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Homeless among top headlines of 2013

A homeless protest camp moved behind walls in December, after residents spent more than a month camped out in Jubilee Park.  - Alex Butler
A homeless protest camp moved behind walls in December, after residents spent more than a month camped out in Jubilee Park.
— image credit: Alex Butler

January

The Abbotsford Christmas Bureau and Food Bank fundraises $411,000 towards its $600,000 goal, while the Salvation Army gathers $372,000 of its $500,000 mark.Demand is up, says food bank manager Dave Murray. He speculates that people are reeling from the economic downturn.

 

Jesse Blue West is found guilty in B.C. Supreme Court of the first-degree murder of 14-year-old Chelsey Acorn. The family hugs each other and cries in relief as the verdict is read, giving West, 60, an automatic life sentence with no parole eligibility for 25 years. Chelsey was reported missing from an Abbotsford foster home on June 10, 2005. Her remains were found April 8, 2006 in a shallow grave near the Coquihalla Highway outside of Hope.

 

February

About 75 people gather outside the home of Leanne Friesen for a candlelight vigil in her memory. The 40-year-old Abbotsford woman was shot in her Cassiar Court home, and her estranged husband, Jeff Friesen, was charged with second-degree murder.

 

Fraser Health Authority receives the lowest per capita funding of any health authority in the province, according to data released by B.C.’s auditor-general. The report, called “Health Funding Explained,” shows that FHA receives only slightly more than half of the per capita funding of Vancouver Coastal Health Authority (VCHA).

 

Three men are charged with the first-degree murder of Jonathan Bacon, formerly of Abbotsford, and the attempted murder of four others in Kelowna. The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) announces that Jujhar Khun-Khun of Surrey, Michael Kerry Hunter Jones of Gibsons, and Jason Thomas McBride of North Vancouver were arrested. Bacon, 30, was a key player in the Red Scorpions gang.

 

March

The University of the Fraser Valley’s women’s volleyball team wins the national title, the first-ever for the local university. The team faced off against the sixth-seeded Lakeland squad.

 

A massive manhunt is conducted on Vedder Mountain and Sumas Prairie as police hunt for one of two men suspected of smuggling drugs over the U.S. border and shooting at an American border guard.

 

Family, friends and co-workers mourn the loss of a man described as a passionate outdoorsman. The body of Mark Taylor – the general manager of the city’s parks, recreation and culture department – is recovered by search and rescue crews in Yoho National Park. Taylor had been on a five-day ski excursion with his daughter, in her 30s, and another man.

 

April

Representatives from the federal, provincial and municipal government announce a new $25-million project to create an overpass over railway tracks on Vye Road and improve southbound traffic at the Huntingdon border crossing. Each level of government will contribute $8.3 million, with $4 million of the city’s contribution coming from federal gas tax funds.

A controversial proposed $35-million YMCA facility in Abbotsford is indefinitely deferred by council after the YMCA expresses its “wish to indefinitely withdraw their offer,” says Mayor Bruce Banman. The project would have required a city contribution of $17.5 million.

 

Four Abbotsford runners participate in the Boston Marathon, where two explosions rock the finish line on April 15 at 2:45 p.m. None of the local runners is injured.

 

May

The Liberals clean up in Abbotsford in the provincial election, with incumbent Mike de Jong taking Abbotsford West, and  newcomers Darryl Plecas and Simon Gibson carrying the Liberal victory banner in Abbotsford South and Abbotsford-Mission, respectively. University criminologist Plecas defeated long-serving incumbent John van Dongen, 48 per cent versus 28.

 

A lawsuit is filed against the City of Abbotsford on behalf of drug users and an advocacy group, arguing that the city overstepped its authority with a 2005 zoning bylaw prohibiting harm reduction measures in the city. The Pivot Legal Society represents three individuals in the lawsuits, as well as the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors. A human rights complaint is also being filed against the city.

