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/
• A number of Canada geese were captured from the waters of Craig Bay in late June and killed, with their meat going to local First Nations, according to the City of Parksville. The harvest (not termed a cull as all the meat gets used, said the city’s communications manager, Deb Tardiff) took place as part of the third and final year of a goose management and estuary revitalization process undertaken by the City of Parksville with the help of the Guardians of MidIsland Estuaries, along with local First Nations and the provincial government. With geese molting, and so unable to fly, they were caught in the waters of Craig Bay from kayaks, said Tardiff, who said she did not know how many geese were harvested, though it was less than the number allowed through the various permits received for the harvest. No goslings were rounded up as part of the harvest, she said.
• A group opposing the marine outfall option for the Bowser Sewage Project tried to keep the Regional District of Nanaimo board from proceeding with the zoning amendment readings for a property in Electoral Area H to allow construction of a wastewater treatment facility.
Thomas Gates, who appeared as a delegation at the board’s regular meeting on June 26 on behalf of the Area H Rate Payers and Residents Association, informed the board that the majority of the people that attended the public information meeting on May 16 overwhelmingly opposed the zoning amendment on Pitt Road property. The staff report, Gates said, failed to inform the board of the public consultation implications from the May meeting that had 175 people in attendance. There were 93 written submissions that opposed the zoning amendment and there were only two who attended that were in favour of it.
RELATED: Year in Review, April to June 2018
• About a dozen mini Canadian flags were stolen from the Rotary Club of Qualicum Beach Sunrise during Canada Day celebrations Sunday.
The Qualicum Beach Rotary had placed 25 Canadian flags on flag poles on the roundabout at Memorial Avenue and Rupert Road and on the meridians along Memorial Avenue early Sunday morning, according to a press release from the Rotary Monday, July 2.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo was holding a public hearing on the zoning amendment applications on properties located at Pitt Road and Shaughnessy Drive in Electoral Area H.
The lots proposed to be rezoned from Residential 2 Zone to Public 4 Zone, if adopted, will allow a wastewater treatment facility to be built as part of the $10.7-million Bowser sewer project.
• In a much-anticipated vote, Parksville city council approved third reading and adoption for the rezoning of 222 Corfield St. South at Wednesday’s (July 4) regular council meeting.
Councillors Leanne Salter and Teresa Patterson each voted against both motions in a pair of 5-2 votes. Both received cheers from a portion of the crowd when they stated they would be voting against the two motions.
• The Town of Qualicum Beach will soon have a waterfront park to enjoy.
The town announced it had reached a deal with the estate of Elizabeth Little to purchase the St. Andrews Lodge property.
“After this purchase, the property will be the largest (Qualicum Beach) town-owned property on the waterfront,” at 6,500 square metres, said a town news release.
“The purchase price was $3.4 million,” said Heather Svensen, the town’s corporate administrator.
• Oceanside RCMP reported that police arrested three men following the search of two units at 354 Island Hwy., a suspected drug house in Parksville.
The area has seen drug activity for at least two years, with citizens who live nearby having previously expressed their concerns to The NEWS over drug use and dealing at a nearby trail and beach area just across from the suspected drug house.
“We would certainly hope that this would be enough to shut (the drug house) down,” said Cpl. Jesse Foreman, media contact with Oceanside RCMP. “If not, we’re going to be back.”
• The message delivered by the majority of the more than 200 people that attended the public hearing held at the Lighthouse Community Centre on Monday night on the rezoning of the proposed Bowser wastewater treatment plant site was an overwhelming “no.”
The properties to be rezoned are located on Pitt Road and Shaughnessy Drive in Electoral Area H. The wastewater treatment plant is a major component of the $10.7 million Bowser sewer project that will serve 99 parcel owners in the village centre.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo set the rates for the Bowser sewer services.
The sanitary sewer services rates and regulations bylaw was presented by director of water and wastewater services, Sean De Pol at the RDN’s committee of the whole meeting on July 10.
The committee voted to recommend to the RDN board the Bowser Village Sanitary Sewer Service Rates and Regulations Bylaw No. 1773, 2018 read three readings and adopted .
The new bylaw De Pol indicated will provide property owners how much they would have to pay for the sewer services annually, and also to formalize the regulatory structure of the service area for future property developments.
• Two volunteer fire departments in the Regional District of Nanaimo electoral areas will see their respective protection area boundaries expand.
Property owners outside the Bow Horn Bay Volunteer Fire Department and Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department’s areas of coverage have request ed that they be placed under their fire protection services.
