Eight people were forced to flee a burning chalet at Mount Washington in March. All eight people in the chalet managed to escape safely before it was completely engulfed. Photo by Luke DeBoer

2020 Year In Review: March

Union Bay governance review starts; COVID-19 comes to the Valley

  • Dec. 26, 2020 12:00 a.m.

A star is added

Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie was honoured in the Comox Valley for his career on the high seas.

The Cumberland native received a star on the Comox Valley Walk of Achievement. The Walk celebrates individuals from the area who have excelled in their chosen field. It is also meant to inspire young people and instil a sense of civic pride.

Auchterlonie has had an esteemed career in the military, commanding ships and formations at every senior rank. He was commander of the HMCS Fredericton from 2007 to 2009, captain at CFB Esquimalt from 2012 to 2013, commodore of the Canadian Pacific Fleet from 2013 to 2015 and rear admiral of the Maritime Pacific Forces / Joint Task Force Pacific starting in 2018. He has also served four tours at the National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa.

Fishery protest

Hundreds of people gathered on Denman and Hornby islands to protest the Salish Sea herring fishery. Those with kayaks and canoes paddled from Bill Mee Park on Denman and from Ford’s Cove on Hornby, gathering in Lambert Channel to create a flotilla protest.

“It was a show of solidarity. It was very heartening to see that level of support,” said Denman resident Keith Porteous, who had a front-row seat when the seiners came in. “They were here all night with floodlights and generators. It’s kind of like an industrial park moves into your neighbourhood for a while.”

The herring fishery went ahead, as approved by the DFO, despite petitions signed by tens of thousands of residents calling for a moratorium.

Union Bay governance review

The Comox Valley Regional District rolled out its itinerary for the governance study determining the future of Union Bay, having commissioned the consulting firm Urban Systems to undertake a “technical, unbiased review of the options” of Union Bay residents, regarding the future of the Union Bay Improvement District.

UBID, which oversees water, fire protection and street light service in the community south of Courtenay, has been mired in years of dysfunction, with infighting and lawsuits among trustees.

The governance review led to a referendum in the fall for the community to decide its future.

COVID reaches the Comox Valley

The Comox Valley received news of its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Island Health sent out an advisory to families that a member of the Comox Valley Waldorf School had tested positive for the virus. It was the 12th case on Vancouver Island.

By the middle of the month, the Comox Valley Regional District had announced the closing of its recreation facilities “until further notice.” The City of Courtenay, Town of Comox and Village of Cumberland all announced similar closures, as the virus continued its spread across the world and into the community. The province also announced the closure of all K-12 schools in B.C.

The Comox Valley Food Bank also announced it would close in March because of health concerns, a drop-off in donations as well as visits from people needing food, although one week later it announced it was reopening, as residents rallied in support of the essential service.


The COVID restrictions started to take their effect on the local arts scene, as one by one, venues announced changes to schedules and postponements/cancellations. The biggest venue locally is the Sid Williams Theatre, which began cancelling shows on March 13.

Uplifting video

Local artist Sue Pyper did her part to bring a smile to people’s faces, as governments continued to urge Canadians to stay home and stay safe. A video, created by Pyper, and played to the music of Big Little Lions song, “Big Mistake,” was viewed thousands of times.

Comox Valley Record


Rear Admiral Bob Auchterlonie in front of the HMCS Ottawa shortly after he and other naval members saulted the vessel on her journey to Asia. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Seagulls and other marine birds packed the shoreline at Kye Bay in March, as the herring roe provided a feast for the feathered community. Photo by Terry Farrell

Sign at Puntledge Park playground. Photo by Terry Farrell

Canadians from Comox Valley and far beyond have collaborated, social distancing intact, to create a video urging their fellow Canucks to abide by the recommendations of public health officials. (screenshot)

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