Making the news in January:
Jan. 8: Following a terrifying seizure suffered by Langford cancer patient Hannah Day, 4, her family makes a public plea for anyone who might be a potential stem cell donor to register and be tested. The transplant is desperately needed to help Hannah’s body fight off the effects of the leukemia attacking her frail little body. Later in the year she receives a transplant from her mother, a procedure that puts Hannah on the road to recovery.
Jan. 22: Colwood council debates how the city will spread out payments by residents for the Capital Regional District’s sewage treatment project capital costs. A motion is made to maintain the same structure as the previous year, with residents on sewer paying for their current use plus their share of evenly divided costs, and those on septic paying only the CRD project portion. The projected cost for Colwood homeowners is $103 for 2014, but jumps to $310 in 2018.
Jan. 31: Langford’s new aquatic centre is officially on its way to becoming a reality, as the city makes a joint announcement on the project with the YMCA-YWCA and Westhills. The new centre, slated to open in July 2016, will include include a lap pool, lazy river, warm water therapy pool, wave pool and two watersides. The main Y facility is due to open in the fall of 2015.
Making the news in February:
Feb. 5: The City of Langford’s ‘red tape reduction’ earns it a national Golden Scissors Award from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. The honour is given for the city’s abandoning of annual renewals of business license fees. Having studied how much staff time goes into processing the annual fees for home-based and other commercial businesses, the city moves to a one-time fee that covers licensing for as long as the company is operating in Langford.
Feb. 12: Colwood votes to ask the Capital Regional District for permission to change the regional sewage treatment plan in order to build its own facility. Aiming to save Colwood taxpayers money in the long run and address the fact three quarters of its residents are not hooked up to the sewer system, the city looks to create a plan that presents no risk or added cost to the CRD for its regional treatment project. The request is approved by the CRD board in March.
Feb. 19: Following the death of pedestrian Meesha Chan-Grubisic on Goldstream Avenue, family and friends come together to investigate ways of raising money to help provide a future for the woman’s 11-year-old daughter, Ruby. Chan-Grubisic died after being hit by a car while chasing her dog, which had escaped her control and run onto the street. Police said glare from the morning sun may have played a factor in the accident and prevented the driver, a 50-year-old Kamloops man, from being able to see the woman in time to stop.
Making the news in March
Mar. 5: Residents in a Langford neighbourhood worry about the future of lands formerly owned by the Provincial Capital Commission adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway. Former Langford resident Tricia Markle, whose mother still lives in the nearby Mill Hill area, is among those seeking to prevent development on the land and preserve it as greenspace. The land is cleared later in the year to make way for a residential development, exactly what the neighbours feared.
Mar. 12: The pride of Colwood is in full bloom as the city revels in its title of the Bloomingest Community in Greater Victoria. The announcement comes at the end of the 38th annual Flower Count. With more than one billion blooms counted, thanks in large part to the efforts of students at John Stubbs elementary, Colwood outdoes the likes of Victoria and Saanich for the crown.
Mar. 19: After being encouraged by numerous constituents to run for the provincial party leadership, Juan de Fuca NDP MLA John Horgan officially throws his hat in the ring. His announcement is an about-turn from his Oct. 2013 decision not to run, when he said he wanted to “get out of the way of our younger members.” Primary opponent Mike Farnworth steps down from the race the following month and Horgan is ultimately acclaimed in early May with no one else stepping up.
Mar. 28: Ladysmith native, TV personality and social activist Pamela Anderson takes to Twitter to denounce the upcoming Luxton Pro Rodeo, writing, “Vancouver Islanders, please don’t support the Luxton Rodeo! Help @VanHumane and @VCARE2013 end rodeo cruelty on the Island.” Her plea comes after being contacted by Victoria Citizens Against Rodeo Events, a group opposed to the use of animals in rodeos and seeking a ban on the event from the City of Langford.
Making the news in April
April 3: Students in the Sooke School District will have double the fun in spring 2015, after the school trustees vote to move to a two-week spring break. While community members are split on the move, the switch is expected to save the district $80,000 or more annually in labour and utility costs. It will also bring SD62 in line with Greater Victoria’s two other school districts.
