Walking through the past 12 months: 2017 in review

We recap some of the top news of the year, along with selected images that helped tell the stories

January

4 – The Department of National Defence (DND) considers parting with the Royal Roads site. DND has owned the site the Colwood-based university sits on since acquiring it from the Dunsmuir family during the Second World War. But much has changed since then and the department no longer “has an operational need for the Royal Roads property” and is considering various options for disposal. Esquimalt Nation and Songhees First Nation both expressed interest in the land.

6 – The community continues to mourn the sudden death of Malahat Fire Chief Rob Patterson, who left behind a family of firefighters. Patterson died doing what he loved, helping people. While not on an official call for the department, he was assisting an ATV rider who had gotten stuck in the snow when he suffered from a medical emergency. Patterson, 53, dedicated more than 19 years of service to the Malahat department.

11 – The man that led the Westshore Rebels to their most successful season in recent years has decided not to return for the 2017 season. J.C. Boice was hired by the struggling organization two years ago and took the team from 2-8 in his first year coaching to a 2016 season that ended with a Cullen Cup B.C. title and a Canadian Bowl appearance. Boice says the decision was a difficult one while citing a desire to spend more time with his family and focus on his work with the National Football Academy, a player development company he co-owns.

Belmont Bulldog Danny Sang looks to power past Oak Bay’s Leo Man during a tournament game on Dec. 29 at Belmont secondary. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

18 – It’s not a common sight on the West Shore but a recent cold spell has residents flocking to frozen bodies of water to take advantage of the ice for some winter activity. Despite warnings from the City of Langford and the local fire department, skaters climb over barricades and yellow tape to lace up and hit the ice.

20 – Langford’s first and only pot shop opens its doors and is promptly raided by police one day later. The West Shore RCMP moved quickly to shut down the Green Tree Medical Dispensary in the 600-block of Goldstream Avenue, which is a stone’s throw from the detachment. Langford bylaw also visits the shop, advising the owner they are not operating in accordance with city bylaws.

27 – A Colwood school and the community is grieving following a weekend collision that claimed the life of a nine-year-old Wishart Elementary school student. Evelyn Ooms was also an atom player with Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey and was travelling to a game at the time of the crash.

February

1 – Metchosinites give the green light to an historic land swap deal involving Metchosin, Langford and Beecher Bay First Nation. More than 75 per cent of Metchosin residents that voted in a referendum were in favour of the deal. Clearing another hurdle, the deal has been given the green light to enter final negotiations.

8 – Sooke Road residents who live near Luxton Fairgrounds aren’t surprised by the number of crashes that occur on that stretch of roadway given the number of speeders and dangerous drivers they see on a daily basis. A recent crash, involving a car and a logging truck, sent three to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries. The cause of that crash is unclear.

15 – The future is uncertain for a group of mobile home residents at the Thetis Lake Campground in View Royal. The park is home to 17 homeowners who were alerted to the news the property would be sold as the owners are looking to retire. A sales agreement has been entered into with a developer who plans to submit a rezoning application to the Town of View Royal.

17- A doctor shortage causes the closure of one of three walk-in clinics on the West Shore and a cutback in opening hours at another. Residents are frustrated by a lack of services as they desperately try to find access to open walk-in clinics or doctors in general.

22- The Royal Bay Ravens junior girls basketball team is not only the best in the region but also best on the Island. The junior girls continue to drive the ball to the basket this week and are ranked third in the province with their win at the Island championship in Nanaimo last weekend. They sit at a stellar 35-2 record for the season and will face off against some of the best teams in B.C. next month on the mainland.

24 – Langford council pulls rank in West Shore Parks and Recreation budget talks and takes a bold step to pressure the society’s owners into re-evaluating its governance model and cost distribution formula. Rather than sending the society another notice, council rejects the proposed 2017 budget after some careful consideration. This move forces the society to operate on last year’s budget, causing some cuts and careful belt tightening.

March

1 – For the first time in a long time, residents and local politicians are cautiously optimistic about the future of a commuter rail service between the West Shore and downtown Victoria. After conversations with transportation Minister Todd Stone and BC Transit, Langford Mayor Stew Young says steps are being taken in the right direction.

3 – The Victoria Grizzlies prepare to hit the ice in a B.C. Hockey League playoff series against the Nanaimo Clippers. Despite the 30-point difference in the standings between the Island Division leaders and the fourth-place Clippers, the Grizzlies know that playoffs are a different animal. So far, the Grizzlies have gone this season with a 37-12-5-4 record and the Clippers sit at 23-28-6-1.

