BRRRRR: The Polar Bear Swim tradition is alive and well in Parksville. Hundreds of people were on the beach and/or in the water on Jan. 1

Time to reflect on 2015 in Parksville Qualicum Beach

Today and in the next three editions of The NEWS, we take a look at what made news in 2015

Remember the debate over the distribution of marijuana-based products at a shop in downtown Parksville?

How about the Island Corridor Foundation suing Regional District of Nanaimo director Julian Fell? Then there was outgoing MP James Lunney saying “militant atheists” were behind the attacks on Christian pollticians like himself.

How about the drought and water restrictions of the summer? And there was some kind of election in the fall, wasn’t there?

It’s time to reflect on the year that was 2015. Inside today, starting on Page 5, and continuing in our next three editions. The NEWS presents 2015 — Year in Review.

Our staff has been looking at the 104 newspapers we produced in 2015 and pulling out some of the news highlights and photographs, which will be presented in the next few editions.

We would like to wish all of our readers and advertisers a Merry Christmas, a joyous holiday season and a Happy New Year.

 

2015 — Year in Review

Jan. 1

There are good reasons to be optimistic about this region’s economy in 2015, says Robynne Shaw, chair of the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association board. She said the city is likely to see some tangible tourism impacts from a project that aims to bring investment and jobs to the region.

• The 2015 Tim Hortons B.C. Junior Curling Championships have begun at the Parksville Curling Club. The event sees the best eight junior men’s and eight junior women’s teams in the province go head-to-head, climaxing in the finals on Saturday, Jan. 3 on Sportsnet.

Jan. 6

The Island Corridor Foundation said it is “protecting the credibility of the foundation and the personal reputations of the directors and staff” by taking regional district director Julian Fell to court. Fell, who represents Coombs/Errington on the RDN board, has confirmed he is being asked to show up in the Supreme Court of B.C. for allegedly making defamatory comments about the ICF.

• A jogger from Qualicum Beach is home safe and uninjured after being airlifted off Mount Horne Saturday night by a military helicopter.

Jan. 8

A 30-year-old single mother’s vehicle was stolen Christmas morning in Whiskey Creek. It was full of presents, many for her 10-year-old son. “It definitely ruined Christmas,” Shanna Acton told The NEWS on Tuesday morning.

• A 50-year-old Qualicum Beach woman suffered from what police are calling “a diabetic state” Friday night when she drove her 2000 Honda Accord into a Shell gas station, nearly running over two men having coffee.

Jan. 13

“It will happen, that’s the one thing we can be sure about,” Stephen Johnson told

The NEWS of “the big one” after the Jan. 7 earthquake in Tofino.

• In a historic first for the Regional District of Nanaimo, a First Nation chief has been asked to sit on the board of directors as an alternate. Qualicum First Nation chief Michael Recalma agreed to be director Bill Veenhof’s alternate, representing the area of Deep Bay/Bowser.

Jan. 15

The fate of a controversial seaweed harvest polarizing the community of Deep Bay may now be in the hands of science. By way of a contract granted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Vancouver Island University’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station is now monitoring the ecological activities.

• The City of Parksville may need to think outside the box as it ponders lease arrangements to replace the now-defunct concession with food-truck pads in Community Park, says a local food truck owner. Extreme Eatz owner Mark Chandler said food trucks are mobile by nature and many need to follow festivals and do private catering to make ends meet.

Jan. 20

A compassion club that nonchalantly opened its doors last week in downtown Parksville is coming under fire from Oceanside RCMP and the mayor who say the operation is “completely illegal.” But Akil Pessoa vowed the Phoenix Pain Management Society is here to stay.

• Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre says the city secured a $20,000 non-refundable deposit from Wildflower Marijuana, a Vancouver-based company looking to set up a medical marijuana facility in the industrial park.

Jan. 22

Some people are trying to further their own agendas by pointing to allegations about the consultant hired by the Englishman River Water Service, says Parksville’s chief administrative officer. CH2M Hill Canada Ltd. was hired by the ERWS to design a water treatment and storage system.

• Four dead trumpeter swans and three power outages in less than a week have B.C. Hydro crews installing “bird diverters” in Meadowood.

Jan. 27

Another alpaca has died in Errington after being brutally torn apart and left to die. The owner suspects a dog — or pack of dogs — roaming freely in the neighbourhood. Skye Donald said she returned to her 13-acre property in Errington Thursday afternoon to find her oldest, alpha-female alpaca slaughtered.

