Sari Ringma of Sooke

Sari Ringma of Sooke

Walking through the past 12 months: 2016 in review May to August

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


4 – The B.C. Lottery Corporation furthers its hunt for a potential second casino location in Greater Victoria, much to the dismay of View Royal Mayor David Screech. The Town creates its own website, highlighting reasons council opposes a second location and in hopes of drumming up more public interest on the topic. Screech’s main fear is that a second location would significantly reduce municipal revenues from the View Royal casino.

4, 6 and 11 – Camellia Lawson has been in and out of foster homes, adopted, given up by her adopted family, taken in by school friends and even checked into a mental hospital. Some days she didn’t know where she’d be the next day but through it all, she kept her living situation hidden. Her story and those of other West Shore youths are featured in Arnold Lim’s three-part Youth in Crisis series, which focuses on how youth homelessness continues to be a challenge on the West Shore and across Greater Victoria.

11 – Casey Parsons beats the Metchosin Golf Club’s 18-hole course record not once, but twice in one week. On May 1, he lowered the record to 61, eclipsing the 62 shot by veteran tour professional Jim Rutledge some years back. Less than a week later, Parsons was back on the course and shoots a 9-under 60 to lower his own short-lived record by a stroke.

18 – After a wildfire tears through Fort McMurray and surrounding areas, West Shore residents do what they can to help out those evacuated from the impacted areas. With its doors barely open, the newest Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop location at Westshore Town Centre hires stylists from the Alberta city so they can continue working. Franchise operators, Ron and Tracy Frolek, even rent a home in Saanich for the displaced stylists and with donations pouring in from the public, are able to stock the fridge and provide them with gift cards for personal items to get them through.

20 – A cost-effective stairway solution is finally found for the Witty’s Lagoon ramp. The District of Metchosin steps up with an alternative when the Capital Regional District estimated replacement of the old wooden stairway and stabilization of the slope would cost as much as $1.3 million. A new aluminum staircase comes with a price tag of approximately $100,000. Those funds are used to remove the existing structure, install the new stairs and fencing and also include a contingency fund. From here on out, Metchosin takes over the care of the stairs from the CRD.


1 – Langford City staff are excited to see what’s in store for the mixed-use development slated for the old Belmont secondary property. Thrifty Foods’ parent company and property owner, Sobeys Inc., has applied for a development permit from the City and once the next step – a building permit – is granted, construction can begin.

The proposal for the 22-acre site includes a roughly 250,000-square foot shopping centre that features a nearly 53,000-sq.-ft. Thrifty Foods store.

The property will also be accessible from entrances on Jacklin Road and Jenkins Avenue. Plans also call for a new signalized intersection to be installed roughly where the Westshore Town Centre access is between Jacklin Road and Brittany Drive.

3 – Choices Transitional Home in View Royal looks at adding 30 residents and asks to extend the deadline for operation to March 31, 2017.

Operated by Our Place Society, the former youth custody centre now provides living space for some of the region’s homeless. While some neighbouring residents have voiced concerns about the centre, Mayor David Screech notes there has been a minimal number of calls and no major incidents so far. In attempts to address some of those concerns, the centre hosts a barbecue, art show and silent auction mid-month for the community.

8 – A hiker who, by all accounts, should not have been able to walk into Langford Fire Rescue, stops by to thank firefighters involved in his rescue from Mt. Finlayson. Victoria resident Brad Atchison was on the popular mountain in May when his heart stopped and was discovered by passing hikers who called for help. Only 30 per cent survive the type of heart attack Atchison had even if they get to a hospital, he was told. During the rescue process, he was shocked 22 times, yet managed to survive against all odds.

10 – Linda Grantham, a long-time crossing guard in the Sooke School District, fears “her” children are in danger when she doesn’t have her red stop sign in hand near Ruth King elementary at the Goldstream Avenue and Jacklin Road intersection. Grantham witnesses roughly half a dozen vehicles run red lights while being interviewed by the Gazette.

The stress starts to get to her and she retires at the end of the school year. Before she leaves she pleads with motorists to slow down in school zones, yield to pedestrians and abide by the rules of the road.

