News

2013 started with a roll of the dice

105 front pages of the Peace Arch News this past year. -
105 front pages of the Peace Arch News this past year.
— image credit:

Peace Arch News delivered news to your door 105 times in 2013 (and in real time at www.peacearchnews.com). Here are some of the stories we’ve followed:

January

City of White Rock’s water utility, Epcor, informs customers of its plans to increase chlorination of the city’s water supply, upgrade critical infrastructure and boost storage and pumping capacity, at an estimated cost of up to $12 million.

• • •

Surrey resident Natasha Warren is sentenced to three years in prison for the 2011 crash that killed Kassandra Kaulius, after earlier pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing death, impaired driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident.

• • •

Forty-year-old Cloverdale resident Cole Adam Manning is found dead in a Langley house; a 24-year-old man, who police believe was the victim’s friend, is arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

• • •

Hundreds of protesters march at Peace Arch border crossing in support of the Idle No More movement, which opposes the omnibus federal bill C-45, introduced by the Harper government in 2012.

• • •

Two overnight public-hearing sessions for a proposed casino draw hundreds.After two marathon council sessions that saw hundreds of public speakers, City of Surrey councillors vote 5-4 against a proposed $100-million casino/entertainment complex in South Surrey.

• • •

On the heels of Surrey’s decision not to proceed with the casino project, B.C.’s gaming minister, Rich Coleman, tells media he is disappointed with the outcome. The following week, two Surrey councillors reveal that Coleman made personal calls to them prior to their vote, advising them that if the project didn’t pass, Surrey would not receive another application from the BC Lottery Corporation.

• • •

Due to the severity of the flu season, Fraser Health declares a hazard, invoking a rule that anyone visiting a residential care or assisted-living facility who hasn’t had a flu shot must wear a mask.

• • •

A body is found near a ditch on Colebrook Road, the first of four to be found along the secluded stretch between South Surrey and South Delta, prompting the city to consider installing closed-circuit TV cameras and lighting along the road.

• • •

Acting on a tip, White Rock RCMP, the Explosive Disposal and Chemical/Biological/Radiological/Nuclear Response Unit, the Lower Mainland Integrated Forensic Identification Services, Emergency Response Team and White Rock firefighters execute a warrant in the 15100-block of Prospect Avenue, and seize chemicals. Hamish Sutherland is arrested and later charged with making or possessing explosives, possession of a firearm contrary to order and breach of probation. In July, he pleads not guilty to the charges and remains in custody. His trial is expected to get underway in February 2014.

February

Best Buy at Morgan Crossing is one of seven in the big-box chain to suddenly shut its doors, a move that comes as a surprise to staff and customers alike.

• • •

Confusion surrounds the status of BC Hydro’s smart-meter program and whether customers will be able to opt-out of the contentious program. MLA Gordon Hogg (Surrey-White Rock) stands by information he said he confirmed with Rich Coleman’s office stating homeowners would not have to have a smart meter installed, while Coleman denied the message, saying the information was “misinterpreted.”

• • •

Residents take a look at a proposal for the then-site of White Rock Mufflers. After decades as a waterfront landmark, the Ocean Beach Hotel on Marine Drive is bought, renovated and restyled as The Hemingway Waterfront Public House. Public input is sought for the future of the site, with plans to redevelop it into a two-building mixed residential-commercial project, but the proposal is later put on hold by the site owner and architects.

• • •

Longtime Surrey politician Sukh Dhaliwal, running for the BC Liberals in Surrey-Panorama, resigns from the race after it is revealed he is facing six charges under the Income Tax Act, related to unfilled returns for a company for which he is responsible.

• • •

Local activist and former BC Green Party candidate Don Pitcairn attracts a wave of attention – both positive and negative – with the creation of T-shirts mocking the City of Surrey’s logo and slogan. The city responds to the online sale of the shirts – which read ‘Surrey: The future dies here’ – with a cease-and-desist order.

• • •

Medical-marijuana activists picket outside MP Russ Hiebert’s constituency office in protest of the Conservative government’s new medicinal-pot regulations, which will prohibit the production and distribution of medical pot in homes, limiting it to commercial grow operations.