• The Qualicum Beach Lawn Bowling Club exercised some neighbourly spirit Saturday, donating $1,000 to the Kiwanis Affordable Housing Project, a development right beside the club.

Jan. 29

After more than a few high-profile livestock attacks, regional district director Julian Fell wants the RDN to consider changing Coombs/Errington’s current animal control bylaw in an effort to address “dogs at large.”

• An 81-year-old  Bowser woman was airlifted to Vancouver hospital Tuesday night with serious injuries after a car accident that shut down Island Highway in Dashwood for five hours Tuesday.

Feb. 3

Eighteen months into her first job as an elected official, Parksville-Qualicum MLA Michelle Stilwell took her place in the inner circle of the provincial government on Monday, sworn in as the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation.

• Compliance Energy has re-submitted its application for a coal mine less than 50 kilometres from downtown Qualicum Beach. In May of 2013, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office rejected the company’s application for the proposed Raven coal mine, saying “the application does not contain the required information…”

Feb. 5

Kirk Oates questioned the political will of his colleagues Monday night as Parksville city council started a debate about bylaws that could change the use of woodstoves in the community. The first-term councillor wants to ban the future installation of wood-burning appliances outright in city homes.

Feb. 10

Parksville is one of the sexiest cities in Canada. According to an annual poll conducted by PinkCherry, Parksville is the 22nd ranking city in the entire country, measured by the sales of sex toys, adult novelties and lingerie. Our quaint, little city is ninth in B.C. and second on Vancouver Island next to Victoria.

• In a landmark decision, the country’s top court unanimously ruled Friday that Canadians have the right to die. It’s welcome news for Parksville resident Bill Martin, a longtime advocate for the right to die.

Feb. 12

With its future in jeopardy, Storybook Village is looking for a happy ending. The child-scale village has been a family hub in the middle of Qualicum Beach for five years, but Building Learning Together is struggling to maintain it and is looking to the community for ideas and support.

Feb. 17

French Creek residents are unhappy about a proposal that could see their water bills increased by more than

45 per cent over the next three years. The private company that supplies water to about 2,000 homes in the French Creek area — Epcor — has applied to the B.C. Comptroller of Water Rights for a rate increase that could see a resident’s monthly bill go to $66.17 in 2017.

• A local family wants to use a scary incident at Top Bridge Regional Park near Parksville Feb. 8 as a safety warning, especially around the area’s rain-swollen rivers. “My daughter was standing on the rocks and something slipped under her foot and she fell into the river,” said Dan Mackay, describing the 17-year-old as very careful and responsible.

Feb. 19

Death sentences may be the only way to stop the destruction of the Englishman River estuary by Canada geese, Parksville city council heard this week. Tim Clermont and John Cooper of a group called the Guardians of Mid-Island Estuaries appeared before council Monday night, asking for $8,000 to continue their addling program and to develop a management strategy.

• Four friendly fowl, native to sub-Saharan Africa, are wandering around the Craig Bay neighbourhood, mystifying residents who are concerned for their safety.

Feb. 24

A compassion club in downtown Parksville is now distributing pot-based products. Though Pheonix Pain Management Society said it won’t distribute medical marijuana from its Parksville site until the city is on board, managing director Akil Pessoa stocked the shelves Friday with cannabinoid (CBD) products.

• While people in many of the 91 participating cities across Canada braved sub-zero temperatures for the annual Coldest Night of the Year walk, Parksville’s inaugural walk was treated to 12 C and sun. Hosted by the Island Crisis Care Society and supported by the Oceanside Task Force On Homelessness, the Saturday night event raised around $25,000 locally.

Feb. 26

Three local Mounties are facing charges of assault with a weapon, stemming from an alleged incident in Parksville jail cells in June of 2013, according to the Ministry of Justice. The case is being investigated by the Independent Investigation Office. A charge of assault with a weapon has been approved against Oceanside RCMP Const. Scott Kennedy Jones, Cpl. Michelle Rene Lebrun and Const. Mick Donald White.

• Regional district directors pledged their support Tuesday night for NDP MP Jean Crowder’s bill to deal with derelict vessels, slated to set sail in the House of Commons today.

 

March 3

Local residents will get their first opportunity to see and hear from the people who want to represent them in the House of Commons through an International Women’s Day-inspired forum Sunday in Parksville.

• Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney says the policies of some of the nation’s biggest banks influenced law societies to discriminate against a B.C. university’s law program graduates. Lunney stood in the House of Commons last week “to draw attention to the astounding revelation that banks and big corporate interests under the rubric Legal Leaders for Diversity have unleashed a concerted effort to exclude persons with religious conviction from economic opportunity in their organizations.”