3/8 – A two-part series takes an in depth look at the opioid crisis on the West Shore and the far reaching impact it has. While toted as a life-saving drug, local paramedics warn naloxone doesn’t reverse the damage done to the brain from a lack of oxygen during an overdose, leaving many with brain damage. Part two takes a look at local first responders and how they’re dealing with the drain on resources and emotions.

10 – Brazen thieves crash through a gas station in a stolen truck in Langford. The early morning theft occurs at the Shell gas station on West Shore Parkway, near the Trans-Canada Highway. In a security video, the thieves can be seen driving the truck in reverse through the glass store front and slamming into an ATM at the rear of the store. They load the entire machine into the bed of truck. The vehicle and empty machine were later discovered in the Goldstream Provincial Park area.

Students and staff at Eagle View elementary in View Royal throw pairs of new socks at principal Brent de Nat as part of the school’s sock drive for Our Place. More than 800 pairs were collected, with thousands more expected at other area schools participating in the fun campaign.(Don Descoteau/News Gazette staff)

17 – Langford Fire Rescue looks for connections to help Afghan firefighter Chief Ghulam Hazrat. Hazrat visited Langford back in 2008 for a training and cultural exchange and became quick friends with members of the local department. But in 2011 Hazrat survived a suicide bomb attack and needs more surgeries after complications continue to arise from that attack.

29 – The final leg of a cross-municipal trail connector is acquired by the Capital Regional District, completing a 25-kilometre loop that connects several of the region’s parks. The acquisition of a 1-hectare (roughly 25 acre) parcel near Mary Lake in Highlands was purchased by the CRD from the Greater Victoria Greenbelt society for $500,000.

31- With two B.C. Hockey League playoff series victories under their belt, the Victoria grizzlies gear up to face off against the Chilliwack Chiefs in the semifinals. The Grizzlies defeated the Powell River Kings after an emotional seven game series.

April

5 – West Shore Parks and Recreation Society is looking for other revenue sources after it was announced that Rock the Shores music festival would be cancelled for 2017. Organizers of the Colwood-based music festival cite limited available of suitable headliners, market saturation and competition nationwide due to Canada 150 celebrations as reasons why they would be taking a hiatus in 2017.

7 – This year’s inductee class for the Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame and Museum is a varied one that includes championship drivers and builders in the sport. Cowichan Valley-based drivers Scott Aumen and Darren Yates, fierce and successful competitor son the sprint car and modified circuits; Jim McKay, who owned the mini stock class in the late ’80s and early ’90s, and former international karting star Johnny Sutton will be inducted. Pioneer Award recipient Ken Osman is being recognized for his work providing pace cars and overseeing the trophy presentations for more than 20 years, while fellow Pioneer recipient Wally Lum is best known for enjoying success racing B modifieds in the 1960s.

12 – Langford’s goal of creating a business park on Sooke Road takes another step towards fruition as the City begins the rezoning process for 12 parcels on Sooke and Cogan roads. A portion of the roughly 380 acres that now falls within Langford city limits after a historic land swap deal with Metchosin and Beecher Bay First Nation has been earmarked for a new business park, cluster housing and rural residential lots.

19, 23, 26 – A three-part series shares West Shore residents’ experiences with BC Transit service and explores topics such as ways dedicated bus lanes could reduce wait times in the Crawl, while encouraging more residents to leave their cars at home. The series also looks at reasons why residents aren’t taking the bus.

26 – The Belmont Bulldogs turn heads at the B.C. High School Girls Sevens Rugby Championships in Vancouver. The second-year squad, featuring just two Grade 11 and two Grade 12 players among a collection of younger athletes, comes within seconds of forcing overtime against defending champion Oak Bay in the final, only to lose 15-10 on an Oak Bay try with no time on the clock.

28 – A Metchosin farmer is playing catch up, trying to make up for a cold, rainy winter which has put the growing season behind. With the 2016 growing season several weeks ahead of the norm, 2017 is off to a rocky start with wet fields and late snowfall pushing early crops back about four weeks.

May

3 – An undetected fire causes significant damage to a home in View Royal and displaces a family. The fire, in the 300-block of Gull Avenue, was reported at around 4 a.m. Sunday morning and 18 firefighters were on scene until 7. The fire is believed to have started in an exterior light fixture on the garage before it spread to the attic and burned for sometime before activating the home’s smoke detectors.

5 – The City of Langford announces the end of two services due to low ridership numbers. The Latoria Greenline and the Langford trolley will continue service until the end of June. The Langtoria Greenline is a pilot project which began last fall in the hopes of giving commuters a luxurious option. But by the end of 2016, ridership levels meant the City was subsidizing the service to the tune of $20.83 per rider per day. The trolley began operation 10 years ago but its ridership numbers have declined in recent years.