On Marshland Road in the Spider Lake area of Electoral Areas H and F, there are three property owners who want fire protection to be provided by Bow Horn Bay Fire Department.
The boundary expansion request was presented at the RDN committee of the whole meeting and it was moved that Bylaw No. 1385.09, 2018 be introduced to the board, read three times and for ward to the Inspector of Municipalities.
• Incumbent mayor for the Town of Qualicum Beach, Teunis Westbroek, and current town councillor Anne Skipsey are both planning to run for mayor in the October municipal election.
Westbroek, who has served as Qualicum Beach’s mayor for 19 years, said he’s running again, simply because he loves the job and serving the needs of his town’s residents.
• A group was asking for monetary donations to fight the proposed supportive housing project at 222 Corfield St. South.
A GoFundMe page opened Sunday, July 8 called “No To 222,” and asked for $50,000 in total donations to pay for legal fees racked up to “win our case” against the supportive housing project.
• The Regional District of Nanaimo was closing trails within its jurisdictions effective July 18 due to high risk of fire.
This closure affects the RDN’s Arrowsmith CPR Regional Trail that runs from Cameron Lake up to the old Arrowsmith ski hill.
Hikers looking to climb Mount Arrowsmith and Mount Cokely are advised that the private logging roads providing access to the back country are being closed by the landowner.
• The District 69 Recreation Commission decided to get the regional district to start working on three top priority items now rather than wait after the October municipal elections.
The commission at its special summer meeting held July 19 at Oceanside Place voted to recommend to the Regional District of Nanaimo board to direct staff to begin the process of looking into the minimum Ravensong pool upgrade proposal to address critical user concerns, the replacement of the old track at Ballenas Secondary School to a rubberized track and field faculty, and the search for a suitable land for a future outdoor and indoor sports facility.
The decision was welcomed by Ravensong Aquatic Centre user group who has been collecting signatures calling for a short-term solution to the over crowding conditions at the pool and also the Oceanside Track and Field Club.
• Island Express Air, based out of Abbotsford, is now flying out of Qualicum Beach Airport.
Kevin Varey, the airline’s operations manager, said Island Express Air is flying in and out of Qualicum Beach two to four times per day, seven days a week. Flights out of Qualicum Beach, Varey said, started about two weeks ago.
The airline previously announced it would be expanding its operations to Qualicum Beach with daily service to Victoria in February, 2018. Flights were expected to begin running March 5.
• Despite the many placards bearing sl0gans protesting the marine outfall of the Bowser Sewer Services Project, the Regional District of Nanaimo board gave third reading to rezone two properties in Electoral Area H to permit development of a wastewater treatment facility.
Close to 30 residents from Area H, who were against using the ocean to discharge treated wastewater, showed up at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday night, bearing signs and posters to make their united opposition known to all the board members.
• A 44-year-old man was arrested after he walked into a business on Allsbrook Road wielding a machete and reportedly acting “crazy.”
The man, carrying two machetes and a bat entered Jett Auto Auction on Thursday, July 26 around 10:30 a.m.
• Errington Volunteer Fire Department responded to a brush fire near Allsbrook Road.
Firefighters were on scene around 2:30 p.m.. Crews put out the fire within a few minutes. Four firefighters were digging in the ground and going through the bushes and grass using rakes and shovels to make sure the fire wasn’t still burning underneath.
• A woman who inadvertently drove her vehicle into massive sinkhole near Nanoose Bay earlier this year was taking legal action.
Karena Donnelly of Lantzville wassuing for negligence after she was caught in a mudslide on a rainy night in January.
She was driving along Rumming Road in Lantzville in the early morning hours Jan. 29 when her vehicle suddenly plunged 20 metres down an embankment after heavy rains and a landslide had washed out the road and created a sinkhole.
Donnelly was rescued by Arrowsmith Search and Rescue a little more than an hour after her vehicle was turned upside down in the sinkhole. She has now filed a notice of civil claim in the Supreme Court of British Columbia against the District of Lantzville, the Ministry of Transportation and Emcon Services Inc.
• A two-year-old Parksville boy was recovering in BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after attracting E. coli O157:H7 that his father Aaron Hughes says, almost went undiagnosed.
This strain of E.coli infection can lead to diarrhea and kidney failure. Jaxon Browns’ parents, Hughes and Jolene Secord are hoping their son’s story will serve as guidance for other parents.
The exact cause of how Jaxon contracted E.coli is unknown, but his parents suspect it came from deer feces, as the animals can carry the O157:H7 strain. Hughes said they have a family of deer living on their property who live off an apple tree in the yard. He said once they’re back home he’s going to take a sample of the animal feces to get tested.
