Thursday April 24, 2014

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The Year in Review: Part two

New in review
File photo

The world famous RCMP Musical Ride played a dazzling show at Ryan Dempster Field in Gibsons in front of more than 4,000 people in last July.


• The hissing of summer lawn sprinklers could become a thing of the past on the Sunshine Coast if tough conservation measures are adopted to buy time and save millions of dollars in water system upgrades. Major upgrades are needed to the Chapman Lake system over the next 25 years — and even with more restrictive outdoor watering and universal metering,— the price tag will be an estimated $36 million.

• Some Sechelt residents were pressuring council to reverse their decision to build a new sewage treatment plant on Ebbtide Street. About 160 residents who questioned things like the location of the new plant and its high cost met in a citizens’ forum hosted by the Sunshine Coast Senior Citizens’ Organization and the Sechelt Sewage Coalition.

• The outpouring of love and support for Mujtaba Saloojee and his family continued to grow along the Sunshine Coast with a major gesture coming from Extra Foods in Sechelt. Extra Foods, through its President’s Choice Children’s Charity, presented a cheque for $20,000 to Muj and his family during a ceremony at the store.

• Financial difficulties, an in-depth assessment by Environment Canada and a newly-filed warrant to seize the HMCS Annapolis could spell the end of the Artificial Reef Society of B.C.’s (ARSBC) plan to sink the war ship in Halkett Bay. The ARSBC was set to sink the 115-metre destroyer to create an artificial reef in Halkett Bay (off the southeastern shore of Gambier Island) last fall but a final inspection from Environment Canada held up the process.

• Work on building the new Gibsons Elementary School officially began with the construction start-up marked with a ceremonial sod turning. Dignitaries and members of School District No. 46 (SD46) spoke to a sea of students sporting yellow hard hats as well as many community members gathered for the big day.

• Sunshine Coast students got involved in the provincial election through Student Vote, a chance for young voters to mark a ballot similar to the official one adults used. Thousands of students from across B.C. took part.

On the Coast, students from Kinnikinnick Elementary School, Pender Harbour Elementary and Secondary, Chatelech Sec-ondary, Elphinstone Sec-ondary and the Sun-shine Coast Alternative School marked a ballot.

• NDP incumbent MLA Nicholas Simons headed back to the legislature in Victoria — once again as a part of the official opposition.

On provincial election day May 14, Simons was elected with 11,931 votes (54.91 per cent of the popular vote) in Powell River-Sunshine Coast. Liberal Patrick Muncaster was second with 7,203 votes (33.15 per cent) and Green Richard Till came third with 2,594 (11.94 per cent).

• A suggestion that the Gibsons pool could be “phased out” in the future sparked a passionate debate at the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD) community services committee meeting. Reviewing workshop notes for the draft SCRD parks and recreation master plan, directors took aim at a section outlining the option of phasing out the Gibsons and District Aquatic Facility if attendance figures do not increase.

• The company providing foot-passenger ferry service from Bowen Island was looking at adding a Gibsons-to-Vancouver run to its schedule. English Bay Launch was conducting an online survey to gauge public interest for the idea of a regular service to downtown, and co-owner Mike Shannon said the number of responses had reached 700 when Coast Reporter spoke to him in early May.

• Sechelt council scrapped the one-way Cowrie Street plan at their May 22 committee of the whole meeting after hearing the businesses they were trying to help clearly didn’t want it.

A staff report to that effect showed the majority of downtown merchants didn’t support a one-way option for Cowrie Street, despite the plan’s promise of more parking stalls.

• After four years and $500,000, the Town of Gibsons aquifer mapping study’s final report recommended 15 major actions to monitor, conserve and protect the water supply for more than two-thirds of the Town. The final report was unveiled on May 16 to an overflow council chamber and greeted with sustained applause from more than 60 people in attendance.

• Mike Gojevic is a walking, breathing miracle. Just three and a half months prior the Halfmoon Bay man’s lungs had all but stopped working and he was literally one breath away from death. All that changed when a life-saving double lung transplant was performed in February.

• The District of Sechelt was picked as one of the first municipalities to be given a performance audit through the office of the auditor general for local government along with 17 other municipalities in B.C. The report was to be compiled over the next year and released to the public in March 2014.

