The PQB News continues its annual year in review, a look back at what made headlines in 2018.
This segment covers April through June with ensuing editions completing the journey through the year’s local news. Check out any edition anytime at https://www.pqbnews.com/e-editions/
• The Town of Qualicum Beach chose to stay designated as a “town” despite being nearly double the maximum population of a town or village. The Local Government Act states a “town” consists of a population between 2,500 an 5,000. Qualicum Beach had a population of 8,943 as of the 2016 census.
• Dylan Williams, 17-year-old Parksville resident, was on the long road to recovery after being injured in a rollover crash in Nanoose Bay. Williams suffered multiple injuries in the single-vehicle crash on Highway 19. “We do expect close to a full recovery. But the doctors tell us it will probably be close to two years before he gets there,”said Williams’ mother, Kelly Kapusta.
• What was anticipated as a dream cruise for several Parskville travellers turned into a nightmare in March as an early start to a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship refit began as soon as the vessel departed for a two-week cruise from Miami to Los Angeles. “It was like being in a construction site,” said Jill Davies, who was taking her first cruise. “We had no forewarning. There were jackhammers, power sanding, welding, People were getting sick from the fumes and dust.”
• Multiple fire departments responded to a structure fire at 212 McKinnon St. in Parksville on April. 4. When firefighters arrived around 1:30 p.m., the house was fully engulfed. Parksville Dire Chief Marc Norris said a lone occupant had gotten out of the house before responders arrived, and was examined before being taken to the hospital.
• An RCMP explosives unit detonated a “suspicious” bottle in Parksville’s Community Park on April 9 around midnight. Members of the Oceanside RCMP located a plastic bottle with a taped lid that had been left abandoned in the park’s playground around 5: 15 p.m. on April 8. The bottle was filled with a brightly coloured, unknown liquid and appeared to have something floating inside. “At this point is it unknown whether the device was in fact something that was dangerous, or whether it was a hoax made to look like a homemade explosive,”said Cpl. Jesse Foreman, RCMP spokesperson.
• Fisheries and Oceans Canada posted a sanitary emergency closure notice on April 5 for oysters in a portion of Deep Bay after the BC Centre for Disease Control announced an outbreak of norovirus associated with raw B.C. oysters.
• During a special council meeting to discuss its draft Official Community Plan, Qualicum Beach council discussed the ramifications of turning the town’s waterfront area into a park from Memorial Avenue to the Brant Viewing Area. Mayor Teunis Westbroek said when the roundabout comes in (at the intersection of Memorial Avenue and Highway 19A), from the waterfront to the Brant Viewing Area, “I would like to consider that we change the speed limit to 40 km/h.”
• Parksville assistant fire chief Tyrone Heigh said the April 4 fire that destroyed a home on McKinnon Street in Parksville was caused by a compressor in the home’s freezer overheating.“They (the residents) had defrosted the freezer and went to get it going again, but (the compressor) kept clicking on and off,” said Heigh. “What happened, essentially, is the compressor in the back overheated and there wasn’t adequate ventilation around it.” The fire destroyed the home and damaged a vehicle in the driveway.
• A prolific Parksville painter was placed under arrest April 11 after leaving his graffiti tag on property throughout the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, Oceanside RCMP announced.
Police recommended “dozens of counts” of mischief under $5,000 against the 23-year-old Parksville man, who had been arrested a month earlier but who continued to deface property while released under conditions.
• The Recreation Services Master Plan for District 69 headed to the District 69 Recreation Commission for final review. About 51 per cent of households in District 69 said they would like to see new or enhanced indoor facilities and 49 per cent of households would like to see new or enhanced outdoor facilities and spaces. The top indoor priorities identified by residents included indoor swimming pools; a health and fitness centre; and a multi-purpose recreation centre. The leading outdoor priorities were trails; natural parks and protected areas; picnic areas and passive parks.
As members of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness (OTFH) worked to share more information on the pro- posed supportive housing project on Corfield Street in Parksville, more than 100 people packed the Parksville legion Friday, April 13, for a meeting organized by residents opposed to the 52-unit housing development. On March 9, B.C.’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Selina Robinson, arrived in Parksville to announce the funding to construct the supportive housing units, with a goal of opening the facility in spring of 2019.