• The 80th anniversary of a historic site for the Town of Qualicum Beach was celebrated by councillors, town staff and the relatives of the former owner on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
The doors to the St. Andrews Lodge opened Aug. 1, 1938 by Simon, Dora, Robert and Elizabeth Little, but the waterfront site will soon be reincarnated as a public park. Elizabeth Little, a celebrated citizen of Qualicum Beach who was named the town’s citizen of the year in 1983 and the town’s first Freeman (the highest honour a town can bestow) in 1998, passed away in 2011 at the age of 87. A deal between the town and Little’s estate was announced in July of this year for the town to purchase the St. Andrews Lodge property for $3.4 million with the plan of turning it into a public park.
• Following a chase on foot in Parksville, a 25-year-old man was arrested.
Police arrested a man in Parksville on Aug. 1 after two witnesses called the Oceanside RCMP detachment to report a “male who was acting suspiciously near the Starbucks,” said Oceanside RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jesse Foreman in a news release. Once RCMP arrived on scene, Foreman said, police found the man and tried to talk to him but he fled on foot and was caught after a chase.
• Fire departments are used to reminding people not to fling their would-be fire starters out the window of their car, but now the Qualicum Beach Fire Department has had to warn people not to float them skyward.
Multiple floating lanterns with open flames from the Eaglecrest area of Qualicum Beach have left the fire department a “little perplexed,” according to a Facebook post from the Qualicum Beach Fire Department. The department posted on Facebook Saturday, Aug. 4 about some people lighting lanterns and sending them off, with the potential to land in people’s yards, roofs and trees. The lanterns get lift from a burning material suspended at the bottom of the lantern. Fire chief Darryl Kohse said a woman reported the lanterns to him. He said his understanding is the lanterns were coming from the Eaglecrest neighbourhood.
• Firefighters from Deep Bay and Bow Horn Bay worked to put out a grass fire before it spread to nearby trees just off Highway 19 Monday, Aug. 6.
Deep Bay Volunteer Fire Department chief George Lenz said the department was called out to a truck and camper fire. Lenz said while the department doesn’t know the cause of the fire, the owner said they saw smoke coming out of the camper and stopped driving.
The fire, Lenz said, flared up and kept burning. Bow Horn Bay assisted with the fire to bring more water on scene, Lenz said. There was about a quarter of an acre of grass burned on the side of the highway.
• A group raising money to counter Parksville’s 222 Corfield supportive housing project through legal means filed a petition against the city.
In an update on the No To 222 GoFundMe page started by Melanie Van Der Stock and associated with the www.parksvillecares.com website, Van Der Stock wrote on Friday, Aug. 10 that “our lawsuit against the City of Parksville was filed on time with the Supreme Court [of B.C.]… now we wait for the city to respond which will likely take a few weeks.”
• A car was destroyed, but a possible wildfire was avoided when Errington firefighters and a helicopter with the Coastal Fire Centre took action Friday, Aug. 10.
A car had pulled onto the shoulder of southbound Highway 19 near the Coastal Fire Centre (665 Allsbrook Rd.) with car trouble, and a fire began under the hood, said Errington Volunteer Fire Department’s fire chief, Troy Bater.
Bater was the first firefighter on the scene, arriving at about 11:05 a.m. to find the car “fully involved.” A large plume of smoke could be seen from kilometres away. Bater did what he could, focusing on the dry grass that had caught fire in an effort to keep the blaze from turning into a wildfire.
• Parksville city council was divided over a vote to acquire more parkland at last Wednesday’s council meeting.
The developer of a subdivision at 151 Despard Avenue West and 292 Stanford Avenue West was proposing to provide 0.5 hectares of land to council for park purposes. According to a report from the city, the Local Government Act requires a park contribution of up to five per cent, adding that the “landowner has the option of choosing to provide land or equivalent payment for park purposes.”
Councillors Leanne Salter, Kim Burden and Mary Beil said they were both in support of a park in the area. Beil added that the strip of land has been identified by a number of residents as a “lovely route leading toward the downtown area.”
• With phase one of the Parksville Downtown Business Association’s wayfinding program complete, the organization is now looking to the next steps.
Parksville city council approved releasing the next portion of money • $47,000 • for the next part of the wayfinding project following a presentation from PDBA executive director Pamela Bottomley and Vaughn Figueira, the city’s director of engineering and operations, on Aug. 8.
In mid-July, the first three wayfinding signs were installed within the business improvement area to let people know when they are entering Parksville’s downtown. The three-year phased implementation plan will have a total budget of $265,000 with the PDBA con tributing $97,000 and the city contributing $168,000.