• There was a possibility of picket signs in the District of Sechelt’s future after unionized employees voted 93 per cent in favour of striking on May 27.

The vote meant the roughly 40 unionized employees working in administration and public works had 90 days to contemplate serving 72-hour strike notice on the District.


• Abuse of seniors is becoming more prevalent in society, yet most people don’t know how to spot the symptoms or offer help. That’s why World Elder Abuse Awareness Day was declared — to raise the profile of the problem and educate the public. Communities around the world are trying to tackle the problem, and on the Coast the Community Response Network was formed to raise awareness, educate and insure a coordinated response to instances of elder abuse.

• The Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) would be getting into the energy business. SIB Chief Garry Feschuk and council signed a memorandum of understanding to form a partnership with Allteck Line Contractors Inc.

The B.C. company contracts services like transmission line installation and repair to BC Hydro and other power providers.

• One of three totem poles bound for the entrance to St. Mary’s Hospital was being carved beside the hospital adjacent to Highway 101 by artist Andrew U’magalis Puglas and his team.

The carvers were skillfully bringing out figures of a noble woman, a double headed sea serpent and a great golden eagle from the eight-metre cedar pole.

• At noon on June 14, 45 members of the BC Gov-ernment Employees Union were on the picket line at the District of Sechelt. Evan Stewart, media spokesperson for the BCGEU, said no talks were scheduled although the BCGEU was certainly prepared to get back to the negotiating table and figure out a way to get through the impasse.

• Caps on rent increases under the provincial Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act are not binding on the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB), the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled.

In a June 5 decision, which sets aside a B.C. Supreme Court judgment from last year, the appeal court found the provincial act was not constitutionally applicable to SIB lands.

• After several months of non-stop beating the drum and paying the piper for a proposed Gibsons Public Market in the former yacht club in Lower Gibsons, Gerry Zipursky, one of three prime proponents of the proposal, would take the project to the next level.

• The District of Sechelt and striking union workers said they wanted to talk, but neither side was moving towards the bargaining table as the strike rolled into week two.

• The CapU board of governors passed its 2013/14 budget, cutting programs to offset a $1.3-million shortfall. While the North Vancouver and Squamish campuses bore the brunt of the cuts, funding for the Sechelt campus was also reduced, with $111,650 trimmed from the previous year’s budget.

• A total of 20 riders from the Lower and Upper Sunshine Coast managed to raise more than $80,000 for cancer research during the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

• Nearly 200 School District No. 46 (SD46) support staff workers could strike in the fall if bargaining for a new contract wasn’t successful by September.

Support workers in the K-12 school system throughout B.C. are covered by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and following the breakdown of talks at the provincial table, many locals are looking at strike action.

• Gibsons Sea Cavalcade organizers decided to put family first, moving Saturday’s street dance to the afternoon and closing with the annual fireworks show on Sunday night.

The schedule changes were made by the committee in an effort to cut down on the problems that were plaguing the event.

• Sechelt’s unionized employees asked to get back to the bargaining table on June 21, but the District delayed.

Chief of innovation and growth Ron Buchhorn said the talks would have to wait because senior staff members who had to be at the bargaining table were currently working the front counter.


• A flotilla of more than 150 vessels came together in a remote part of Howe Sound to make a collective statement about protecting the most southerly fjord in North America from heavy industry.

The June 30 SOS Save Our Sound Mariners’ Rendezvous was held north of Gambier Island near the mouth of McNab Creek, where the flotilla formed from noon to 2 p.m., protesting plans by Alberta-based aggregate giant Burnco Rock Products to transform the estuary into a gravel mine.

• It appeared that a petition signed by 374 residents was too little too late to stop construction on the $25 million wastewater treatment plant on Ebbtide Street in Sechelt. Ebbtide resident Betty Ann Pap presented the petition to council during the July 3 regular meeting. She said those who signed it weren’t happy with council’s decision to build a new wastewater treatment plant in “downtown Sechelt.”

• As his first order of business, new Education Minister Peter Fassbender suspended talks with teachers while he overhauled the bargaining process in pursuit of a 10-year deal. “The old way does not work. It is time for a new path, a new beginning,” Fassbender said. His new beginning included bringing in a government appointed mediator and removing the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA) from the bargaining table.

