West Shore News Through the Decades, week of Jan. 29

An aged war vet gets his due, a William Head convict escapes to a new cell, and a Colwood man tracks his dog through deep snow

2006

Keith Martin is heading back to Ottawa for a fifth term as MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca, but he returns to Parliament as a member of the Liberal Opposition to a Tory government. Martin was in Opposition for the first 10 years of his political career as a member of the Reform/Canadian Alliance parties. He switched to the Liberals prior to the 2003 campaign and won election as part of a short-lived minority government, but says he’s excited to be back, even in opposition.

Also making news the week of Jan. 29, 2006:

War vet Norman Wallace, 89, is awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, which he says is a wonderful honour for which he’s waited a long time. He served as a Regimental Sergeant-Major of the Black Watch Regiment UN Forces in the Gaza Strip from 1962-64, living in harsh conditions where spiders, scorpions, sandstorms and mines were commonplace.

And, West Shore property values are soaring, with average values up 20 per cent from this time last year, as demand outstrips supply and low interest rates drive values up. Overall, Colwood’s assessment roll increases from $1.88 billion in 2005 to $2.17 billion this year. Langford’s rises from $2.59 billion to $3.17 billion, while Metchosin jumps from $785 million to $934 million.

1996

Tragedy strikes, as a Colwood girl dies from head injuries she sustains in a car crash at Happy Valley and Winter roads. Tiffany Anne Forrest, 16, was a passenger in a car that struck a hydro pole just after midnight, a crash in which the cause was not immediately apparent. The driver and another passenger are hospitalized in serious condition, while a third passenger is treated and released. Forrest was noted as a top-notch fastball player.

Also making news the week of Jan. 29, 1996:

Lars Hellstrom gets what he wanted: a transfer from William Head prison, which he described as “paradise,” to the maximum security Kent Institution on the mainland. The move comes with a 90-day price tag, the sentence handed down after his conviction for escaping from the Metchosin prison. Hellstrom, whose record includes 27 armed robberies and a conviction for break/enter and theft, says he didn’t like being near the large population of sex offenders at William Head, known on the inside as “skinners.”

And, Rob Blake’s efforts to find his lost dog, Jet, involve nine hours trekking through the dark in waist-high snow in the Sooke woods, all the while calling the dog’s name. The Colwood man walks about 25 kilometres before finding Jet in snow so deep that at one point he and fellow searchers are on their hands and knees crawling up a mountain.

1986

Police recover $776 worth of $63,000 in property believed to be stolen during a spree of break-and-enters that began in July 1985 and stopped with the arrest of a 15-year-old youth. The teen appeared to not have a flamboyant lifestyle nor expensive tastes, which leads police to wonder what was done with the rest of the stolen goods.

Also making news the week of Jan. 29, 1986:

Ron Crawford has had enough of break-ins at his businesses and posts a $100 reward. The owner of both Millstream and Allied Used Auto Parts has experienced a “plague of break-and-entries,” with no leads. The worst of it comes on Jan. 23 when thieves cut through the three locks to get away with a new cutting torch, various gauges and a complete socket set, a haul worth more than $600. A sign on the window of his business now shows a drawing of a hand holding a gun, and the slogan “Never mind the dog, Beware of owner.”

And, a police officer pulls over a red 1971 Mazda pickup after it passes the police car weaving erratically down Goldstream Avenue. The 17-year-old male driving proved to be drunk and on top of that had stolen the truck and was taken into custody.

– Compiled by Arnold Lim

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