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2012: The year in review

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JANUARY

A 24-year-old Abbotsford woman battled for her life after ingesting ecstasy with three friends on New Year’s Eve.

Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said the woman was at a home in the 33700 block of George Ferguson Way when she became unconscious and unresponsive.

This was the second ecstasy overdose in Abbotsford in less than two weeks. Cheryl McCormack, 17, died Dec. 22 after having taken ecstasy with three other friends at a sleep-over on Dec. 19.

 

A strong gas-like smell reported in the Auguston area of Abbotsford was attributed to an oil spill at the Kinder Morgan tank farm facility on Sumas Mountain.

Oil was discovered in a tank containment area. The spill was contained on the property. Workers placed foam on the oil and vacuumed it up. Local residents reported experiencing headaches and nausea due to the strong smell, and students at nearby Auguston elementary were kept inside for part of the day.

 

FEBRUARY

Jarrod Bacon and co-accused Wayne Scott were found guilty of conspiracy to traffic cocaine.

Bacon, the middle of a trio of Abbotsford brothers suspected of carrying out criminal activity in the Lower Mainland as part of the Red Scorpions gang, has a child with Scott’s daughter and was initially approached by a police agent while visiting his son at Scott’s house.

Justice Allen Cullen made his decision in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver after a four-month trial that heard evidence from a 2009 undercover operation.

The Combined Special Forces Enforcement Unit obtained recorded evidence against the pair over months of sporadic meetings and phone calls among  Bacon, Scott and the agent regarding the drug deal.

 

Abbotsford was made home to a Lingerie Football League franchise.

The female squad, which plays contact football dressed in padding and underwear (bras, shorts and garters), would play their home games at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).

In response to the debate about whether lingerie football was an appropriate form of entertainment, Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman said he’s “not the morality police.”

 

MARCH

Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen crossed the floor of the provincial legislature – walking away from the governing Liberal caucus and announcing he would sit as the only member of the B.C. Conservative party.

“I don’t have confidence in the leader of the party,” van Dongen told The News in a telephone interview, minutes after his announcement.

Van Dongen was the subject of sharp words from members of the party he left, including the past president of the Abbotsford South riding association.

Ron Gladiuk said van Dongen’s announcement and criticism of Premier Christy Clark and the party were a betrayal.

 

APRIL

More slot machines were coming to Abbotsford.

After a long debate, a divided council voted to permit Playtime Gaming, which runs Chances Community Gaming Centre on Peardonville Road, to more than double its current allotment of slots.

The number was  raised from 125 machines to a maximum of 275.

Last year, the city received more than $900,000 from slot machine revenues. It is expected to pass the $1 million mark next year.

 

Teachers, students, parents and administrators tried to determine how certain activities such as grad would be affected following the provincial teachers’ vote to pull participation in all extracurricular activities.

The BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) announced that of the teachers who voted, 73 per cent were in favour of a “resistance strategy” to oppose Bill 22, which prohibited them from striking and imposed a six-month cooling-off period.

 

MAY

A B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced Jarrod Bacon of Abbotsford to 12 years in prison for conspiracy to traffic cocaine, saying he was “committed to a criminal lifestyle” and had shown no remorse for his actions.

Taking into account double credit for the two years and five months Bacon had already served, his remaining jail time amounted to seven years and two months.

 

Kinder Morgan, the company that owns the Trans Mountain pipeline that carries oil from Alberta to the B.C. coast and Washington state through Abbotsford, announced plans to twin the line, expanding capacity from 300,000 barrels per day to 850,000.

Local environmentalists said allowing that to happen was essentially being complicit in creating more greenhouse gasses and global warming.

Opponents also claimed twinning carried the threat of future oil spills like those that have taken place in Abbotsford, with the potential for greater environmental disasters.

Kinder Morgan maintained the pipeline is the safest way to transport the fossil fuels that are used by virtually everyone in the Lower Mainland on a daily basis. Pending approval, the company would begin construction in 2016, and have its new line operational by 2017.

 

Brent Parent was sentenced to spend the next five and a half years behind bars and would not be allowed to drive for a further 12 years for the hit-and-run death of 21-year-old Silas O’Brien.

In front of a full courtroom in New Westminster Supreme Court, Judge Terence Schultes sentenced Parent, 43, to four years and six months for criminal negligence causing death, nine months for dangerous driving and three months for failing to stay at the scene of an accident.

 

A record crowd of 4,254 runners hit the streets of Abbotsford for the fifth annual Run for Water. The run raised $260,000 to create access to clean drinking water for people in southern Ethiopia via the HOPE International Development Agency.

 

JUNE

It was back to the old stomping grounds for Abbotsford Senior Secondary alumni  for the “Bye-Bye Abby Day” celebration, held in honour of the school’s 51-year history before it was demolished.

Built in 1955, Abby Senior stands as Abbotsford’s oldest school and has seen more than 17,000 graduates pass through its doors.

