PQB News 2021 year in review: June

The Parksville Civic and Technology Centre lowered flags to half-mast on Monday, May 31, 2021, in honour of the 215 Indigenous children’s remains uncovered at a former residential school in Kamloops. Donated children’s shoes were also placed at the foot of the Second World War Cenotaph by Edna Howard, in memory of the ‘lost children that didn’t make it home.’ (Mandy Moraes photo)
Terry Mazzei next to a truck after it was struck by lightning, with him inside, on Wednesday afternoon, June 9. He walked away from the incident without injury and the truck sustained only mild damage; a blown front tire and newly broken gas gauge. (Wendy Mazzei photo)
The remains of the Mid-Island Co-op in Whiskey Creek along the Alberni Highway on Friday, June 18, after a blaze the day before devastated the gas station. (Michael Briones photo)
The Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness will help vulnerable residents stay hydrated during extreme heat with free bottles of water. (Submitted 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 June.

June 2

• Court papers were served to the City of Parksville regarding the closure of the Parksville Community Centre (PCC).

This is reference to the city’s release, dated Oct. 20, 2020, which stated the current operating agreement with the Parksville Community Centre Society would not be renewed in 2021, and that the city intended to use the building as a childcare space through the Boys and Girls Club of Central Vancouver Island (BGCCVI).

• Two intersections along the Alberni Highway were listed as the worst for crashes in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

This according ICBC’s 2020 data statistics released in May, crashes that resulted in either casualty or property damage.

The two intersections, both in Parksville along the Alberni Highway, are slightly more than a kilometre apart.

Where the Island Highway meets Morison Avenue and the Alberni Highway saw 13 crashes last year, topping the list again as it also saw 13 crashes in 2019. In 2019, however, it tied with the intersection along the Island Highway at Pym Street in the turning lane. The second-worst for 2020 saw 10 recorded crashes along the Alberni Highway and Despard Avenue, located just 1.2 kilometers southwest from the Island Highway and Morison Avenue intersection.

• Residents of the Parksville Qualicum Beach area noticed many flags flown at half-mast for approximately eight days in late May to early June.

The City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and School District 69 (Qualicum) all advised their schools and municipal facilities have lowered flags in memory of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were uncovered earlier in May at a former residential school in Kamloops.

• Cpl. Mike Halskov with BC Highway Patrol confirmed to the PQB News that police and emergency services responded to a two-vehicle collision along Highway 4 at Jones Road on Sunday, May 16 at approximately 8:50 p.m.

On arrival, police determined that a white sedan entering Highway 4 from Jones Road collided with a motorcycle travelling west along the highway.

“The motorcycle operator sustained serious, life-threatening injuries and was flown to hospital by BC Air Ambulance,” wrote Halskov in an email.

Halskov provided an update to PQB News that the motorcyclist died overnight at the hospital following the collision.

June 9

• A Qualicum Beach resident believes B.C. exams for drivers aged 80 and up to be unfair. With Parksville Qualicum Beach having one of the oldest demographics in Canada, Judy Southern, who has been involved with the Qualicum Beach Senior’s Activities Centre for nearly 20 years, said she has heard seniors discuss the “unfairness” of the exams.

“One must arrange an appointment with a doctor… if they have a doctor and then pay for it,” said Southern. “Doctors charge, at their discretion. If one is lucky the doctor knows you well and may not feel that you need a follow-up cognitive test or road test.”

RoadSafetyBC, the B.C. government’s agency responsible for road safety, mandates persons 80 and above to renew their driver’s licence every two years.

Those that fail the medical exams, however, may end up having to take the Enhanced Road Assessment to determine whether they are fit to drive.

• The Regional District of Nanaimo staff recommended the RDN support a proposed Telus tower to be erected on a private property located on 210 Cochrane Rd. in Qualicum Bay.

Staff indicated the proposed telecommunications tower has satisfied all the requirements of the RDN and recommended the board provide a statement of siting concurrence to allow the 63.1-metre, steel self-support tower to be built to improve the wireless service in the area, approximately 15 minutes away from the Town of Qualicum Beach.

Telus has identified the Qualicum Bay area as having poor wireless service and aims to improve it by providing high-speed, high bandwidth cellular service.

• Parksville swimmer Nicholas Bennett has earned a spot in the Canadian team that will compete in the Tokyo Paralympic Games beginning Aug. 24.

“I am excited that all of my training has paid off and I am looking forward to representing Canada,” Bennett said in an email to the PQB News.

Following the cancellation of the Paralympic Swimming Trials due to the global COVID-1, in order to fill the remaining four of Canada’s 19 positions, Swimming Canada invited eligible athletes to demonstrate competitive readiness via submission of training logs and data as well as a video-recorded time trial performance.

READ MORE: PQB News 2021 year in review: May

June 16

• The Oceanside Services Committee had endorsed a recommendation for the Regional District of Nanaimo board to approve funding for the running track upgrade at Ballenas Secondary.

The RDN staff confirmed the $1.5-million project met the criteria of the Community Works Funds, making Electoral Area G’s (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) commitment of $32,000 and Area H’s (Bowser, Qualicum Bay, Deep Bay) contribution of $21,000 official.

