan community engagement process that was completed in 2019, RAC stakeholder groups shared their support of an expansion to the aquatic centre,” said Tyler Brown, RDN chair. “An expanded RAC will provide more opportunities for residents to participate in recreational activities they identified as important to their quality of life.”

• A crane attached to the back of a semi-truck reportedly brought down BC Hydro power poles in Parksville on Wednesday afternoon (July 14).

The downed poles, near Herring Gull Way and Franklin’s Gull Road in the industrial park, impacted nearby businesses with reports of several power outages.

One of the poles landed on the back of a box truck, while the other two remained sprawled in the street.

Due to concerns of active power lines, the driver of the semi and the driver of the box truck remained inside their vehicles until BC Hydro could confirm the downed lines were not live.

Parksville Fire Department personnel were on scene to secure the area and manage traffic, closing off the intersection of Herring Gull Way and Franklin’s Gull Road.

• An artist who fell in love with raku-fired ceramics more than three decades ago has hidden pieces of his work throughout the Island for people to take home.

Ed Oldfield said he was first introduced to raku pottery while attending a British Columbia Art Teachers’ Association workshop in 1989.

“I saw that, and it was just absolutely stunning,” he said. “And I thought ‘I have to figure out how to do this.’”

To show his love for the process, Oldfield has an ongoing art project where he creates raku sea stars and hides them on public beaches on Vancouver Island, Powell River and the Lower Mainland.

July 28

• The Town of Qualicum Beach had voted to contribute $56,400 towards the Ballenas Secondary track project.

But they didn’t have to, based on the staff report presented to staff at their regular council meeting on July 21.

Director of finance John Marsh told council staff had difficulties writing the report because there are no usage statistics or data available on public use of the Ballenas track.

Town staff encountered difficulty applying an existing funding formula used to gauge how much funds are allocated for the use of RDN recreational facilities that include Oceanside Place, Ravensong Aquatic Centre, regional parks and Northern Community.

Staff stated in the report the Regional District of Nanaimo, which has committed to help fund the $1.5-million track upgrade, was working on a contribution agreement with School District 69 (Qualicum) to establish a formal commitment to ensure adequate public access to the site.

• Two District 69 area fire departments in the Regional District of Nanaimo had answered a call to help fight wildfires in Osoyoos.

Fire departments unaffected by the wildfires were requested to send fire equipment with crews to help if available.

After assessing their local response needs, Errington Volunteer Fire Department and Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department had confirmed they are able to support the firefighting efforts in Osoyoos.

• Now that Qualicum Beach has a full complement of councillors, Mayor Brian Wiese had brought back the issue of backyard chickens.

Wiese wanted council to rescind their decision on March 17 to ban chickens within the town proper.

He tried to get council to rescind its decision at council meeting on April 7 but it was deferred until the council spot left vacant when Adam Walker was elected MLA for Parksville-Qualicum was filled.

With Coun. Anne Skipsey elected to the position, Wiese on July 21 made a notice of motion to rescind a decision not to continue a backyard chicken pilot project.

• The City of Parksville is on track to get an additional electric vehicle charging station.

At the regular council meeting on July 19, director of community planning and building, Blaine Russell, advised council of a Mid-Island Electric Vehicle Charging Station Network participation agreement.

In his presentation, Russell said the agreement had requirements imposed by the province that included maintaining the EV charging station for a minimum of five years; to install one charging station with two connectors in the vicinity of the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre; and to work with the Community Energy Association, the Regional District of Nanaimo, and other participation local governments.

Russell also told council the charging station will be on a network, which means its availability could be checked from an app.

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2021 Year in ReviewParksvillequalicum beach


Ceramic artist Ed Oldfield kneels next to his current raku pottery display at the Qualicum Arts Supply and Gallery, July 5, 2021. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Alycia Butterworth, right, and her training partner Regan Yee had a close race at the Harry Jerome Classic where she finished second and was 1.7 second shy of the Olympic qualifying time. (Mark Janzen photo)

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