Parksville Coun. Mary Beil introduced a motion at a April 16 council meeting calling on staff to “investigateoptions to adopt a ban” on the distribution of single-use plastic bags at point of sale within the City of Parksville. Beil’s motion for Parksville to begin the process of considering a bylaw passed without further discussion, by a 5-1 margin.
• Some members of the District 69 Recreation Commission want the region to “bite the bullet” and work on building a centralized indoor and outdoor recreation facility. Commission chair Julian Fell said the plan needs to be reviewed, has to be practical and should be supported by the community. General manager of recreations and parks Tom Osborne told the commission that the plan- ning should be done in stages. It would require community engagement to determine what the public is willing to accept, to see what it would look like and how the plans would be funded.
• Opposition to the proposed supportive housing project for Parksville began to grow shortly after Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing came to Parksville on March 9 to announce $6.9 million in funding for the project, to be built at 222 Corfield St. That opposition coalesced around a group that has established a website, www.parksvilleshelter.com, and which hosted a public info session on April 13 that organizers say drew more than 250 people.
• More than a hundred guests, dignitaries and speakers recognized Earth Day with a tribute to both the Georgia Strait ecosystem and one of its greatest champions on April 22 on the Qualicum Beach Waterfront. With the backdrop of a construction project that has become a pavilion and interpretive/gathering centre, speakers took turns praising the work of the late Faye Smith Rosenblatt, for whom the pavilion was dedicated.
• A “concerning” trend with illegal drug packaging prompted the Oceanside RCMP to put out a warning. Oceanside RCMP, according to a news release on April 30, seize drugs from people daily. “What is alarming is a growing trend to find these drugs packaged or created to resemble candy,” the release reads. Cpl. Jesse Foreman said in the release that there have been several recent drug seizures in which cannabis products are created to resemble gummy bears, chocolates and other candy. The items are either not marked or not clearly marked and “would be very enticing to unsuspecting children.”
• After eight local students visited a school in Japan in March through Kwalikum Secondary School’s Japanese Language program, KSS was preparing to welcome Japanese students from that school in May. For the last nine years, KSS has been building up a relationship with Aichi Keisei High School in Inazawa City, with 40-50 Japanese students from the school coming to visit KSS every May.
• As of April 30, Qualicum Beach had one less airline carrier. Orca Airways no longer flys to Qualicum Beach Airport or its other former Vancouver Island locations. Kevin Boothroyd, director of business development for Pacific Coastal, said the company is looking at upgrading its carriage and operations to meet the increased demand, but it will not be picking up flights into or out of Qualicum Beach.
• Parksville’s Forward House marked the completion of Phase 2 of a years-long accessibility project when it cut a toilet paper “ribbon” to open its newly accessible washroom Tuesday, May 1, 2018. The $15,000 Phase 2 was funded in part by a first-of-its-kind joint endeavor by the four Parksville and Qualicum Beach Rotary clubs.
• A motion started by a local trustee seeking to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote for trustees has passed its latest hurdle. The motion, initiated by School Board 69 (Qualicum) trustee Jacob Gair in August and ap- proved unanimously by the SD69 school board, was passed at the annual general meeting of the British Columbia School Trustees Association (BCSTA) on Saturday, April 28, said Gair. He said approximately two-thirds of trustees voted for the motion. “I feel wonderful about it,” said Gair. “It’s amazing, and I’m very grateful to my board for all the support along the way.”
• The Oceanside RCMP has received three recent reports of suspects trying to pass counterfeit bills to local shops. Most recently was Wednesday when, Cpl. Jesse Foreman said, the Oceanside RCMP received a $100 bill from a local business. The bill had the clear strip and Canadian maple leaf from a real $5 bill taped in.
• Parksville council approved first and second reading of a zoning amendment bylaw for a contentious supportive housing project, but only after voting down a motion for a referendum. Despite the vote, there were roars of approval in support of a referendum from an overflow crowd at city hall on Monday, May 7. Approximately 200 people, many of them wav- ing yellow cards expressing opposition to the supportive housing project and winter shelter proposed for 222 Corfield St., filled council chambers and overflowed into the lobby of the Parksville Civic and Technology Centre.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo is establishing a policy for non-medical cannabis retail store licence applications. When the federal government legalizes the recreational use of marijuana this summer, the regional district and other jurisdictions will be facing challenges in dealing with applications for legal sale of recreational marijuana.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo has cho- sen a location to build a wastewater treatment facility for the Bowser sewage system. The property is located at Pitt Road, near Shaughnessy Drive in Electoral Area A. The total cost of the project is projected to be $10.7 million and the balance of the cost will be financed through advanced development cost charges collected from developers, and from existing parcel owners through taxation.