April 9: The Island Corridor Foundation trumpets a tentative deal with Southern Railway and Via Rail to bring passenger rail service back to the south Island. While the City of Langford and Town of View Royal are optimistic their communities will eventually be included as part of the new service, no such guarantees are made by the ICF, which intends to start with a Nanaimo to Victoria run, the timing of which doesn’t work for West Shore commuters.
April 11: Customers seeking gate-crasher sales, free food and a store full of fresh, new stock pack into the new Capital Iron in Langford, as the family-owned business officially opens its third location in Greater Victoria in a former furniture store. The business plaza is further boosted in the summer, first with the opening of Cascadia Liquor Store, then with the unveiling of the newest Quality Foods grocery store.
• Following Esquimalt council’s rejection of the rezoning application required to use McLoughlin Point as a site for the primary sewage treatment plant for the Capital Region, B.C. Environment Minister Mary Polak announces she will not mandate the site as a location for the plant. Her decision follows a written request from CRD chair Alistair Bryson and effectively spells the end of McLoughlin Point as a potential location while throwing the project into disarray.
• Following a soft opening of its pedestrian portion, the long-awaited Craigflower Bridge opens to traffic. The $16-million project began in April 2013 and was scheduled for completion last December, but was delayed by a steel shortage.
Making the news in May:
May 7: B.C. Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux announces that the Vancouver Island youth custody facility in View Royal will be closed. The facility is underused, she says, with an average of 15 secure custody inmates. With no youth corrections facility on the Island, sentenced young offenders from the South Island would go to facilities in Burnaby. Those from the North Island may be sent to Prince George. Dean Purdy, chair of the corrections and sheriffs services component of the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, estimates as many as half of the 54 regular employees and 11 auxiliaries working at the youth facility live on the West Shore.
May 23: Letters are sent home with all West Shore students informing parents that schools will be closed Monday, May 26 due to escalating teachers job action. The increased action follows the BCTF’s rejection of the province’s offer of a $1,200 signing bonus for reaching an agreement by the end of the school year. Union president Jim Iker says the bonus doesn’t make up for the government’s wage offer of 6.5 per cent over six years. Education Minister Peter Fassbender says the bonus, and reducing the contract term from 10 years to six, were significant efforts to move toward a settlement. The BCTF maintains its wage proposal is 13.25 per cent over four years, including cost-of-living increases based on each year’s inflation rate.
• A quiet holiday morning on Monday is broken for some residents of a Colwood seniors apartment building, who are evacuated after police find a pipe bomb in a suite. A 59-year-old Colwood man is arrested at the scene and appears in Western Community Provincial Court Tuesday morning to face a charge of possession of an explosive device. There are no injuries as a result of the incident.
Making the news in June:
June 11: Belmont students gather over 500 names on a petition calling for a ban on candy and fruit-flavoured tobacco products in B.C. The initiative ties in with World No Tobacco Day, and is held in conjunction with a similar campaign undertaken by the B.C. and Yukon Division of the Canadian Cancer Society, which is lobbying the province to have the products removed from store shelves.
June 20: Metchosin council narrowly rejects moving forward a proposal to amend a bylaw that would allow a medical marijuana facility on industrial land. Coun. Bob Gramigna says the decision has nothing to do with being for or against the drug, but rather that a facility would not fit with Metchosin’s rural character, and adds that public commentary has been consistent and overwhelming against allowing such a facility at any of the three industrial-zoned lands in the community.
June 27: Mayor Carol Hamilton says Colwood is in a good position to pave its own way to sewage treatment after visiting a new tertiary treatment plant in Sechelt. Colwood’s city engineer Michael Baxter says a potential tertiary treatment centre could come in well under the $20-million mark after available grants, and be more environmentally sound than the CRD option. The potential site, underneath the Juan de Fuca park and ride, nets 79 per cent approval from residents, and could provide a substantial income for the city from water and heat sales to nearby businesses.
Making the news in July:
July 9: Quality Foods opens its newest store in Langford, marking the company’s first foray into a highly competitive grocery market in Greater Victoria. The new location makes an even dozen for the independent grocer. Langford Mayor Stew Young says he’s excited for the economic opportunities the new Quality Foods will bring to the community, with 75 to 100 jobs to be filled initially, as well as the friendly competition it will bring.
