Aerial acrobatics: Distinguished pilot Dr. Vicky Benzing, in her 1940 Stearman biplane, put on a special show as the Qualicum Beach Flying Club held its popular Air Show at the Qualicum Beach Airport. (Michael Briones photo)

PQB Year in Review: News of 2019, Part II

May through August highlights

The PQB News continues its annual year in review, a look back at what made headlines in 2019. This edition covers May through through August. Check back for the final installment, and find any print edition anytime at www.pqbnews.com/e-editions/

MAY 2

– Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne writes a letter to environment minister Catherine McKenna calling on the federal government to look at regulating single-use plastics. He argues that with 162 different municipalities in B.C., businesses won’t be able to cope with a patchwork of regulations if every council enacts their own bans on plastic bags and the like.

MAY 7

– Parksville resident Deanna Breuker raises the issue of needles in parks after finding needles left near a picnic table in Parksville Community Park. Breuker organizes a protest for May 13 outside City Hall, calling for a task force in the city that would patrol public areas 24 hours a day.

–Emergency Management Oceanside (EMO) is recognized by the province for their work during the December 2018 windstorm that knocked out power across the PQB region. Rob Daman, program co-ordinator for EMO, told Qualicum Beach council that Emergency Management B.C. would be doing a community profile on EMO.

– Parksville resident Billy Buhler speaks out after finding used needles in the forested area behind the Recycling Depot on Alberni Highway.

– Rollie Koop retires as Superintendent of School District 69 after 19 years of work with the district. In Koop’s time with SD69, he served as vice principal and then acting principal at Kwalicum Secondary School. Following that, he served as principal at Ballenas Secondary School before becoming assistant superintendent of schools in 2009 and then acting superintendent in 2011, before officially taking the superintendent position in 2014.

MAY 9

– Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne introduces a motion to look into drafting a bylaw on regulating needle distribution in the city of Parksville.

– Manna Homeless Society starts to fundraise for a mobile health unit. Their goal is to raise a total of $150,000.

– One person is sent to hospital after a late night shop fire breaks out in Coombs in the 700 block of Bentridge Road. Multiple fire departments respond, with Coombs-Hilliers drawing resources from Errington, Parksville, Dashwood, Bowhorn, Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanoose Bay.

– Oceanside RCMP release information that a 67-year-old Qualicum man died after a head on collision while motorbiking on April 27.

– The Rotary Club of Parksville AM leads a clean-up of garbage from illegal dumping on Little Mountain, aided with helicopters.

– ECHO Players host the North Island Zone Drama Festival featuring a variety of theatre put on by groups from Parksville to Campbell River.

– Dick Stubbs wins the third installment of “SurvivorPQB,” modelled after the popular reality television show. Stubbs wins $500 for his charity of choice, the Bowser Senior Housing Society.

MAY 14

– Howard, the world’s tallest gnome, is officially deconstructed and leaves his home in Nanoose Bay, headed for Galey Farms in Saanich. The 1,100 pound gnome statue had called the Nanoose Bay Chevron on the Island Highway his home since 1998 when he was the mascot for the former amusement park at the site. The gas station owners requested his removal for legal reasons, and the granddaughter of his original builder took to social media to find him a new home.

– Nanoose Bay resident, 72-year-old Terry Riggins, takes first place prize in the 71 – 74 age category at the TC 10K race in Victoria.

MAY 16

– Keeva Kehler is appointed chief administrative officer for the city of Parksville by a unanimous council vote. Kehler has worked with the city since 2012, starting as manager of current planning. She brings to the role two decades of experience working with local, regional and provincial governments.

MAY 23

– The city of Parksville purchases the property of 222 Corfield for $700,000 in order to secure full control over the property. The property is the site of a hotly-debated B.C. Housing supportive housing project. The city also does away with the former cold-weather shelter space built into the building by repaying a grant-in-aid to the RDN for $492,400. The cold weather shelter was a requirement by the Regional District of Nanaimo, and B.C. Housing says they will work on securing another space in the area.

– Parksville Beach Festival Society launches a capital campaign to raise funds for the installation of an outdoor theatre in the Parksville Community Park. Their goal is to raise $1.2 million and start construction in 2020.