• • •

The developer of the contentious White Rock Mufflers site on Oxford Street makes a surprise concession at a public hearing, offering to remove two feet of extra height and two townhouse units in an effort to appease critics of the project. Weeks later, the project is given the go-ahead from White Rock council with a 4-3 vote, a decision that is met with backlash from irate council attendees.

• • •

Janice Shore, 45, succumbs to her injuries after being found brutally beaten in a Whalley parking lot in December. Her death prompts a Surrey city councillor to request a review into Shore’s circumstances and what support system had been available to her.

March

Nearly five years after the death of toddler Alexa Middelaer at a Ladner roadside, Carol Berner – convicted in July 2010 of impaired and dangerous driving relating to the incident – applies to the Supreme Court of Canada “for leave to appeal” the verdict, after the B.C. Court of Appeal rules to uphold her conviction. Berner’s appeal is dismissed by the Supreme Court weeks later.

• • •

The City of White Rock announces it is looking into buying its water utility from Epcor, who earlier in the year announced it would be undertaking $11-12 million in system upgrades.

• • •

An internal investigation is launched into the BC Liberal party after allegations that non-partisan government staff resources were redirected to “woo” ethnic voters.

• • •

Politicians cross party lines to voice their shared opposition to a proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal-transfer facility that would increase coal-train traffic along the BNSF railway through White Rock, South Surrey and Delta.

• • •

A mattress fire – that officials determine to be caused by electrical issues – causes significant smoke damage, closing Zellers at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre for more than three months.

April

A White Rock pilot suffers a broken leg after engaging the safety parachute of an ultralight plane and crash-landing into a South Surrey blueberry field.

• • •

RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, advises businesses to turn away gangs, after a targeted-shooting fatality near shops.

South Surrey’s Craig Widdifield, 28, is shot to death in the parking lot of Morgan Crossing in what police describe as a gang-related targeted murder.

• • •

A stretch of 16 Avenue east of King George Boulevard is closed as work gets underway for a new Highway 99 interchange, a project slated to cost $24 million and be completed by October 2014.

• • •

Race-car enthusiasts make a pitch to Metro Vancouver’s environment and parks committee to reopen the defunct race track at the south end of Campbell Valley Regional Park. Metro directors later vote against the proposal.

• • •

Runners from the Semiahmoo Peninsula are shaken, but not injured, after two explosions rocked the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others.

• • •

Approximately 8,000 marijuana-laced cookies are seized from a North Bluff Road home, after police are alerted to a possible home invasion at the residence, triggering a lock-down at nearby Earl Marriott Secondary. Three adults are arrested and face charges of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.

• • •

 A horrific crash at 32 Avenue and 176 Street kills five members of a family, after a driver goes through a red light.Five members of a Newton family are killed in a horrific crash at 176 Street and 32 Avenue, after their northbound Toyota Corolla is struck by a westbound Dodge Caravan. The driver of the van, a 46-year-old Langley man, is taken to hospital where he dies a week later after undergoing surgery for a non-malignant brain tumour, a condition that was discovered after he was hospitalized.

• • •

In light of intense public and political opposition to a proposed coal terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks, Port Metro Vancouver announces it will hold official consultations and open houses to respond to concerns raised over the plan.

May

In the wake of criticism from the business communities on both sides of the border, U.S. lawmakers scrap a proposal to impose a new fee on Canadians crossing into the States.

• • •

Despite opinion polls in the weeks prior pointing to an NDP victory, the BC Liberals win a majority government across the province, including a sweep of all three Semiahmoo Peninsula seats. Stephanie Cadieux (Surrey-Cloverdale), Gordon Hogg (Surrey-White Rock) and Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Panorama) celebrate their wins locally, while Premier Christy Clark fails to win her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey.

• • •

The Old Curio Shop on King George Boulevard is boarded up after owner Barrie Cohen passes away at the age of 72. The building later falls victim to looters and vandals, and is demolished by order of Cohen’s family members.

• • •

Despite an impassioned plea to White Rock council from area residents, four city trees on Victoria Avenue thought to be an eagle habitat are cut down.