• Data from Oceanside Community Safety Volunteer activities show that drivers are getting the message when it comes to cellphone use and driving.
Yet drivers don’t yet seem to have made the link between distracted driving and eating, or having a pet in your lap, for instance. With new data from OCSV deployments at Rathtrevor Provincial Park, Highway 4A in Coombs, and Corfield Street and Despard Avenue in July, The NEWS spoke with programs administrator Mike Garland to get a sense of the numbers.
• A “very serious” accident near the 3700-block of Highway 19A sent four people to hospital Wednesday afternoon, according to the Dashwood Volunteer Fire Department.
In an emailed statement to The NEWS, Dashwood fire chief Nick Acciavatti said firefighters were called to an accident near Cortes Road and Highway 19A around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 15.
Acciavatti said the department responded with four trucks and 12 personnel. The accident, he said, was a two-vehicle head-on crash with three people in each vehicle. Acciavatti said there were five ambulances and two helicopters on standby, although they were not used. RCMP was also on scene.
• Despite attendance being down about three per cent this year, the Parksville Beach Festival Society president said support for the event was still “really strong.”
This year, total attendance at the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition was 125,908. Society president Cheryl Dill said attendance is down from last year’s overall attendance of about 130,000 and about 133,000 in 2016. But the nearly 126,000 people in attendance isn’t insignificant, said Dill, who added the event is now on a trend of 125,000 to 130,000 each year.
• Following the report from a woman who stepped on a discarded needle with in the town back in June, Qualicum Beach council hoped to address the issue in a number of ways.
Qualicum Beach council approved motions to lobby the provincial government to fully fund a Parksville Qualicum Beach or province-wide needle collection program; to explore partnering with the Nanaimo and Area Resource Service for Families and Island Health to increase the number of hours that the mobile health unit spends in Qualicum Beach; that staff coordinate with local partners to organize a forum on improperly discarded needles in the area; and for staff to draft a standard letter calling on the province to take action on the issue of improperly discarded needles.
Council unanimously voted in favour of all four motions.
• The Town of Qualicum Beach began a 24-month pilot project for a retail cannabis store.
According to a news release from the town, it is leasing a portion of the old fire hall building, located at 124 Harlech Rd., to the “first cannabis retail outlet in Qualicum Beach.”
The town is also ensuring it will be the only private cannabis retail outlet in Qualicum Beach for two years.
• The Oceanside RCMP responded to a truck that flipped on its side around 10:15 a.m. on Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose on Saturday, Aug. 25 following a period of rain.
The vehicle’s driver and one occupant escaped the truck uninjured. The rolled-over truck obstructed both lanes on Nothwest Bay Road near the Petro Canada gas station for a period.
• A portion of Highway 19A was to be closed for five days to make way for the filming of the movie ‘Sonic The Hedgehog.’
It takes place 22 kilometres north of Qualicum Beach near the Bowser community Sept. 10-14. The $90-million budget film stars Jim Carrey.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) approved the closure after Joan Mill er of the Vancouver Island North Film Commission (INFilm), on behalf of Hedgehog Films Inc, was able to gain community support from Courtenay-Comox MLA, Ronna-Rae Leonard, the City of Courtenay, Town of Comox, and the Comox Valley Regional District earlier this month.
• Ed Mayne announced his intention to seek the mayor’s chair once again in Parksville. Mayne served as Parksville mayor from 2008 to 2010, when he resigned to run for leadership of the provincial Liberal Party.
The 2018 municipal elections take place on Oct. 20.
Mayne said he primarily decided to run due to his concern about divisiveness within the city. He believes there has been ineffective leadership and a lack of willingness to listen to the citizens.
• A woman was left shocked and upset after she says her vehicle was shot at while she was driving down Northwest Bay Road in Nanoose Bay.
Carol Zielke was driving near Rusted Rake Farm with two passengers and her dog when they heard the back passenger window smash. The incident caused no injuries, but Zielke said the situation could have been a lot worse.
• Science teacher Carl Savage was named a finalist in the Technology and Innovation Award category in the inaugural Premier’s Awards for Excellence in Education.
The Ballenas Secondary School instructor, who teaches physics, astronomy and science research, made headlines along with his students last school year for a cube satellite building project that was later launched 10,000 feet up aboard a rocket made by UBC students at the Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico. He later accompanied his students down to New Mexico to witness the launch.
• Parksville city council was presented with the operational management plan for the proposed supportive housing project at 222 Corfield St.
