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PQB News 2021 year in review: March

Backyard chickens cause a kerfuffle
Nicolas Hay performs the Sepai kata he entered in Tbilisi Open Online Goju-Ryu Kata Tournament. (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 March.

March 3

• Qualicum Beach residents will head to the polls on May 15 to elect a new councillor to replace Adam Walker, now the MLA for Parkville-Qualicum.

Town council, with Coun. Robert Filmer returning following a two-month medical leave of absence, endorsed Heather Svenson to be the chief election officer at the its regular council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The town’s deputy corporate administrator, Haylee Gould, was named the deputy chief election officer.

Eaglecrest Golf Club’s owners will go ahead with a plan to reduce the course layout from 18 holes to nine, effective April 1.

“The owners have made it clear that they want to run a nine-hole golf course at least for this year,” said Daniel Sailland, the Town of Qualicum Beach’s chief administrative officer, after the message was relayed to town council. “So, this becomes a point council is going to have to discuss around the lease.”

“Eaglecrest has been a large part of our community and I prefer they go 18-holes long term,” said Mayor Brian Wiese. “I would do everything to make that happens but there’s some limitations.”

With little happening due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Nicolas Hay has had to look for ways to motivate himself to keep training in karate.

The 19-year-old Parksville junior first dan black belt came across a virtual international competition online that sparked his interest and entered to compete in the Tbilisi Open Online Goju-Ryu Kata Tournament, hosted by the International Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate-do Federation in Georgia. It took place Nov. 23 to Dec. 20.

Hay chose Sepai (18 hands) kata for the international competition. He said it’s a kata two levels above his current belt ranking. After countless hours of honing the intricacies of the kata four days a week, Hay created a video that he submitted to the tournament for judging. His hard work paid off when he was declared winner in the junior shodan black belt division.

March 10

Some residents in Parksville Qualicum Beach have resorted to throwing recyclable materials in the garbage instead of driving to collection centres in Nanaimo and Courtenay.

Since the Parksville Bottle Depot ceased to collect items on behalf of Recycling BC (on March 1, 2020) including Styrofoam, recycling glass and plastics, residents have been waiting for a new location or facility to be established.

Their frustrations were expressed on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Get Involved page online and included in a report at the solid waste management select committee meeting on March 2.

The French Creek Pollution Control Centre is scheduled to undergo expansion and odour control upgrades this year but a Qualicum Beach resident is wondering what seems to be taking so long.

“The sign on the property states that upgrades will commence in 2020-2021,” wrote Chris Berndt in a letter to the Regional District of Nanaimo. “Currently this site is devoid of any construction or upgrades being performed.”

Berndt pointed out the foul odour emanating from the plant and wants the Vancouver Island Health Authority and the Town of Qualicum Beach to exert some pressure on the RDN to get the project going.

The centre treats wastewater from approximately 28,000 people and businesses in Parksville and Qualicum Beach as well as the service areas of French Creek, Pacific Shores, Surfside, and Barclay Crescent. It also treats trucked waste from homes with septic systems and holding tanks and currently provides secondary treatment with trickling filters to meet provincial and federal environmental regulations.

Former Parksville Royals pitcher Josh Laukkanen put in a solid effort in his first start of the 2021 NCAA Div. I college baseball season in College Station, Texas on March 6.

The Nanaimo product, who graduated from the Royals in 2018, pitched for the New Mexico State Aggies against conference rivals Texas A&M.

The right-hander did his job to make sure Texas A&M’s bats were, for the most part, held in check. Laukkanen struck out six, gave up six hits and a pair of walks in 4 1/3 innings of action before giving way getting relieved with one down in the bottom of the fifth. The Aggies lost 5-0.

March 17

Neighbours and friends are rallying to help Errington’s Weir family, who lost their house in a March 11 fire.

A GoFundMe emergency account was organized by Alycia Welburn for Zoe, her partner Matt and her two sons. The goal is to raise $10,000. As of Tuesday morning (March 16), the amount raised was near $16,000.

The fire broke out late at night on March 11. Zoe’s mother, Cindi Ashbee, woke to find her bedroom engulfed in flames. She was able to wake up the family and all were able to leave safely, as well as their pets.

The Errington Fire Department, with the assistance of the Parksville Fire Department and Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department, worked on dousing the flames but the house was beyond saving, noted Welburn.

Mohammad Shafi wants to see the shoe on the other foot. As many of them as possible.

After more than 70 years in the shoe business, Shafi has decided to retire at the age of 91.

Shafi, or ‘Mo’, has operated shoe stores in Parksville (most recently Ortho Depot Inc) and Nanaimo. With his retirement, he has decided to donate his remaining inventory to the Mt. Arrowsmith Salvation Army to support the community and help individuals walk in comfort.