March 5

Parksville city council had a first look Monday at staff plans to battle erosion on one of the country’s greatest beaches. Director of engineering Vaughn Figueira presented to council a consultant’s report on what’s happening in Parksville Bay and how the city might protect against the damage caused by King tides and winter storms.

• Pi is celebrating somewhat of a birthday as far as mathematical constants are concerned. On March 14, 2015 at 1:26 p.m. (which is

9:26 p.m. Greenwich time) techies will unite for their second Raspberry Jam, an event celebrating a small, but powerful palm sized device known as the Raspberry Pi.

March 10

Issues facing women in this country are, or should be, important to men too, federal election candidates told a standing-room-only crowd in Parksville on Sunday, International Women’s Day.

• The Pacific herring — small, silvery energy-rich fish that band together in a theatrical spawn once a year — have come and gone. While they are one of the most abundant fish in B.C.’s coastal waters, many communities have suffered a decrease in stock suspected from overfishing.

March 12

Youth, traffic and crime reduction are the Oceanside RCMP’s top priorities this year, according to chief of police Brian Hunter. Addressing the Regional District of Nanaimo’s board of directors, Hunter said the priorities are a result of statistics and meetings with elected officials and community groups.

• The Parksville Downtown Business Association plans to spend $22,000 sprucing up the streets of the city in 2015, members learned at the group’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.

March 17

Funding for a $37 million water infrastructure project in Parksville is on hold, but planning work has to continue, according to the Englishman River Water Service board. “The obvious lack of knowledge of DFO (Department of Fisheries and Oceans) staff is a serious concern,” said chair Joe Stanhope at an emergency meeting Friday morning to discuss a surprising letter.

• In an age of artisan crackers and gluten-free everything — what does it even mean to be organic? That’s what the B.C. government is trying to figure out.

The Ministry of Agriculture is looking to regulate the term “organic” through a certification program that would see standards put in place for farmers who want to call their practices and products organic.

March 19

Police officers gave out something other than lucky charms on St. Patricks’ Day. Mounties issued 100 violation tickets during an annual undercover distracted driving campaign set up in Nanoose Bay — the efforts are part of a province-wide campaign to curb texting and talking on the phone while behind the wheel.

• Sixteen local high school students are taking part in the annual Qualicum Beach Fire Camp March 15 to 21. For seven days the students will get an up-close and personal look at emergency response organizations including Parksville and Qualicum Beach fire departments, B.C. Ambulance Service, Oceanside RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

March 24

British Columbian researchers are trying to answer the age-old question: what is the secret to a long, healthy life? To help find the answer, lead researcher Angela Brooks-Wilson said she’s seeking “super seniors” to take part in the Canada-wide study.

• A blight affecting arbutus trees on Vancouver Island may not be a big worry, according to the experts. “Neofusicoccum arbuti, a fungus that occurs naturally in this region, can cause stem and branch cankers and some of the branch dieback,” said Dr. Brenda Callan, scientist with Natural Resources Canada at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria.

March 26

Village Way and Qualicum Road won’t get an illuminated pedestrian crossing any time soon, disappointing the new Qualicum Woods Residents’ Association. Council requested a staff report on the possible “special crosswalk” after the association asked for safety improvements to the intersection at the March 2 council meeting.

• A French Creek mother with her second child on the way is fighting to keep a Telus cell phone tower out of her Sandpiper subdivision, fearing potential health hazards for her family. “Can you tell me conclusively there will be no harm to my daughter?,” Genelle Conn, holding back tears,  asked the Regional District of Nanaimo board at Tuesday night’s meeting, to no response.

March 31

The population in Parksville and the surrounding rural areas increased slightly, by 0.6 and 0.9 per cent respectively, while the population in Qualicum Beach dipped by 0.5 per cent.  As of 2014 Parksville’s population was 12,227, Qualicum Beach came in at 8,500 and the surrounding areas cumulatively recorded a population of 39,085 which includes Deep Bay/Bowser, Coombs/Errington, Nanoose Bay, French Creek, Cedar and Pleasant Valley.

• Driving an energy-efficient vehicle just got a little cheaper. The B.C. government announced last week that those who purchase battery powered and plug-in hybrid cars can save up to $5,000 through a revived emission-free vehicle subsidy. It’s welcome news for Parksville’s director of community planning Blaine Russell, an electric vehicle enthusiast and driver since 2012.

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