MAY 28

– Parksville council votes unanimously to give themselves a pay raise, following a motion by Coun. Doug O’Brien. Councillors now earn $30,000 per year, with the mayor bringing in $52,500. The average council renumeration in B.C. for a city the size of Parksville is $22,159 for councillors and $56,436 for mayors. O’Brien says his motion is based off the payscale for similar sized communities on Vancouver Island.

– Ballenas Secondary School Students stage a Climate Change Walkout on Friday, May 24 in solidarity with global movements worldwide inspired by Greta Thunberg’s FridaysForFuture messages. Prior to the Ballenas walkout, the students held a climate forum that was mandatory for all students, and included a variety of guest speakers. The walkout drew just under 200 students.

– A village green space is proposed in Qualicum Beach. The plan for the site at Fern Road and Memorial Avenue is to create a multi-use village green space. Ideas proposed include a roofed open-air pavilion for year round activities, a kitchen space with seating and tables, washrooms, a garden space and a children’s play area among others.

MAY 30

– Parksville council votes to approve four applications for new non-medical cannabis retail stores in the city, which allows the applicants to further their proposal to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). The licenses are for 826 Island Highway (BC Cannabis), 491 Island Highway (Buddha Farm), 3A-154 Middleton Avenue (Oceanside C-Weed) and 102-124 Craig St (Kaya Connection.

– The Perfect Storm Group, a team of concerned community stakeholders in healthcare, present to a Parksville community of the whole meeting about a lack of doctors in the PQB Area. According to group member Tom Davies, between 6,000 and 8,000 residents in the PQB area live without a family doctor.

READ MORE: PQB Year in Review: First look back at the news of 2019

JUNE 4

– The Regional District of Nanaimo votes against erecting a Rogers telecommunications tower in Coombs, defeating the proposed 61-metre tall tower by a slim margin of 4-3. Community concerns were a driving factor in the defeat of the tower, as residents were concerned it would be too close to residential properties, potentially decreasing their value and potentially causing health and aesthetic impacts.

JUNE 6

– The Arlington Beer and Wine store in Nanoose Bay was robbed at gunpoint on June 3. According to the employee’s report, the suspect was disguised from head to toe and pointed a gun at their face.

– Nanoose Bay residents rally to oppose a plan that would see further expansion at Beachcomber Marina. Friends of Nanoose Bay, the group opposing the expansion, argue that the breakwater expansion would damage what they say is an ecologically fragile reef area teeming with marine life.

– The RDN announced that the French Creek Pollution Control Centre would be expanded and upgraded to meet the demands of a growing population to improve odour controls.

– The Town of Qualicum Beach received $505,841 for safety improvements on the town’s east-west multi-use path, which is largely used by children as a route to and from school.

JUNE 11

– For the second time in one week, another PQB business was robbed at gunpoint. This time it was the Stop and Shop Grocery in Qualicum Beach, on June 5. The suspect was described as a masked man.

– A fire at Parksville’s River Green Resort sent one person to hospital with serious burns on the evening of June 6. The blaze destroyed an entire building, with reports of an initial explosion before the fire started.

JUNE 13

– The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach welcomed new executive director Illana Hester. The 35-year-old Hester, born in Calgary, moved to Qualicum Beach from New York City, where she had spent the past decade working in the art world.

– British Columbia’s Information Privacy Commissioner appointed an investigator to find out why the RDN was reportedly refusing to release information on its efforts to purchase EPCOR’s water system in French Creek. The investigation comes after the French Creek Residents’ Association filed a complaint with the commissioner.

JUNE 18

– Parksville’s Log Cabin General Store was robbed overnight on the evening of June 10. According to owner Peter Haseltine, someone broke through a front window by carving out the wood frame of the window to get the lock and take down the security bars.

JUNE 20

– Farmers concerned about recent changes in provincial legislation surrounding land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) met at Rusted Rake Farm on June 17 for the first public meeting of the District A Farmers’ Institute. Close to 60 farmers and politicians were in attendance to discuss a range of issues, including regulation of secondary dwellings on ALR land.