10 – Royal Roads University and Songhees Nation sign an memorandum of understanding with regards to the property the university sits on. Late last year the Department of National Defence announced the Hately Park land is surplus and the department is considering disposing of it. Songhees and Esquimalt Nations expressed interest in the property as park of their historical territory and said they would pursue “sensible” development.

BC NDP leader and Langford-Juan de Fuca MLA-elect John Horgan speaks to supporters in Vancouver following the provincial election. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)

12 – The results are in but there’s no clear winner in the 2017 provincial election with absentee ballots still being counted and recounts taking place in a number of close ridings. Leading the NDP, John Horgan easily claims his fourth term in the legislature, capturing more than 50 per cent of the popular vote. Running for the first time for the NDP, Mitzi Dean claims a seat in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding.

12 – Racing is a family affair at Western Speedway in Langford and that’s no exception for the Jenson family. The father-daughter duo face off this season at the track. Kaylyn participated in her first race in the Old Time Racers Association series on April 22, the 40th season opener for the series, finishing in a very respectable seventh place in the feature main. George Jenson ended up capturing the 50th OTRA win of his career with the help of his son Chris, a member of his pit crew.

31 – Canada had a very real chance to become the first home side to win a tournament in the World Rugby HSBC Womens Sevens Series. But the series-leading New Zealand Black Ferns had something to say about that and dominated the Langford-based team, clinching the series title with a 19-7 win in the Cup final at Westhills Stadium, leaving Canada with silver.

31 – The leaders of the B.C. Greens and the B.C. NDP announce their intention to form a minority government. In an election too close to call on May 9, the B.C. Liberals emerged with 43 seats, the NDP with 41 and Greens with three after all the votes were counted. Liberal leader Christy Clark carefully considers her next steps.

June

2 – New charges have been laid against Kenneth Jacob Fenton, the man who plead guilty in the death of West Shore RCMP officer Const. Sarah Beckett. These charges relate to an incident that occurred on Goldstream Heights Road in the Malahat area on May 22, 2016 – just a few weeks after the fatal crash in Langford. He is charged with impaired driving causing bodily harm, causing an accident resulting in bodily harm, and flight causing bodily harm after a single vehicle crash.

7 – Langford Fire Chief Bob Beckett hangs up his gear this month after serving the City of Langford for nearly 21 years. Beckett has worked in the fire service for roughly 41 years and not having a pager going off at 2 a.m. is an adjustment he’s okay with. His journey in the fire service has sent him to the Bosnian War, New York after the 9/11 attacks, Afghanistan, Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots, Afghanistan, Mexico and more.

9 – Several hundred pieces of mail stolen from across B.C. are recovered by the West Shore RCMP after an arrest in Langford. Local police responded to a suspicious vehicles parked in the 3100-block of Jacklin Road and two men were taken into custody after evidence of a controlled substance was discovered in the vehicle.

14 – A traffic control person is lucky to be alive after being struck by a vehicle. Crews were working on Sooke Road, near Luxton Fairgrounds, and initial reports from witnesses say the flagger was attempting to stop a vehicle when she was hit. The impact sent both the flagger and the vehicle careening down an embankment into a ditch.

20 – Belmont Secondary school teacher Kristopher Walushka is named to Canda’s national softball team, earning one of five available spots for the 2017 team after tryouts in Ontario and will compete in two tournaments this summer.

30 – The Christie Point redevelopment proposal from Toronto-based Realstar Group is met with mixed reactions during an almost six-hour long public hearing that wrapped up close to midnight. Roughly 200 people were in attendance with approximately 55 voicing their opinions on the topic. Opposition to the project has been strong throughout public consultations.

Jesse Roper kicked off Canada Day celebrations at Westshore Town Centre in Langford. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

July

5 – The rental crisis is hitting one Langford family especially hard. Doctors have given Falco Koehler just months to live but the terminal brain cancer patient and his family will have to move if the owner of their rental home sells the two-bedroom house. If that’s the case, they’re not sure where they’ll be able to go in one of Canada’s toughest rental markets.

5 – Langford resident and MLA John Horgan becomes B.C.’s new premier, the first from the Island in more than six decades. The combined forces of the B.C. NDP and the B.C. Green parties defeated the Liberal government in a vote of non-confidence. Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon then asked Horgan to form the province’s next government, ending 16 years of B.C. Liberal rule.