• Island Health suspects that the likely source of the norovirus that resulted in shellfish farm closures in Baynes Sound this year was from untreated sewage associated with marine opera- tions during the herring run in March. In an email, the Public Health Agency of Canada said the cause of the contamination resulting in the norovirus outbreak has not been identified. The PHAC did not make any connection to marine operations associated with the herring run.
• A prolific offender was arrested during a break and enter in Parksville on May 15. Oceanside RCMP, according to a news release, caught the 49-year-old suspect, who is well known to police, while he was breaking into a trailer at a storage compound. The suspect was in possession of items stolen from a vehicle that had been broken into from the Lodgepole/Ironwood subdivision in Parksville at 5 a.m.
• An early childhood educator for the Qualicum First Nation received national recognition from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for her exten- sive career working with Indigenous youth on Vancouver Island. Qualicum First Nation Child Care Centre manager Pam Moore was in Ottawa on May 2 to receive the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.
• More than 100 people showed up at a public information meeting on the proposed rezoning of two properties in Electoral Area H to permit construction of a wastewater treatment facility.
The Regional District of Nanaimo hosted the meeting May 16 to collect input and feedback from residents about rezoning properties on Pitt Road and Shaughnessy Drive to allow a wastewater treatment plant, one of the three components of the $10.7-million Bowser Sewage Project.
• A man sought by police for the robbery of a Parksville bank was caught and placed in custody, Oceanside RCMP announced May 17. One day earlier, the RCMP issued a notice that it was seeking 47-year-old Mark Brooks Lee for allegedly robbing the Parksville branch of TD Bank on the evening of May 10. Police were able to identify Lee through security footage.
• Concept plans for the east village area in Qual- icum Beach drew enthusiasm from council and members of the gallery at a committee of the whole meeting. The east village area, Town CAo Daniel Sailland said, could include town homes, apartment-style rentals, flex work space, commercial space, a brew pub and a public area. While all of council voiced their excitement for the idea, council- lors Barry Avis and Anne Skipsey were wary of moving forward with a project.
• Aquafit participants at the Ravensong Pool were upset and angry that the popular program had been reduced due to a lack of instructors. Around 40 to 50 participants of the 10-11 a.m. morning moves aquafit class that runs three times a week were told the drop-in program was cancelled from May 16 to June 29. A lot of the users said the cancellation was unacceptable.
• A development company is hoping to build a 73-unit rental building in Parksville.
Parksville city council gave first reading for a zoning amendment for 161 and 173 Moilliet St. North for a high-density residential development.
• The RDN Transit Select Committee rejected during its May 24 meeting a proposal to offer a pilot study for a $1 fare in the RDN Transit system, to be offered to commuters this coming summer from July to August. The RDN board of directors in April directed staff to draft a report on the pilot project, which was proposed by the Town of Qualicum Beach for routes in the Qualicum Beach area.
• Qualicum Beach town Coun. Bill Luchtmeijer will be drafting a letter to the Island Corridor Foundation to possibly use the rail route as a connector for Qualicum Beach schools. “If we can show that the corridor is important to us — so important that we’re willing to improve it to make sure that our kids gets to school safely — that might be a step in the right direction for either allowing us to pave a pathway between the rails or alongside the rails to use it for a community safety program,” Luchtmeijer said.
• Following an assessment on the condition and possible rehabilitation of the old bus garage, Qualicum Beach council has approved the demolition of the building. Director of engineering Bob Weir said cost of rehabilitating the building would be $270,000, with no contingency or soft cost. “That’s a considerable expense compared to the cost of demolishing,” Weir said.
• Qualicum Beach staff will be looking into the possibility of banning plastic straws within the town. Coun. Neil Horner made a notice of motion at Monday’s regular council meeting for staff to investigate options for banning the provision of single-use plastic straws within the town and to provide a report to council with recommendations.