• • •

The Surrey Board of Trade weighs in on the controversial new coal-export facility proposed by Fraser Surrey Docks, saying the $15-million project would be good for Surrey. The South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce, however, states its opposition to the new terminal, in particular the increase in coal-train traffic through White Rock and South Surrey that would result.

• • •

Longtime politician and business advocate Bill Reid, also known as ‘Mr. Surrey,’ dies at the age of 78 after battling cancer.

June

Fraser Health’s chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder, joins the ongoing Fraser Surrey Docks fray, noting his concern over potential health impacts from the proposed new coal-export terminal and calling for a comprehensive health-impact assessment.

• • •

White Rock council votes unanimously to take over its water utility, instructing staff to begin negotiations with Edmonton-based Epcor for its purchase.

• • •

Cloverdale’s Matt Stowe – a graduate of Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary – is named Top Chef Canada on the Food Network’s popular reality TV cooking show.

• • •

Lack of funding for a feasibility study is to blame for squashing the dream of a much-desired new Amtrak Cascades station in Blaine, Wash., according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.

• • •

Metro Vancouver’s board votes 21-4 in opposition of the proposed Fraser Surrey Docks coal-export terminal, in a decision that wields no real power over the outcome of the planned project.

• • •

After a month of uncertainty as to the future of his position on Surrey council, newly elected Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt (Surrey-Panorama) decides to maintain both jobs in order to avoid a municipal byelection. Hunt at first pledges to donate his civic pay to charity, then decides to give the funds back to the city.

• • •

A White Rock man – dubbed the ‘surgical mask bandit’ due to his choice of disguise – is arrested in connection with 12 armed robberies that targeted ATM customers around the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

• • •

Historic Interurban Railcar 1225 takes its first ride in 50 years between Cloverdale and Sullivan Stations, thanks to the restoration efforts of the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society.

July

MP Russ Hiebert (South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale) says Senate amendments “gutted” his private member’s bill (C-377), which he put forth to require greater disclosure of union finances. Later in the summer, when Parliament is prorogued by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Hiebert’s bill is automatically reverted to its pre-amendment state.

• • •

After a five-month undercover RCMP investigation, two Surrey residents are arrested and accused of planting pressure-cooker bombs outside the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day. John Stewart Nuttall and Amanda Marie Korody are charged with making or possessing an explosive device, conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, knowingly facilitating terrorist activity and conspiring to murder persons unknown for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist organization.

• • •

A 36-year-old Mexican resident who swallowed 66 condoms full of cocaine in an attempt to smuggle the drug into Canada is sentenced to 2½ years in prison.

• • •

A 42-year-old White Rock woman is struck and killed by a passenger train while jogging across the tracks at East Beach.

• • •

White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin, in a letter to Transport Canada, expresses his concern with the unsafe condition of the Little Campbell River rail bridge, as BNSF announces its plans to replace the span, pending permission from the Semiahmoo First Nation.

• • •

White Rock council votes in favour of amendments to the bylaw governing height and density limits for a new CR-3 zone on West Beach.

• • •

After Surrey RCMP highlighted a more than 50-year-old missing-persons case involving a Surrey mother, daughter Linda Evans manages to track down her ‘missing’ mom, 77-year-old Lucy Johnson, who is alive and well living in the Yukon. Evans later reunites with her mother and meets siblings and other relatives she never knew she had.

• • •

A five-year forecast from Metro Vancouver shows utility fees across the region are expected to jump by 23 per cent by 2018, increases made necessary by upgrades to the region’s sewer and water system.

August

A scaled-back version of the city’s annual Spirit of the Sea Festival is met with harsh criticism from attendees, some calling it an “embarrassment.” Matt Todd, president of the organizing society, takes responsibility for the poorly received event, noting a shortfall of funding and volunteers have made it impossible to maintain the event’s large-scale nature of previous years.

• • •

Ryan Ashe, well-known on the streets of White Rock, dies in Surrey Hospice at the age of 56, after a battle with lung cancer.

• • •

After six years as Surrey’s city manager, Murray Dinwoodie announces his retirement.