– Former Ballenas Secondary School athlete Stephani Kurz completed a “100 Mile Run to Kill Cancer” and raised $8,000 for the Terry Fox Foundation. Kurz ran from Parksville to Comox and back again in just under 22 hours to honour her best friend Tegan Carmichael, who died of a brain tumour in 2018.

JUNE 25

– Hundreds of flowers were pulled from plant beds in the city of Parksville, causing damage to city plant beds to the tune of $2,000. The vandalism took place two nights in a row, near the Home Hardware in downtown Parksville as well as along Craig Street and near the Sea Edge Motel.

JUNE 27

– B.C. Housing and Island Crisis Care Society announce that 52 residents have been chosen to move into Orca Place following an assessment process. Individuals had to have already lived in the PQB area for one year.

JULY 2

– The RDN announces that it will expand the San Pareil water service to 41 properties not connected to its water distribution system.

JULY 4

– Clarke Gourlay, founder of Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and Morningstar Farm and RDN director for Area G, died as a result of a mountaineering accident in Strathcona Provincial Park. Gourlay was an avid mountaineer. In lieu of flowers, Gourlay’s family requested donations to the Campbell River Search and Rescue.

– The McMillan Arts Centre debuts its most ambitious exhibit to date on July 6, a collaboration between multi-disciplinary local artists entitled Soft Shore: where land and water meet.

JULY 9

– The Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition opened to the public on Friday, July 12. The theme of this year’s signature Parksville event was Myths and Legends, and sculptors came from around the world to showcase their talents and compete in the event, which was a qualifier for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting.

– Parksville city council advanced a bylaw to regulate the distribution of hypodermic needles in the city, following citizen complaints about needles being left in parks. The bylaw passed first and second reading at the July 3 council meeting, and drew criticism from Island Health’s medical health officer for the central island.

JULY 11

– Qualicum Beach resident Wendy Williams was named the first Canadian woman to captain a major cruise ship. The ship is run by breakout company Virgin Voyages, called the Scarlet Lady. It will set sail in spring of 2020.

– The Regional District of Nanaimo announces that it will add 10 electric vehicle charging stations with its jurisdiction, to be installed at RDN facilities and parks.

– The Parish of St. Anne’s log church celebrates its 125th birthday with a variety of community events and musical offerings.

– The Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame celebrates MLA for Parksville-Qualicum Beach Michelle Stilwell as Canada’s most decorated Paralympian. Stillwell holds two gold medals in different disciplines – one for wheelchair basketball and one for wheelchair racing.

JULY 16

– Parksville couple Susan and Gary McAlpine spoke out about a lack of psychiatrists in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach area. At the time, Island Health had only one psychiatrist to serve the whole PQB region.

– Five Ballenas Secondary School students head to Florida to watch the launch of a rocket from the International Space Station carry one of their experiments to space. The students won a district wide competition for their project which would attempt to grow alfalfa sprouts in space.

JULY 18

– A Parksville man died from a rabies infection after coming into contact with a bat on Vancouver Island in May. 21-year-old Nick Major worked as a taekwondo instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville. His infection is the first case of human rabies in the province since 2003, and only one of 23 known cases in Canada since the 1920s.

JULY 23

– An application is received by Parksville city council for high-rise development on some of the city’s prime waterfront. IAG Developments proposes a mixed-use development with multiple buildings, next to the Beach Club Resort at 113 and 116 Island Highway West. Proposed plans include 16 and 12 storey buildings, a hotel, a two-storey brewpub and a city plaza among other things. Parksville council defers discussion about the application until a later date.

– Qualicum Beach council makes steps towards the creation of ‘East Village’ in the city’s downtown core, passing a rezoning application for the areas of 126, 130, 134, 144 and 148 Second Avenue East. The eventual vision of the area presented by director of planning Luke Sales would be a walkable pedestrian area with a public square, brew pub and community gathering spaces.

JULY 25

– Oceanside RCMP Auxiliary Constable Michael Dally was honoured with the Commissioner’s Commendation for Volunteer Service. The award is of the highest honours bestowed by the RCMP to any of its officers.

– The RDN put out a Request for Proposals for potential expansion and upgrades to the Ravensong Aquatic Centre. Proposed expansion plans include the addition of a second 25-metre tank, and expanded change rooms.