7 – Seven local athletes from the Songhees Nation are gearing up to compete for B.C. in their respective sports at the North American Indigenous Games in Toronto later this month. Joshua Bryce, Caleb Sam, Lukas Dick, Michael Maresca Rayn Cook-Thomas, and Nathan and Gavin Sam, along with roughly 5,000 other athletes, will compete at the event.

12 – West Shore fire departments are put on standby and prepare to send crews to the wildfire-ravaging B.C.’s Interior. View Royal Fire Chief Paul Hurst is already deployed and is in Williams Lake, where a series of fires are an estimated 10,000 hectares combined.

19 – The community is outraged when Kenneth Jacob Fenton is sentenced to four years behind bars for his role in the death of West Shore RCMP officer Const. Sarah Beckett. He will also be prohibited from driving for five years following his incarceration.

19 – A quick moving brush fire along Sooke Road destroys one cabin and takes local firefighters roughly three hours to contain. The cause of the fire is under investigation but witnesses say they saw a motorhome dragging something that was sparking. In total, 25 firefighters from five departments responded to the blaze which started just before the evening rush.

August

11 – Work is finally set to resume on the Colwood Corners site on Sooke Road. The developer, the Onni Group, announces site preparation work will begin in mid-August for the commercial and residential project that will feature 471 residential units.

16 – The City of Langford and the Sooke School District are partnering in a land swap deal in hopes of getting two pieces of property removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve. SD62 has expressed interest in a site on Latoria Road in Langford to build new middle and elementary schools, but two parcels within that site are in the ALR and the Agricultural Land Commission has rejected two requests to have them removed. In a final attempt, the district offers another parcel it owns in Colwood for inclusion if the two Langford properties can be removed.

25 – The West Shore community is reeling after the loss of beloved Colwood librarian Muriel May Crompton. Known as May, she was an integral part of the staff at Dunsmuir Middle School in Colwood and had been with the school for more than a decade. Crompton died nearly two weeks after suffering life-threatening injuries sustained in a bicycle crash in Victoria.

30 – It’s not the ending they were hoping for, especially with the stellar season the Victoria Shamrocks had. But they came up short against the New Westminster Salmonbellies in the Western Lacrosse Association final, putting an end to the team’s quest for a Mann Cup repeat.

30 – School hasn’t officially started but enrolment numbers are on track to be higher than anticipated. While officials will have to wait until late September before numbers are finalized, they are predicting numbers will be especially tight at the high school level. The Sooke School District had to accommodate the addition of roughly 30 new classrooms for the school year because of changes to class size regulations paired with the expected growth on the West Shore.

Youth enjoy a ride on the sizzler at the Luxton Fall Fair on Sunday. Hundreds of people showed up to the fair, which included games, rides, sand drags, exhibtions and demonstrations, as well as canning and baking competitions. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

September

8 – The Royal Canadian Legion Prince Edward Branch 91 is marking its 90th anniversary this year and members have big plans for the future after finding a forgotten relic from the building’s groundbreaking ceremony in 1965.

15 – The Onni Group, the Vancouver-based developer of the Colwood Corners site, is offering up the old Colwood pub for free. The catch is anyone interested in the building will have to pay all of the costs associated with moving the iconic pub.

27 – Mayor Stew Young sends out an open invitation, hoping to put Langford on the map by landing the new Amazon headquarters. Amazon recently announced it is accepting bids to open a second headquarters in North America and Young thinks a site near the Leigh Road overpass would be the perfect location, especially with all of the amenities Langford and the region has to offer.

29 – West Shore recreation takes a hit this week as the Capital Regional District decides against posting lifeguards at the main beach at Thetis Lake Park. This move comes after a number of serious incidents at the lake this summer including three near drownings. Since 1999 there have been five drownings at the lake.

But that’s not all, the West Shore Parks and Recreation Society braces for a revenue shortfall and prepares for troubling times ahead. The society, which operates the Colwood-based facility and a number of satellite sites and programs notes there has been a roughly eight per cent decline in revenue this year.

October

4 – The Sooke School District is in a ‘state of crisis’ as it tries to deal with two many students and too few buses says education board chair Ravi Parmar. More than 300 students are on wait list for bus service in the district.

6 – The PACE community rallies around one of its families, hosting a fundraiser for Cathy and Nicki Shotton. Cathy donated her kidney to her daughter earlier this year after Nicki was dealt a death sentence. Nicki, a single mother and a Langford resident is recovering after the transplant but will have to take medication for the rest of her life. For one night only, PACE presents a special show, with all of the funds going to help cover Nicki’s medical bills.