July 23: After a decades-long effort from three fire chiefs, the new public safety building in View Royal is nearly finished, 10 months after the first shovels hit the ground. Fire Chief Paul Hurst hopes to see the grand opening by early October. The 20,000-square-foot facility will house the fire department, building inspections, bylaw enforcement and other emergency services, and replaces the aging 9,800-square-foot building a little less than a kilometre south on Old Island Highway.
Making the news in August:
Aug. 1: Picket lines in front of Sooke School District schools are preventing the Canadian Union of Public Employees workers, who normally clean, maintain and complete capital projects at the public schools in summer, from coming to work. Teachers are volunteering in shifts, picketing as early as 5:30 a.m., to apply pressure to the government for a contract teachers can say yes to, says Sooke Teachers Association vice-president Paul Waterlander. Assistant district superintendent Dave Betts says larger maintenance projects, such as resurfacing gym floors and moving portables, may not happen, and hopes the labour dispute that began in June doesn’t bleed over into the new school year.
Aug. 6: Two Greater Victoria youths are arrested in connection to a pair of suspicious brush fires near Fort Rodd Hill, thanks to alert witnesses photographing two individuals hurriedly leaving the site of a fire along Ocean Boulevard just after noon July 31. The two blazes, more than a kilometre apart, did not cause any injuries or damage to property, but could have been much worse if the public hadn’t alerted the fire department so quickly, says Colwood assistant fire chief John Cassidy.
Aug. 8: The View Royal Casino is applying to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for the third time to allow alcohol consumption on the gambling floor. The casino is currently the only one on Vancouver Island that doesn’t allow players to take drinks out of the restaurant. If the application is approved, View Royal’s licensed capacity of 132 would increase to 1,147 to include the casino floor and the Penny Lane Bistro and Bar.
Aug. 29: Langford deputy fire chief Kerry Zado retires after 25 years of dedicated service and tireless fundraising efforts. Known as the man who always went the extra mile, Zado leaves big shoes to fill, says fire inspector Chris Aubrey, who will be stepping into the role. “He’d always say, it’s not just about fighting fires. It’s about doing whatever the community needs us to do.” For Zado, that included dressing up as Santa for the department’s annual Santa run, and being personally responsible for influencing $900,000 in donations for Muscular Dystrophy Canada over his career. The Langford crew is hosting a party at the Royal Canadian Legion in Zado’s honour. “It’s time for someone to make a fuss over him,” says Aubrey.
Making the news in September:
Sept. 5: Langford agrees to go to the electorate with a ballot question asking voters a non-binding question on amalgamation at the upcoming Nov. 15 municipal elections. Originally mayor and council announced they would only put a question on the ballot if 75 per cent of the 13 municipalities would add it on their ballots as well, but in the end council added it anyways.
Sept. 12: Longtime View Royal Mayor Graham Hill announces he will not be seeking re-election in the upcoming municipal elections in November. The 79-year-old won the mayor’s chair in 2002, filling former mayor Bill Camden’s vacant seat without any previous council experience.
Sept. 17: Jeneece place at the Victoria General Hospital received a royal visit from the Countess of Wessex, Sophie Rhys-Jones, wife of the Royal Family’s Prince Edward. The Countess and Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon visited the 10-bedroom home with Jeneece Edroff, known for helping raise more than a million dollars through penny drives to help B.C children. The Countess even shared a game of foosball with Abigail McCorquodale, a nine-year-old from Port Hardy who was born without a piece of her esophagus.
• A Mt. Blinkhorn blaze is among the largest ever on the West Shore. Originally estimated at approximately three hectares, the fire was eventually revealed to be closer to 6.5 hectares. An evacuation alert was issued for several residential areas and crews stayed overnight, containing the fire after approximately 2,000 hours of volunteer work and four days. Metchosin fire chief Stephanie Dunlop said the cause was likely human in origin, a cigarette or campfire.
Sept. 19: Teachers are expected to ratify a deal ending a bitter dispute to end a strike that started in June. An acrimonious three months ended with school starting several weeks late and starting with a half day on Sept. 22.
Making the news in October:
Oct. 3: The Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock team continues on the final leg of their two-week, 1,100-kilometre journey down Vancouver Island, arriving in Langford today and culminating with a gala dinner at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort. West Shore RCMP officer Steve Wright comes home after suffering a shoulder injury in a crash that forced him from continuing the ride. The fundraiser eventually raised more than $1 million to send children to Camp Goodtimes and raise money to battle pediatric cancer.