• • •

After a public plea for help, the owner of Surrey’s God’s Little Acre farm is overwhelmed with hundreds of volunteers who lend a hand with harvesting thousands of pounds of produce, much of which is donated to local food banks.

• • •

With a few weeks before the start of a new school year, the finishing touches are put on the brand new Sunnyside Elementary replacement, located at 2828 159 St.

• • •

Cloverdale’s Norm Sherritt, known locally as a meticulous historian, longtime educator and founder of the Centre for Child Development, passes away just a few days shy of his 93rd birthday.

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The so-called “Nephew Bandit,” accused of crimes that involved scamming seniors across the country, including here in White Rock, is arrested after being pursued for more than five years.

• • •

Close to 60 bronze flower vases are stolen from grave sites at Victory Memorial Gardens in South Surrey, prompting increased police presence in the area. Twenty-eight of the vases are later recovered at a Surrey recycling facility; police search for a 42-year-old Langley woman in connection with the thefts.

September

A White Rock resident en route to a concert in Washington state is told she is “inadmissible” to the U.S. after admitting to a border officer at Pacific Highway crossing that she had used marijuana in the past.

• • •

A house in the 2600-block of King George Boulevard is the scene of a front-yard brawl and standoff, prompting the closure of the busy stretch between 24 Avenue and 152 Street for several hours. Several weeks later, the house is the scene of a murder investigation, after a man is killed in what police describe as a “targeted home invasion.”

• • •

Nearly 100 take part in the third White Rock Zombie Walk in September.

Nearly 100 take part in the third White Rock Zombie Walk along the waterfront in September.

• • •

Fraser Health imposes a controversial $25-per-month wheelchair-rental fee at its 16 long-term care homes, despite neighbouring Vancouver Coastal Health Authority announcing it will not be imposing the fee at this time.

• • •

Tensions rise at White Rock council after a successful vote to reconsider moving council chambers out of city hall to a vacant building at 1174 Fir St. takes some councillors by surprise and raises questions over the vote’s legality. A request for a special council meeting made by two councillors is later dropped, although criticism of the actions taken by council – and the community’s perception of the process – remains.

• • •

South Surrey resident Douglas Wayne Bowers, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to possessing child pornography, is sentenced to nine months in jail.

• • •

Surrey RCMP arrest 18 people at a house in the 15400-block of 22 Avenue that they say is connected to drug-related activity; officers seized a small amount of drugs and stolen identification documents.

• • •

Community leaders focus on rail safety, with the mayors of both White Rock and Surrey calling in November for train tracks to be relocated inland. In the wake of the train death of a jogger this summer, Transport Canada proposes a number of safety measures along the White Rock waterfront, including signal arms, fencing and warning lights – suggestions that are met with resistance by Mayor Wayne Baldwin, who calls them impractical and reactionary.

• • •

A 16-year-old Princess Margaret Secondary student is killed and two others students injured after the trio is struck by a motorcycle while jaywalking near the school. The city later announces a lighted crosswalk would be installed on the street where the students were hit.

• • •

A resolution put forth by Sidney council for the regulation of motorized mobility aids meets with criticism locally and is ultimately rejected in a split vote at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Convention.

• • •

Premier Christy Clark announces plans to replace the aging George Massey Tunnel with a new bridge, with construction to begin in 2017.

October

Nearly six years after six people were gunned down in a Surrey highrise apartment in a gang-related attack, the trial gets underway for the infamous Surrey Six case.

• • •

The White Rock Business Improvement Association votes to cut funding to Tourism White Rock, a decision that came as a surprise to tourism officials and Mayor Wayne Baldwin, but is cited as “fiscal responsibility” by the BIA president.

• • •

An FBI investigation and arrest of a San Francisco man accused of masterminding an anonymous online empire of weapons and drugs is linked to White Rock, when reports surface that a Peninsula resident was the target of a murder-for-hire scheme. Local RCMP, however, deny any involvement with the investigation.