Staff recommended the RDN board approve a Community Works Funds compliant contribution agreement to be entered with School District 69 (Qualicum) to secure community access and to fund the upgrades.

It would also include an RDN funding of $204,000, that will come from the 2021 Financial Plan Recreation Program Services Reserve Account.

• A Nanoose Bay couple are counting their lucky stars after a close encounter with some high voltage on Wednesday (June 9) afternoon. Wendy Mazzei said at approximately 2:30 p.m., her husband, Terry, had just arrived at the Fairwinds Wellness Club and was about to exit his truck when a bolt of lightning pierced the sky and struck the tree behind him.

“It was like an explosion, is how he described it. And he could see the light behind him. And it was very loud – he said his ears hurt, especially his right ear,” said Wendy Mazzei.

She speculates the lightning travelled down the tree, struck a different unoccupied truck in the parking lot before jumping to Terry’s truck, a 1999 Blue Toyota Tacoma, with Terry still inside.

• For the first time, Cortes Island artists Hannes Grosse and Iris Steigemann were in a father/daughter exhibit at The Old School House Arts Centre (TOSH) in Qualicum Beach.

Their shared exhibit, Moments of Silence, was viewed until June 26, and aimed to offer viewers an “appreciation for stillness in time.”

Grosse has lived on Cortes Island since 1980, now with his daughter Steigemann, choosing the seclusion as a means to escape somewhere quiet and pursue their own artistic development.

• Parksville athlete Alycia Butterworth was close to achieving the Olympic qualifying time in the 3,000-metre steeplechase.

The 2010 Ballenas graduate, who had set her sights on competing in the Tokyo Olympics, finished a close second behind her training partner Regan Yee recording a personal best of nine minutes, 31.27 seconds at the 2021 Harry Jerome International Track Classic held at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver on June 12.

Butterworth, who formerly ran for the University of Idaho, missed the Olympic time standard by 1.27 seconds, which had motivated her even more.

June 23

• A popular Whiskey Creek pit stop for ice cream and road trippers on Vancouver Island was completely devastated by a massive blaze on Thursday (June 17).

A release from the Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department read that the Mid-Island Co-Op fire started at 3:49 p.m., and on arrival firefighters noted the blaze, which had started from a motor vehicle at a fuel pump, quickly spread to the overhead canopy and convenience store.

The store sustained significant damage from the blaze but remained isolated to one structure.

Officials said thanks to the quick thinking of Co-op staff members, they were able to activate the emergency shutoff for the fuel pumps and safely evacuate the building. No one was injured during the incident.

• The District of Lantzville and the Snaw-Naw-As First Nation are interested in nurturing a co-operative relationship.

The district and the First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, June 18, at Snaw-Naw-As Market, where Snaw-Naw-As Road meets Lantzville Road.

Chief Gordon Edwards said he wants the municipality and the First Nation to have a “side-by-side” relationship.

“Our paths are in the same direction and we’re working along the same goals of co-operation, discussions and development…” Edwards said. “We’re looking forward to these next few years. We’re going to have ups and downs; it’ll be a learning experience for us, and it will only strengthen the relationship that we want to develop with our neighbours to the south.”

Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain called the memorandum of understanding “momentous” and an important document for both communities, and said one of the goals is to help ensure everybody’s thriving and prospering.

June 30

• Sandpiper residents now get clean water, following an agreement reached between the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Town of Qualicum Beach.

For years, residents in the Electoral Area G (French Creek, San Pareil, Little Qualicum, Englishman River) community have had to endure reddish-brown water that is high in manganese and iron.

They have had to individually shoulder the cost of treatment systems to improve the quality of the water, deemed potable by Island Health despite it not being aesthetically pleasing.The agreement signed by both the RDN and the Town of Qualicum Beach will bring bulk water supply to the 242 households in the Sandpiper subdivision.

It will be supplied by the Town of Qualicum Beach to the Sandpiper reservoir. The RDN has allocated $970,000 from the Electoral Area G Community Works Funds to cover the capital costs to bring water to the reservoir, while allowing for infrastructure improvements and reinforcing the emergency water supply for the Chartwell and Eaglecrest communities.

• A Parksville man was given a nine-month jail term for harassing a number of area women, after obtaining their personal information through his work.

Lyle Wayne Denny, 36, pleaded guilty in Nanaimo provincial court to 10 counts of criminal harassment and one count of uttering threats.He was sentenced on Tuesday, June 22, to the nine months in jail, followed by 18 months of probation.

Court heard that from April 2019 to April 2020, Denny made sexually explicit phone calls and texts from a blocked phone number and asked the women for graphic images.

• The Mt. Arrowsmith Salvation Army, working in partnership with the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness (OTFH), provided bottled water to those who may not otherwise have access to fresh water on hot days during the summer.

OTFH, through the federally funded Homelessness Partnering Strategy Program (HPS), provided the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen with water bottles for distribution to vulnerable residents during extreme heat.

HPS also provides other supplies to homeless and at-risk of homelessness throughout the year.

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