• Qualicum Beach Coun. Barry Avis made a motion for staff to bring forward the town’s procedural bylaw to amend it to include First Nations recognition at the beginning of meetings.
• A subcontracted truck driver died while delivering a shipment of steel beams to the new water treatment construction project Monday, June 4, the City of Parksville announced in a news release. Andy Watson, communications manager with BC Coroners Service, said an investigation was ongoing, but not many details were available. He said the victim was a Nanaimo man in his early 40s.
• Nearly 100 people lined a stretch of Highway 19A in Parksville June 4 to protest the federal government’s decision to buy the Kinder Morgan pipeline for $4.5 billion. Shortly after 5 p.m., the Parksville protest had moved from the front door of Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns’ office to the side of Highway 19A. Drivers honked their vehicles’ horns in support of the protesters.
• Comments from a delegation proposing an alternative to a supportive housing project in Parksville drew a harsh response from Coun. Sue Powell during Parksville’s regular council meeting Wednesday, June 6. Doug O’Brien and Adam Fras, leaders of a group opposed to the housing first project at 222 Corfield St., appeared as a delegation to propose an alternative, affordable rental housing project on the site. But Powell took exception to the pair’s characterization of drug-addicted people who could potentially be residents of supportive housing. “I don’t know if everybody in this room knows, but I’m an addict,” said Powell. “I’ve been clean and sober for 30 years. I was one of those people you’re talking about tonight, who didn’t have anything, who’s trying to look after my own kids. And thank God there was treatment out of the community.”
• A 32-year-old Parksville man wanted for assault was arrested June 1, Oceanside RCMP reported. The suspect was located in a car on Shelly Road in Parksville. After being arrested, the man was searched, revealing drugs and evidence to support (charges of) drug trafficking.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo committee of the whole gave first and second reading to a proposal to rezone a property in Electoral Area H to allow development of a wastewater treatment facility. The RDN wants to rezone the southern half of two lots located on Pitt Road from Residential 2 to Public 4 to permit a sewage treatment plant to be built.
• For the second time in two years, and the third time in seven, a Ballenas student has earned a Schulich Leader Scholarship worth tens of thousands of dollars. This year’s recipient is Spencer Hancock, a prolific volunteer and hard-working student who said it’s his competitive nature and a few key people in his life that have helped to lead him towards earning a $100,000 award toward a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Victoria.
• The Town of Qualicum Beach received $695,308 to complete the separated bike path on the upper portion of Memorial Avenue. The funding was possible through a BikeBC grant.
The Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region is now home to 1,000 more trees due to a national initiative meant to reduce the carbon footprint of the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec that was held in June. In an effort to make the summit an environmentally responsible event, the federal government made an agreement with the Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve which included the planting of 100,000 trees across 14 of Canada’s 18 UNESCO biosphere reserves. Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) was included in the 14 sites, with 1,000 Douglas firs having been planted within Top Bridge Park.
• Roughly 100 people got up to speak, both for and against the rezoning of 222 Corfield St., at Tuesday’s public hearing which many said has divided the City of Parksville. Of the approximately 100 people who spoke, the majority vocalized their reasons against the rezoning of 222 Corfield St. The meeting lasted for more than four hours with dozens of people getting up to speak a second and third time.
• Theft from vehicles is up in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region for 2018, according to Oceanside RCMP Staff Sgt. Marc Pelletier. “If we look at theft from vehicles in 2016 it was 43, there were 37 in 2017 and we’re up to 60 in 2018,” Pelletier said. “The days of leaving your keys in your vehicle and your wallet and purse, those days are done here.”
• Parksville Fire Department and Oceanside RCMP investigated a house fire that occurred at 585 Martindale Rd. on June 25 that they deem suspicious. All five occupants that were in the home escaped the blaze safely.
• Overcast skies could not stop the smiles of children, Parksville Lions Club members, Rotarians and many others during the official opening of the new splash park in the Lions Ventureland Playground on Friday, June 22. Children were already at play in the splash park equipment as Lions club member Mike Garland thanked the many donors and partners who gave money and/or time to complete the $300,000 park.
• Despite some comments by the public about Berwick possibly pulling out of the Parksville location, a representative with Berwick Retirement Communities says no decision has been made yet.