Brandon Hannibal hoped to stretch his final season with the Oceanside Generals a little longer.

But it ended sooner than expected when the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League on March 9 delivered the bad news that the 202021 season is officially over.

Hannibal, one of the Generals toughest blue-liners, found it hard to believe his junior hockey career is done.

“It would have been nice to play for a league championship,” said Hannibal. “We had that chance last season and it was cancelled due to COVID-19. I was hoping it would happen this season. I feel robbed. This is my last year.”

March 24

Qualicum Beach council has voted unanimously against allowing backyard chickens in residential areas.

The decision was made at council’s regular meeting on March 17.

However, Coun. Scott Harrison said Mayor Brian Wiese emailed him after he meeting, saying he wanted to reconsider the motion. Wiese said he would bring it back before council at the April 7 meeting.

The town initiated a pilot project on backyard chickens that ran from May 2017 to May 2020. There were 17 permits issued. Throughout the period of the project, the town’s bylaw department received approximately six to 10 complaints.

Arrowsmith Search and Rescue Society has secured the much-needed financing it needs to finish construction of its new operations facility at the Qualicum Beach Airport.

Since construction began in the fall of 2020, ASAR has been seeking donations to cover the shortfall that resulted from the escalating cost of the new hall.

The society had raised $700,000, including a provincial gaming grant of $250,000. But due to the price of materials going up and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of the project went up to $1.2 million.

Pheasant Glen Golf Resort and Golf Clan Holdings Inc. have embarked on $250,000 project to renovate approximately 15 bunkers on the Qualicum Beach property.

Greens superintendent Kelly Jacobson and assistant Mark Sands are leading the project with target completion in 2022 in time for the Canadian Men’s Senior Championship Tournament in 2023.

“We have always had maintenance issues with steep-faced bunkers washing out in the rain, so last fall we decided to try revetted bunkers, and they worked very well,” said Gord Melissa, Pheasant Glen general manager.

March 31

The Regional District of Nanaimo board wants staff members to look at options for a temporary recycling depot service in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

The board, at its regular meeting on March 23, unanimously voted in favour of Nanaimo director Ben Geselbracht’s motion calling for staff to prepare a report for the solid waste select committee for discussion.

Based on recent letters received from Recycling B.C. and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change that updated the board on the current status for recycling depots in Parksville Qualicum Beach, there’s still no definite solution coming anytime soon.

It’s been a year since the Parksville and Qualicum Beach recycling depots stopped taking glass, soft plastics and Styrofoam for recycling, leaving residents to travel 30 to 45 minutes to the nearest depots in Nanaimo and Courtenay

Sunday’s stormy weather conditions led to several traffic collisions during the weekend.

Cpl. Jesse Foreman of the Oceanside RCMP said police responded to four collisions on Sunday, March 28, all of which were attributed to the sudden onslaught of hail and slush.

Foreman confirmed in an email to PQB News that while no serious injuries were reported, several vehicles sustained significant damage. One such incident occurred on Highway 19 just outside Parksville by the weigh scales going south, where a vehicle had gone into a ditch.

Foreman confirmed this incident took place at 11:14 a.m. when a woman’s vehicle skidded off the highway.

Actor/director Harrison Houde is set to debut a new show, Stories of Kindness, produced and directed by the former Qualicum Beach resident.

It’s an interview series (which began on March 27) from Canada’s ‘kindness champions’, the WITS ProgramsFoundation. The show focuses on spreading kindness, connection and storytelling through children and is hosted by bullying prevention advocate and Pink Shirt Day co-founder Travis Price.

Houde, a product of Kwalikum Secondary, is best known for his acting roles in Some Assembly Required and other popular children’s shows and movies such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the live-action Fairly Odd Parents. He said when he was approached by the WITS foundation to do the series, he didn’t think twice.

READ MORE: Black Press Media’s Top 25 most-read stories of 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has not slowed members of the Oceanside Running Club Association.

Whatever the weather, they continue to run or walk regularly each week. For them, every day is a good day for a run, as an important exercise to keep fit and healthy. However, there’s also another objective ORCA accomplishes every year, helping charities and other groups in Parksville Qualicum Beach.

Money generated from the popular Oceanside Mother’s Day race is traditionally donated by ORCA to Haven House, Forward House and the Mid-Island Distance Runners. But due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled last year and will not be staged again this May.

To meet ORCA’s commitments to their selected charities and group, five members took it upon themselves to find ways to raise funds on their own. Their dedication resulted in raising a total of close to $10,500 through sponsored solo runs.

— NEWS Staff

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Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne, right, cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Quality Foods store March 24, 2021 with QF president Noel Hayward, left, and store manager Darcy Ginter. (Michael Briones photo)
The Town of Qualicum Beach council has voted against allowing backyard chickens in residential areas. (File photo)

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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