13 – A local company gives the Goldstream Food Bank a big boost. Last month a semi truck crashed through a Parks Canada sign on the Trans-Canada Highway before coming to a stop against the rock face between Millstream and Six Mile roads. Westshore Towing owner David LeQuesne responded to the crash and has been told to throw out all of the food in the truck. He took matters into his own hands, donating the items to local food banks to help the community.

18, 25 – The Westshore Rebels are on a hot streak after losing their season opener against the Okanagan Sun. The local squad hasn’t lost a game since and run over the Langley Rams in their playoff opener. The Rebels continue to dominate in the playoffs but come up a little short in the Cullen Cup final, losing 21-7 to their Island rivals, the Raiders.

The team went 9-1 in the regular season and head coach Charly Cardilicchia is named B.C. Football Conference coach of the year along with Trey Campbell as top offensive back and Christian Krause as top offensive lineman.

A homeless camp caught fire in View Royal by the Trans-Canada Highway in October. Firefighters helped douse the flames. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

November

1 – Langford resident Joanne Cowan and her 19 teammates paddle to victory at the 13th annual Wold Nations Dragon Boat Championships in Kunming, China. The Canadian senior C women’s team (age 60 plus) brought home three gold medals in the two kilometre and the 200 and 500 metre races. In total, Canada brought home 28 gold medals, 13 silver and eight bronze.

8 – Belmont Secondary school principal Ray Miller gets ready to retire at the end of the year. What makes his retirement even more special is he is also the recipient of an outstanding administrator award from the B.C. Music Educators Association – an honour that brought Miller to tears.

15 – The District of Metchosin and the Sooke School District reach an agreement that allows the District to purchase the old Metchosin elementary school but the community won’t be able to reap the benefits for several years. For the next five years the school will be in the hands of a property management company and commercial realtor, who will be overseeing the rental of the building.

17 – Plans for the expansion of Royal Bay Secondary school could be moving forward as early as next year. Talks between the province and SD62 have been going well and the District is hoping to hear about capital funding for the project by the end of the year. Once funding is in place, the District can move forward with the design phase of the project, with construction potentially beginning at the end of 2018.

22 – Meet the newest View Royal councillor, Damian Kowalewich. Kowalewich won the byelection with 518 votes to take over the seat vacated by Coun. Heidi Rast, who moved to P.E.I. for work.

29 – Work on the Millstream Road overpass in Langford will get underway early next year and will hopefully be completed by the May long weekend. The project was originally delayed this year when only one bid, roughly 20 per cent over budget, came in when the project was first tendered. Work includes the addition of a second southbound left-turn lane for the Trans-Canada Highway.

December

1 – Belmont Secondary school’s senior girls volleyball AAAA team and Royal Bay Secondary’s senior boys AAA team are gearing up for provincials in Langley. The Ravens earned their spot after defeating the Claremont Spartans i three straight sets. Both teams finished strong in provincial play, with the Belmont girls earning their second provincial title – third if you count their win as a junior squad.

6 – Broadway hit Chicago comes to town this month thanks to the Langford economic development committee (EDC) in partnership with Bayview Plance and Broadway in Victoria. And it’s benefiting local organizations as well as the EDC is donating $10,000 to the Goldstream Food Bank, $3,000 to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 91, and $1,000 to Another Brick in the Nepal’s earthquake relief.

8 – One Colwood resident voices concerns over speeding on Cairndale Road, which is an area the City is already looking at. However, his concerns spark a debate amongst motorists that use the roadway as a connection between Veterans Memorial Parkway and Wishart Road. A number of motorists write in, saying the speed limit on the roadway, which is 30 km/h, should be increased to 50 km/h.

Santa Claus flew down from the North Pole to pay a special visit to children at Victoria General Hospital, including four-year-old Zander George and his seven-year-old sister, Avalon, on Thursday. Santa was originally supposed to arrive via Helijet earlier this week, but snow kept him grounded. But that didn’t stop him from returning a few days later to deliver teddy bears to the hospital’s littlest patients. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

15 – Staff and students at Belmont Secondary school reunite a Victoria resident with a long-lost World War One medal. In a tearful presentation the medal, which once belonged to George Alexander Doty is presented to his great-great niece, Sharon Hoover.

20 – The province announces $23.3 million in funding for a land purchase in Langford. The site in Westhills will allow the Sooke School District to build new middle and elementary schools. However, funding will still need to be secured to build the schools.

22 – Langford’s first premier, John Horgan and his wife Ellie sit down with the Gazette to discuss some of the ways their lives have changed since the election in May. The pair is looking forward to having the whole family together for Christmas.

Find these stories and more online at the goldstreamgazette.com under e-editions.


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editor@goldstreamgazette.com

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