22 – Syrian refugees that were temporarily housed on the West Shore are moving into permanent housing across Vancouver Island. But more challenges continue for the roughly 150 people who arrived here in February and March. This group, who continue to fear for family members in Syria and across the globe, must adjust to living in a new culture and a new country. To help, West Shore service providers step up to offer assistance, local businesses hire Syrians and school districts work hard to ensure a smooth transition for children in the families.


1 – Work is underway implementing a new HRO (pronounced hero) technology upgrade for the Capital Regional Emergency Service Telecommunications. The new system will provide enhanced reliability and coverage, according to Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, who also chairs the CREST board. “Much like cell phones, the equipment ages very quickly,” he explains, adding the new system will also provide better in-building coverage and help the system expand into areas that had spotty coverage due to topography issues. The switchover is expected to be complete in early 2017.

6 – A new vision is set to resurrect the rust forming at the derelict site of the former Capital City Centre project at Colwood Corners. New owner, Vancouver-based Onni Group, submits a development application for the first phase of a new project for the site at the corner of Sooke Road and Goldstream Avenue. The new proposal calls for a mix of commercial and residential space, including 248 rental units on

about 13,770 square metres. Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton is excited to see some

action on the site.

“It will be a real asset for our community,” she says, anticipating it will take 18 months to two years to complete phase one.

6-8 – A new software system is causing headaches for teachers and school counsellors across the province and one West Shore educator warns the most vulnerable students could be falling through the cracks.

Teachers are frustrated with their mandated student information software system, which often crashes or is offline during such key moments as report card times. Teachers aren’t alone in the struggle, as administrators, counsellors and other staff members also use the system for  purposes such as recording student’s individual learning plans.

20 – Nolan Thoroughgood, 15, putts his way to the top of the field at the 114th B.C. Amateur Golf Championship at Pheasant Glen Golf Resort in Qualicum Beach. Making his first appearance in the tournament, the Royal Colwood Golf Club member turns heads and keeps his composure to shoot a smooth, even-par final round to finish at 7-under-par 281. He winds up two strokes ahead of fellow teen A.J. Ewart of Coquitlam and three strokes ahead of 20-year-old Zach Anderson of Nanaimo.

29 – West Shore RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett will not be forgotten. The local detachment makes sure of that as they unveil a memorial plaque in her honour at a tear-soaked ceremony. Beckett, who died in the line of duty on April 5, is fondly remembered by her colleagues, co-workers and friends. Other members of the West Shore community are present to share their support and pay their respects.


17 – New funding for school districts across the province means the Sooke School District will be re-evaluating its bus system and waiving fees for the majority of its ridership. SD62 has until the end of September to submit a plan on how the funding will be used to boost their transportation services by adding new routes, improving disability access and bus stops or improving access to public transit.

17-19 – A group of West Shore individuals add their voice to the sewage treatment debate and put their money where their mouths are. Led by prominent businessman Bill Beadle, the group funds its own study and peer review for a Colwood-based sewage plant. It’s a win-win for the region, says Beadle, as he urges the CRD to consider more cost-efficient options for the region’s treatment project. It’s a proposal that’s supported by the City of Colwood later in the month.

19 – The Saunders family passes the keys to their Colwood-based Subaru dealership to the Jim Pattison Auto Group. The family, led by Bob and Norma, has successfully run the dealership on Island Highway for 36 years and the decision to sell does not come lightly. Son Dave Saunders notes the process started two years ago and the family had a strict list of criteria that had to be met, which included the continuation of a number of the dealership’s charitable programs. The family plans to focus their efforts on giving back to the community through the Saunders Family Foundation.

19 – Work being done to prepare a former septic field for development is worrying Fleetwood Court residents who live high above the Langford property, separated by a large retaining wall some say is already unstable. Residents voice concerns over the clearing that’s been done and how close it’s coming to the wall that keeps their properties in place. The developer, Gerry Mounce, tries to put residents’ fears at ease, stating his company, GM Landco Management has engaged a geotechnical engineer for the project as well as a regular engineering firm for the project.

-Compiled by Katherine Engqvist