 

June

On June 4, city workers dump chicken manure on a small area on the side of Gladys Avenue across from the Salvation Army, a common area for homeless people to gather and sleep. The next day, as word of the incident spreads, garnering attention from media across the country, city manager George Murray issues a short statement, apologizing and taking responsibility on behalf of city hall.

 

City manager George Murray indicates that nine managers and one union position will be cut from city hall as part of a “new organizational structure” that will save the city more than $1.25 million annually.

 

July

A proposed 20-unit housing project for homeless men receives stiff opposition from the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association (ADBA). The group calls for the public to oppose the proposal from Abbotsford Community Services to provide housing for up to two years for homeless men, and offers a petition for people to sign. The ADBA is opposed to the rezoning of the site and the impact such a facility could have on downtown businesses.

 

Two individuals accused of planting pressure-cooker bombs outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on Canada Day are arrested later that day in Abbotsford. John Stewart Nuttall, 38, and Amanda Marie Korody, 28, of Surrey are charged with several offences, including knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity.

 

August

The City of Abbotsford’s former economic manager Jay Teichroeb launches a civil lawsuit against the city, saying he was wrongfully dismissed as part of a concerted effort to remove the city’s senior employees. Teichroeb left city hall in June after 12 years. He later settles his suit for almost $100,000.

 

Dustin Moir, previously convicted of murdering 14-year-old Chelsey Acorn of Abbotsford, is granted bail while he awaits a new trial, which he won in an appeal of the case. He is released from prison on a $200,000 surety.

 

September

Christopher David Long, 25, of Abbotsford is sentenced to four months’ house arrest and one year probation for hacking the email and social media accounts of pop superstar Carly Rae Jepsen. Long changed passwords, posted vulgar messages, made veiled threats to Jepsen’s then-boyfriend and downloaded personal materials of Jepsen’s.

 

October

The trial for the murder of six men in a Surrey apartment in 2007 begins in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. The Crown prosecutor tells the court that five of the victims – including Abbotsford resident Ed Schellenberg – were killed to ensure no witnesses to the targeted drug ring-related killing of the sixth. The three accused plead not guilty. The trial continues through 2013.

 

A long-awaited public bus connecting Chilliwack, Abbotsford, and Langley is finally approved by the Fraser Valley Regional District, with a target start date of September 2014. Although the BC Transit bus passes at FVRD and at Chilliwack city council, it is unexpectedly shot down in Abbotsford. The mayor vows to bring the issue back to the table.

 

Some of Abbotsford’s homeless join forces with the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors to set up camp in Jubilee Park, with a mission to raise awareness about the needs of the city’s most marginalized. The homeless have clashed with the city often over the location and safety of their camps in 2013.

 

The Masters Grand Slam of Curling holds its six-day run at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre. The major event draws the world’s best curling champions and is billed as an Olympic preview. Canadians Glenn Howard and Rachel Homan, both from Ontario, emerge victorious at the men’s and women’s finals respectively.

 

November

Abbotsford flying enthusiast Marty Lehner dies after his ultralight airplane crashes in West Abbotsford. Lehner, on the board of the Abbotsford Airshow and member of the Abbotsford Flying Club, was en route to Maple Ridge to check out a plane for purchase when the 13-minute flight went terribly wrong.

 

The Abbotsford Hospice Society struggles to raise the final $5 million for the completion of the $12 million Holmberg House, the city’s first adult hospice. Construction has already begun and AHS says it might have to slow down progress until more funds flow in. The creation of Holmberg House has been a dream in the community for decades.

 

December

A protest camp moves from Jubilee Park to the adjacent parking lot, where the homeless erect a large four-wall wooden enclosure out of plywood and place their tents inside. The campers move back to Jubilee Park after the city issues an eviction notice, and the city is then granted a court injunction to have the park vacated and the plywood structure dismantled.

 

A B.C. Supreme Court judge finds Abbotsford man Harmohinder Khosa guilty of second-degree murder, saying he fatally stabbed his sister in 2010.

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