At a regular council meeting on Sept. 6, with close to 45 people in attendance, Violet Hayes, executive director of the Island Crisis Care Society and Renate Sutherland, founding member of the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness, laid out how exactly the housing facility will function.
Island Crisis Care Society will provide 247 staffing and maintenance of the building. Staff will provide support to residents as well as security and management.
• The drive to change the cinder track at Ballenas Secondary to a rubberized surface gained some traction.
The Regional District of Nanaimo’s committee of the whole last week endorsed the plan for the board’s approval to allow RDN staff to start collaborating with School District 69, the City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach for a rubberized track of up to eight lanes.
Construction and operation of a rubberized Ballenas track is one of the priorities identified in the recreation master plan for District 69 completed in June. They also include construction of an artificial turf field and expansion of Ravensong Aquatic Centre.
• Former Calgary deputy fire chief and Qualicum Beach resident Brian Wiese announced his decision to seek the office of Mayor in Qualicum.
Wiese’s long record of career and volunteer service includes membership in the Qualicum Beach Pipe Band, serving as a ski instructor for the Calgary Disabled Skiing Association and a career in firefighting with the Calgary Fire Department.
• Oceanside RCMP officials say they were inundated with calls regarding traffic issues from the road closure on the portion of Highway 19 from Horne Lake Road to Cook Creek Road for the filming of the movie ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’.
• After pulling out of the Qualicum Beach mayoral race last week for health concerns, current mayor Teunis Westbroek tossed his hat back in the ring for councillor.
Westbroek said his health problem was a bit of a false alarm and through improved diet and exercise he’s feeling great.
• Anne Skipsey announced her intention to be the first woman to be mayor of Qualicum Beach. The town has had 14 reeves and mayors, all men, according to a news release.
Those leaders include Skipsey’s father, Art, who was mayor from 1977 to 1990.
• Starting next year, the Regional District of Nanaimo will collect taxes on accommodation providers with fewer than four rooms.
This means online accommodation plat forms (OAP) such as AirbNb, will be subjected to a two per cent municipal regional district tax (MRDT) that is collected by accommodation providers in Electoral Areas E, F, G and H, City of Parksville and Town of Qualicum Beach.
The revenue from the MRDT is provided to the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association (PQBTA) to be used for tourism initiatives.
• Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham was at a Parksville farm to announce the provincial government is committing $300,000 to support the B.C. Land Matching Program.
The program aims to address a lack of affordable farmland in the province by connecting new and young farmers with local land owners.
Through the program, delivered by Young Agrarians, land matchers are assigned to Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, the Okanagan and the Columbia Basin to work with farmers, landowners, local governments and agricultural organizations.
• The filming of the ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ movie that took place on Highway 19 near Bowser came and went in a flash.
But for those inconvenienced by the week long closure of the portion of Highway 19 between Horne Lake Road and Cook Creek Road Sept. 1014 during the filming of the $90-million movie, some bitter memories continue to linger.
Regional District of Nanaimo chairman and Electoral Area H (Deep Bay, Bowser and Qualicum Bay) director Bill Veenhof said he received a lot of calls and emails from unhappy residents. Veenhof put a notice of motion that staff report back to the board on developing filming permits.
• A point-in-time homeless count co-ordinated by the province and performed in 12 B.C. communities yielded stats for the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
Forty-two people were “identified as experiencing homelessness during the count,” which took place over a 24-hour period between March 1 and April 30 from Nanoose Bay to Bowser.
In the count, people without homes had to agree to be identified as being homeless and take a survey.
• As the Canadian government prepares for the legalization of recreational cannabis in October, the City of Parksville was assembling a framework for regulatory options on a municipal level.
In early 2018, council members directed staff to prepare options for municipal regulation of the cannabis industry. In order to design a suitable structure for Parksville, council told staff to gain public input through an online survey and comment process in March and April. After an interdepartmental working group reviewed the input, researched regulations in other jurisdictions where recreational cannabis is legal, and considered service levels and staffing resources, council was presented with recommendations for future direction.
• A host of people gathered in Qualicum Beach on Sunday, Sept. 23 to remember and hounour a longtime advocate for wild salmon habitat from the Englishman River to Little Qualicum River watersheds.
Faye Smith, co-founder of the Qualicum Beach Streamkeepers, passed away in March 2017, leaving behind a legacy that will be forever remembered through the town’s new Seaside Park Faye Smith Rosenblatt Memorial Pavilion.
Located along the Island Highway past Crescent Road West in Qualicum Beach, the upgraded Brant viewing area includes interpretive signage, new benches and landscaping. The official opening and dedication took place on Sept. 23, but the pavilion was open to the public in mid-August.