•The shíshálh First Nation was mourning the loss of one of its most beloved and respected leaders and advocates in education, culture and language. Donna Louisa Joe (Tla´Yaxwmat) passed away peacefully July 2 surrounded by family and friends at St. Mary’s Hospital in Sechelt.

• A Gibsons woman was trying to raise community support in her battle with B.C.’s assessment authority over its decision to levy property taxes on her houseboat.

Liz Williams, whose “flower boat” is one of Gibsons Harbour’s most colourful tourist attractions, received tremendous support from the public since Canada Day, when she posted a large pink sign on the dock detailing her ordeal. Her next step, she said, was to launch a petition campaign.

• The District of Sechelt and the company building a $25-million wastewater treatment plant on Ebbtide Street held a short-notice meeting to answer residents’ concerns about vibrations, noise and other construction issues.

The meeting was called after residents started complaining about vibrations caused by compaction on the site and the possible damage to homes as a result.

• Thanks to high water levels in Chapman Lake, stage one watering restrictions remained in effect for the SCRD water system.

Although there was a spike in consumption during the Canada Day long weekend, residents appear to have heeded the lessons from the previous year’s record drought and were conserving water and adhering to water restrictions.

• Unionized workers at the District of Sechelt went back to work after they accepted a three-year agreement, ending a month-long strike in Sechelt. The three-year-deal expires on Dec. 31, 2015 and came with a $1,000 signing bonus to be paid within two weeks of ratification. The deal also offered a wage increase of 1.5 per cent in the second year and 1.75 per cent in the third.

• A 4,000-year-old fishing village was unearthed up Sechelt Inlet, where archeologists and university students worked with nine Sechelt Nation youth to pick through their people’s past. The students were part of this year’s shíshálh Archaeological Research Project, which is a joint venture between the Sechelt Nation, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the University of Toronto.

• A new Coast car sharing program was pitched to Gibsons council with an anticipated fall start-up in Gibsons with five vehicles in its fleet. The Car Sharing Association is an umbrella group supporting some 20 car shares across North America. Currently, over 101,000 members in Canada share 3,143 vehicles through 19 car shares across the country including five in B.C.


• Outraged by revelations that residential school students had been systematically undernourished as part of a government-run experiment, First Nations people and their supporters took to the streets as part of a day of prayer and protest.

• A Langley pilot made an emergency landing in the field of Elphinstone Secondary School after experiencing mechanical issues in the air near Gibsons. Realizing he couldn’t safely fly the plane back to the airport in Wilson Creek, pilot Stan Corfe looked for a nearby field large enough to set down his Cessna 150. He landed safely without injury.

• A boat moored offshore in Sechelt Inlet being used as a home was burned beyond repair, despite the best efforts of nearby sailors and the Sechelt volunteer fire department.

• The push for a comprehensive land-use management plan for Howe Sound gained traction, with several key jurisdictions poised to join the call, according to Future of Howe Sound Society (FHSS) executive director Ruth Simons.

• A Sunshine Coast RCMP member received a suspended sentence and one-year probation after pleading guilty to assaulting a man during a 2011 traffic stop.

Under the terms of the sentence, Cpl. Murray McNeil was ordered to have no contact with the complainant, except through legal counsel, and to pay $500 in restitution to the complainant.

• A Transportation Safety Board report pointed to inadequate training and organizational oversight as risk factors in the accident that claimed the lives of two Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) members last year.

• The Sunshine Coast community was reeling after the tragic death of a promising young athlete from Roberts Creek.

Connor Richey, 20, died in hospital from injuries sustained after a fall from a railing at the Broadway and Commercial Sky Train station.

• The shíshálh (Sechelt) Nation’s Tem Swiya Museum officially reopened after a two-year closure, with hundreds of new artifacts and six new showcases added for key exhibits, including a 3-D display case for the famed Sechelt Image.

• A creek that once saw a few hundred salmon come back to spawn was teaming with thousands of fish in a record return the SIB celebrated.

• A Sechelt man was fined $750 for leaving the scene of an accident last summer that claimed the life of a 21-year-old woman.

Nicholas Forster, 20, was sentenced in Sechelt provincial court after pleading guilty to failing to comply with his duties as a driver at an accident scene under section 68 of the Motor Vehicle Act.



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