• • •

After calling on White Rock city staff to review council wages in order to raise their own salaries, councillors reject the initial recommendation comparing remuneration to three other cities. Adding three more cities resulted in a recommended $3,500 bump, but a $20,000 increase to the mayors’ wages – a figure Mayor Wayne Baldwin called “out of whack.” In the end, council backed $3,000 more for councillors and $14,000 more for the mayor – effective in 2015.

• • •

The community gets its first look at a proposed residential-tower development planned for 19 Avenue and 152 Street – which would include a 350-seat performing-arts centre, art gallery and café – but some neighbours oppose the plan, fearing it would set a precedent for similar highrises.

• • •

Mayor Wayne Baldwin apologizes for mistakes made by city hall with regards to inaccurate guidelines given to developers of an under-construction strata project, which impacted neighbours of the Bishop Road lots.

• • •

The young man who pleaded guilty to killing 15-year-old Laura Szendrei in a Delta park in 2010 is sentenced as an adult to life in prison. He was one week shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the attack.

• • •

The first-annual International Artist Day Festival takes place at the White Rock Community Centre.

• • •

Surrey councillors vote unanimously to join the opposition to Fraser Surrey Docks’ proposed new coal-export facility.

November

The provincial health minister orders an operational review of Fraser Health in an effort to address rising costs and congestion.

• • •

Police warn sex-trade workers to take extra precautions after a woman is found dead in the parking lot of Hi-Knoll Park.

• • •

Longtime former Surrey councillor Gary Robinson passes away suddenly at the age of 57. He’s remembered as a feisty councillor and an advocate for those struggling with substance-abuse issues, after battling his own addiction before becoming clean.

• • •

A controversial highrise project on Vidal Street gets the go-ahead from White Rock council after passing with a 4-3 vote.

• • •

Plans for the $51.9-million Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre – to be built at 24 Avenue and 168 Street – are released; among the amenities are a 50-metre lap pool, a leisure pool and dive tower.

• • •

A draft environmental-impact assessment on the proposed coal-transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks ordered by Port Metro Vancouver is criticized by Fraser Health’s chief medical officer as failing to address human-health impacts.

• • •

After a trial spread out over a year, Darryl Gordon Brown, accused of severely beating a White Rock businessman with a pipe wrench four years ago, is convicted of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

• • •

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin host a well-attended community forum to discuss relocating the train tracks from the Semiahmoo Peninsula waterfront inland. In the following weeks, local residents and politicians alike express varied opinions on the proposal, questioning the cost (estimated at $350-$450 million), feasibility, timing and environmental considerations.

• • •

The body of a man found murdered outside a residence near 99 Avenue and 120 Street marks Surrey’s 22nd homicide of the year, the highest in the city’s recorded history, prompting Mayor Dianne Watts to form a task force to examine some of the possible causes behind this year’s spike.

December

The parents of local plane crash victims Lauren Sewell and Dallas Smith – who were killed in an Okanagan crash in August 2012 – join forces with another victim’s parents to pressure Transport Canada into legislating reforms they say would have likely prevented the deaths of their children.

• • •

Jail time is recommended at the sentencing hearing for former Surrey city planner Akonyu Akolo, who pleaded guilty in September to breach of trust by a public officer in relation to defrauding the city out of tens of thousands of dollars.

• • •

One of the three accused standing trial for the Surrey Six murders enters a surprise guilty plea to charges of conspiracy to murder victim Corey Lal. Michael Le is later sentenced to 12 years in prison, which amounts to three more years in custody after credit for time already served.

• • •

A former prison guard is sentenced to four years in jail for accepting bribes and smuggling contraband to inmates at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

• • •

More than a year after two joggers were struck in a crosswalk at 152 Street and 32 Avenue, charges of “fail to stop at accident scene involving bodily harm” are laid against 54-year-old Barry Russell Christiansen of Surrey.

• • •

Former Semiahmoo Peninsula teacher George Heinz Kraus, who pleaded guilty in 2005 to child-porn charges, again admits to possessing illicit material.

• • •

Surrey’s Karim Meskine, 19, dies three days after being severely beaten near 22nd Street Station in New Westminster, in what police describe as an attempted robbery. A 16-year-old is charged with second-degree murder in relation to the attack.

 

 

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