JULY 30

– Crime statistics released by Statistics Canada show Parksville had a 45 per cent increase for all violations combined between 2017 and 2018. The largest amount of violations are property-crime related – 2018 saw 1,592 reports, up from 1,090 in 2017. Percentages were similar in Qualicum Beach, which saw a 39 per cent jump in violations.

AUG. 1

– Island Crisis Care Society and B.C. Housing held an open house for community stakeholders to walk through Orca Place, and to announce that residents would be moving in on Aug. 19. Staff training was set to begin on Aug. 6.

– Qualicum Beach’s first cannabis store, QualiCanna, gets set to open its doors to the public on Aug. 3. The store is owned and operated by former marine biologist and Nanoose Bay resident Clayton Brenton and his son, Dallin Brenton.

AUG. 6

– Members of the French Creek Residents’ Association speak out about their frustration with the RDN’s decision not to purchase the EPCOR Water Utility in French Creek. The district claims that the purchase would make their water service too costly for consumers.

– A new fire hall is approved to the tune of $4 million in Dashwood. The RDN will borrow the money to pay for it, after the district conducted an alternative approval process that drew 90 per cent approval rate from citizens in Electoral Areas of F, G and H.

AUG. 8

– The Department of Fisheries and Oceans imposed a temporary shellfish closure in Parksville, Qualicum Beach and French Creek after sewage flowed from a manhole onto the beach in front of Judges Row in Qualicum Beach.

AUG. 13

– Parksville resident Gerald Filipski launches a petition in Parksville to lobby the city towards building a pool and fitness facility. Filipski’s goal is to obtain a thousand signatures of those in favour of a new facility, rather than just the proposed expansion at Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach.

AUG. 15

– Federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh speaks in Parksville at the Parksville Museum as part of a campaign fundraiser for his upcoming federal election bid.

– The Save-On-Foods Parksville Royals baseball team announces that eight of its graduating players will go on to play ball at the collegiate level. The players recruited to play are Kieran Bowles, Nolan Macdonald, Jacob Volkers, Tim Holyk, Keegan Chard-Hill, Carter Chard-Hill, Brodie Comerford and Nathan Lagos.

AUG. 20

– The Save Estuary Land Society rallies to try and conserve a Douglas fir tree that was home to a pair of adult bald eagles near the French Creek Marina. The group mobilized to protect the tree after the provincial government issued a permit to cut down the tree, following an arborist report indicating the tree is a hazard and requires removal.

AUG. 27

– A 32-year-old man is the victim of a reported atal hit-and-run in downtown Parksville. Oceanside RCMP appeal to the public for any information, and put out the lead that they believe the vehicle to be a 1999 Black Ford F-250 with aftermarket modifications.

AUG. 29

– Oceanside RCMP seize a truck they believed to have been the vehicle for the reported hit-and-run that killed a Parksville man.

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Michelle Stilwell, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, uses the Lokomat machine at the Neuromotion Physic clinic in Victoria. Stilwell took her first extended steps in 27 years this July. (Submitted photo)

‘Royal Guardian’ by Karen Jean Fralich took third place in the solo competition at the 2019 Quality Foods Sand Sculpting Competition in Parksville. The works are on display through Aug. 18. (Emily Vance photo)

John Davies, 69, of Langley, prepares for landing during the weekend’s 2019 Qualicum Beach Skydive Accuracy Invitational. Competitors try to land on a small circle in the centre of an inflatable target. An electronic sensor which records, in centimeters, how close they get to the target. Anyone who earned a 0 (bullseye) got an immediate reward of a cookie. Competitors ranged in age from 44 to 73. (Brian Argyle photo)

Kaitlyn Hammond, assisted by Parksville Fire Department’s captain Eric Millar, shows her delight as she hoses down a playhouse that has fire targets at the Inaugural pop-up water park held at Nicholls Park on Aug. 2. The family-friendly event hosted by the PVFD gave kids the opportunity to beat the heat and cool off by running through a misting spray from an aerial ladder truck and play with the fire hose. (Michael Briones)

Jake Schleier, 10, runs in the Bol Kite race at the 2019 Parksville Lions Kite Festival. (Emily Vance photo)

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