Mounties march in honour of fallen RCMP Officer

Walking through the past 12 months: 2016 in review January to April

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



January

6 – Coast Collective Gallery officially moves into its new space at Westridge Landing on Wale Road in Colwood, after spending a number of years in the historic Pendray House off Esquimalt Lagoon. The new digs, while not the character venue artists and visitors grew accustomed to, actually offers more exhibition space.

15 – After months of public consultation and numerous complaints about density, Colwood council approves a pair of developments, an apartment complex on Metchosin Road and nine single-family dwellings on nearby Painter Road. Neighbours have voiced concerns over safety with so many driveways added to a school walking route and street parking obscuring vision. But Coun. Gordie Logan tells the Gazette the projects will bring the right mix of amenities and affordable rental housing badly needed in the area.

20 – An online real estate marketing brochure from CBRE Victoria describes the potential commercial and residential opportunities available at what is being billed as Belmont Market, on the now-cleared former site of Belmont secondary. The proposed 200,000-square-foot development is anchored by a new Thrifty Foods store, which makes sense given the land is owned by Sobey’s, the grocery chain’s parent company.

22 – Langford councillors go ballistic at a meeting upon hearing the per household cost estimates for the proposed regional sewage treatment plant, with Mayor Stew Young comparing the situation to Victoria’s ballooning blue bridge replacement project cost. The excitement leads Les Bjola, who chairs the sub-committee looking at the City’s options for treatment and is presenting his findings, to try and calm the group down by saying the estimates, which would add in the neighbourhood of $500 of taxes per home, are rounded up. He also points out that private solutions, independent of the CRD, are being investigated.

27 – The City of Langford announces plans to realign the troublesome intersection of Leigh Road and Goldstream Avenue, as well as a plan to install traffic lights there. The moves are in response to increased traffic along the two corridors.

February

3 – Colwood council looks at changing the rules around retaining walls to allow the city to limit the size of subsequent structures, in the wake of complaints about massive rock walls along Latoria Road and elsewhere nearby.

A public open house is planned for later in the month to allow councillors to gain input on the matter.

3 – A Sooke School District teacher is ordered to take cultural sensitivity classes after allegedly making racist remarks aimed at a Muslim student in a classroom at Edward Milne secondary.

A consent resolution agreement signed by Matthew Shaun Pell stated that he repeatedly referred to the student as “Taliban” and made such comments as, “don’t make her angry otherwise she’ll bomb you.”

10 – The City of Langford and Island Corridor Foundation lock horns after the ICF charges the City $50,000 for the right to construct a bike lane on a right of way controlled by the ICF. Mayor Stew Young said the fee is too high given that no train is currently or even close to running on the tracks.

Foundation CEO Graham Bruce said the fee is in response to Langford not granting the ICF a permissive tax exemption, while Young demands that the ICF’s books be opened for inspection. The City later votes to pay the fee to get the trail connector completed, but continues to ask for more transparency from the ICF.

12 – The first retailers open for business at Eagle Creek Village in View Royal, the largest commercial and residential development in the Town’s history.

26 – The Choices Transitional Home opens at the former youth detention centre in View Royal, with permission granted to operate for six months as a temporary housing facility for homeless people, some of whom were residing at the tent city on the lawn behind the Victoria law courts.

March

2 – McLoughlin, Macaulay and Clover Points are put back on the table for a regional sewage treatment plant, leading Langford Coun. Denise Blackwell, a member of the CRD’s liquid waste management committee, to request more technical and cost information from CRD staff on the West Shore portion of the solution. Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton, who co-chairs the committee, also voices concern over the sharing of the project’s costs for her City’s residents, roughly 70 per cent of whom are on septic systems.

9 – The RCMP drastically reduces the role of auxiliary constables in an attempt to better protect them. The move will see the West Shore detachment lose the ability to have auxiliaries accompany regular officers on ride-alongs, as well do limited traffic control and bike patrol work. View Royal Mayor David Screech is marshalling support to request the federal police service to overturn the decision based on the value of auxiliaries in West Shore communities.

11 – Colwood council considers a proposed land-use bylaw that would prevent the sale of non-medicinal marijuana until at least such time as it it made legal by the federal government. Coun. Gordie Logan says council didn’t want to put City staff and the police in a difficult position by allowing such storefront pot sellers.

23 – The City of Langford elects not to join a multi-faceted regional economic development group, citing a lack of interest from local business, high fees and no apparent benefit. Dan Dagg, interim chair of the South Island Prosperity Project, says the group would love to have Langford on board, but says it would proceed regardless, with 10 of 13 CRD municipalities supporting it.

30 – Victoria Grizzlies head coach Craig Didmon, a teaching employee with the Sooke School District, is suspended from teaching for two weeks after admitting to various actions of professional misconduct between 2012 and 2014.

He admits to drinking with and securing alcohol for underage Grizzlies players when he was an assistant coach; to being absent from instructional and prep times without District knowledge while doing Grizzlies work, and making unauthorized representations on behalf of the District in discussions about a partnership between the Grizzlies, the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy and one of two SD62 schools for which he coached at  the hockey academy.

April

6 – Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton says the apportioned cost to her City’s residents for the regional sewage treatment project is still unfair given the relatively few who are currently hooked up to the sewer system. The new $274 a year estimated charge by the year 2030 is a rough figure, she adds, but it is far lower than the initial estimate of $741 per household for a plan that called for a main regional plant at Rock Bay and a tertiary plant in Colwood.

8 – The West Shore and Greater Victoria community mourns the death of West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett, a well-liked 32-year-old married mother of two, in a horrific car crash. Details on the early morning crash at the corner of Goldstream Avenue and Peatt Road, including whether the driver of the truck that t-boned Beckett’s cruiser was fleeing police, are foggy. Saanich police conduct the investigation into the crash, while B.C.’s Internal Investigations Office later looks into the possible role of police in Beckett’s death. Kenneth Jacob Fenton is eventually charged in September with five counts, including impaired driving causing death.

13 – An online fundraiser for late RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett’s family may well raise 20 times more than its initial goal of $5,000. At the time of writing, the fundraiser undertaken by Kayla Reid and five friends, car club members who didn’t know Beckett personally, had brought in more than $82,000. In the first 48 hours close to $70,000 was raised. Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil for Beckett and her family along Goldstream Avenue attracts more than 1,000 people.

15 – Thousands of RCMP, other police officers and emergency responders march along Island Highway and down to The Q Centre for the ceremonial funeral for Const. Sarah Beckett. The arena was chosen for the service to accommodate the huge numbers. Attendees come from across the country to pay their respects to the young officer, whose death produces an unparalleled show of solidarity on the West Shore.

20 – Fans pack Westhills Stadium in Langford for the second annual World Rugby Canada Women’s Sevens tournament. The host team finishes what they consider a disappointing fifth, but go on to take second in the series to earn a spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

29 – The Province of B.C. chooses a partial cloverleaf design for the new McKenzie interchange at the Trans-Canada Highway. The project aims to reduce congestion to and from the West Shore by removing traffic lights from the mix and streamlining the flow of vehicles.

-Compiled by Don Descoteau

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