While the old school had a major impact on its students and staff, the hope was to bring that same sense of camaraderie into the new building. Former principal turned city councillor Bill MacGregor described the faculty bond like a “band of brothers,” and said the memories “still bring tears to my eyes.”

 

Residents of Glen Valley were allowed to return to their homes as Fraser River water levels stabilized.

City officials rescinded the flood evacuation order for all but two residents in the area.

The evacuation alert remained.

Engineering staff continued to assess the safety of River Road while city engineering crews monitored the dikes every hour.

 

JULY

A new report suggested the city does not need a new water source by 2016, as voters were told during the referendum on the proposed Stave Lake P3 water system that was part of the November 2011 municipal election. The public/private partnership plan was soundly defeated.

The new staff report pegged the deadline at 2020. City consumption levels had fallen to 2001 levels, in accordance with conservation messages and the price of water having more than doubled in recent years.

 

Upwards of 2,300 young athletes from across the province descended on the Fraser Valley, as the BC Summer Games opened.

Surrey hosted the bulk of the multi-sport festival, but Abbotsford’s Albert Dyck Park was the venue for towed watersports (water-ski, wakeboard and barefoot). Fifty-three athletes from Abbotsford qualified to participate in the Games, and many more local coaches, officials and volunteers were involved.

 

AUGUST

An estimated crowd of 130,000 people attended the 50th annual Abbotsford International Airshow over the three-day event, Aug. 10-13.

That was up by about 30 per cent from the average attendance (80,000 to 100,000) over the past few years.

Mary Lee, media director for the show, said final numbers had yet to be calculated, but all indicators suggested 2012 was a “stellar” show.

 

Sophie Schmidt and the Canadian women’s soccer team captured the attention of the nation en route to a bronze medal at the London Olympics in August.

Team Canada rebounded from a controversial 4-3 loss to the United States in the semifinals to edge France 1-0 in the third-place game, and Schmidt had a hand in Diana Matheson’s game-winning goal.

 

SEPTEMBER

The trial began in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack for Jesse Blue West, 61, charged with the first-degree murder of Chelsey Acorn, 14.

Acorn went missing from an Abbotsford foster home in June 2005, and her remains were found in a shallow grave by hikers near the Carolin Mines exit off the Coquihalla Highway outside of Hope on April 8, 2006.

West and his son Dustin Moir, now 27, were charged with her murder the following year.

Both went on trial in November 2009, but West’s proceedings were severed from Moir’s two months later. Moir was convicted in February 2010 and was sentenced to a life sentence with no parole eligibility for 15 years. West’s trial has concluded, and the judge’s verdict is expected in January.

 

Citing a lack of confidence in party leader John Cummins, Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen stepped down from the Conservative party and will now sit as an independent in the legislature.

 

OCTOBER

Judge Jill Rounthwaite sentenced Thor Shay, 59, to a $1,500 fine and a one-year driving ban for a charge of driving without due care and attention. Flagger Don Cain was killed after being struck by a car in Mission in July 2010.

The judge acknowledged to family members in attendance that the sentence was “laughable in comparison to the death of your son and brother.

 

Themy Alexandre Vallee-Apostolakis was shot and killed during a robbery in Honduras.

News agencies in Honduras reported that Vallee was leaving a bar called “La Cueva” on the island of Roatan off the Honduran coast.

Two men in a truck reportedly approached Vallee and demanded his iPhone and cash.

When he resisted, he was shot in the head.

 

NOVEMBER

The Abbotsford Heat will cost taxpayers $1.76 million for the 2011/12 season.

The city will pay the American Hockey League club that amount to cover its financial shortfall in the third year of a 10-year supply fee agreement, which guarantees the Heat annual break-even revenue of $5.7 million to play out of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (AESC).

Over the last three seasons, the city has paid the Heat a total of $3.58 million. The deficit was $450,000 in 2009/10, and $1.37 million in 2010/11.

 

DECEMBER

A proposed multi-million-dollar partnership with the YMCA has been given approval in principle by Abbotsford council.

The decision was made before more than 150 spectators who attended a special executive meeting at the Clearbrook Library.

The proposal would see the city spend a maximum of $17.5 million over two years (2015/16) to pay for half the construction of a new YMCA facility located on the site of the old MSA Hospital on McCallum Road.

 

Single dad Derek Hoare spent 18 months fighting the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to have his autistic daughter returned to his home, and the agency signed an agreement to do so – just three days before the trial on the matter was to begin. Hoare began making plans to bring his little girl, Ayn Van Dyk, almost 11, back with him and her two brothers. Hoare said the ministry agreed to pay for intensive in-home support for Ayn and one of her siblings, who also has autism.

 

Bill and Annie Connor, both in their 80s, received an early Christmas present on Dec. 21, when volunteers – including many police officers and firefighters – revealed their newly renovated home.

The couple’s residence on Downes Road was gutted by fire on Nov. 11. A groundswell of community support resulted in everything needed  – including building supplies, furniture and labour – being donated for the rebuild.

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