Oct. 15: The long-stalled development on Colwood Corners got a shot in the arm when the Supreme Court of B.C. approved an agreement that will see North American developer Onni Group begin to take control of the development. There are still some hurdles to overcome, but the submitted bid of $17.5 million is expected to be paid out to secured creditors, although the total of unsecured debt amounts to nearly $135 million in claims.
Oct. 17: As West Shore residents prepare for another civic election, Jane Mendum announces she would be leaving after 15 years on council, the last six as mayor. Several other municipalities see major changes with three councillors stepping down in Colwood, and Mayor Graham Hill stepping down in View Royal. Fringe candidate David Shebib on the other hand announces he is running for mayor in all 13 municipalities in the CRD.
Making the news in November
Nov. 14: The driver of a sports car involved in a head-on crash bolted from the scene and abandoned a 15-year-old girl in the BMW, found later to have stolen vehicle plates. The grey BMW, travelling east on Sooke Road near Glen Lake Road crossed the centre line during the early morning commute and collided with a west-bound Econoline van. Traffic on Sooke Rd. was rerouted for more than an hour after the crash. The case is still open and active.
Nov. 19: City of Langford staff are left scratching their heads following a late-night accident where a 50-plus foot semi-trailer ran aground on the fountain on Goldstream Ave. The driver, not from town, miscalculated her ability to do a complete cycle of the roundabout after getting lost in the area and badly damaged the fountain’s mechanical operations causing thousands of dollars in damage.
• New mayors are crowned in both the Highlands and View Royal with musician Ken Williams and David Screech taking the vacant seats in their respective municipalities. John Ranns in Metchosin, Stew Young in Langford and Carol Hamilton in Colwood all retained their seats. Langford’s crew remained unchanged with all councillors also retaining their seats.
Nov. 26: Research by Royal Roads University students indicate changes need to be made to continue the local farming culture in Metchosin. The high price of land, coupled with the relatively low profits from farming and an up-and-coming generation without the means to take over the farmland when the current generation retires, means questions abound. The study says the area’s residents may have difficulty maintaining the current rural lifestyle they enjoy so much without the infusion of new blood ready and able to take over.
• A 53-year-old man is due in Western Communities Provincial Court charged with attempted murder after an early morning incident in View Royal. The victim, a 34-year-old man, was found injured at a gas station but was able to give police the location where the incident occurred. The West Shore RCMP were able to arrest the suspect shortly afterward.
Nov. 28: Five West Shore residents travelled to Port au Prince, Haiti determined to make a difference at the Divine Hands Orphanage. Bruce Brown, Ross Lazaruk, Langford fire chief Bob Beckett, Dan Reynolds and Rick Fisher made their way to the embattled country to kick off a years-long process of helping children, most of whom live in abject poverty.
Making the news in December
Dec. 3: At an informal ceremony at the Prince Edward Branch #91 Royal Canadian Legion, Lou Lattanzi was presented with France’s highest recognition: the Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour. The 90-year-old, who lived in Langford for nearly 50 years, was recognized for his service and bravery on D-Day.
Dec. 5: Langford takes a $2.4-million plunge for a recreation facility on Bear Mountain. The City purchased the Mountainside Athletic Club, dubbing the 9,600-square-foot facility the North Langford Adventure Centre. The land and building were purchased out of bankruptcy proceedings undertaken against the owner in Calgary.
Dec. 17: View Royal mayor David Screech and Coun. Ron Mattson go on record saying the idea of a sewage plant at Thetis Cove is a bad idea. Mattson said the former Plywood mill land is earmarked for residential development and a sewage plant there could cost the city hundreds of thousands of future property taxes per year. An 8-acre parcel of Provincial Capital Commission (PCC) land near the former youth detention centre however, is something mayor and council would consider.
Dec. 19: Langford mayor and council are disappointed following a meeting with Island Corridor Foundation chief executive officer Graham Bruce who outlined a proposal to get rail back on track on the Island with service from Nanaimo to Victoria. Coun. Lanny Seaton was visibly upset, questioning why commuter rail between Langford and Downtown Victoria was taken off the rail schedule, considering the city invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in studies and even included rail in their official community plans.