This horse was spotted ‘parked’ outside the BC Liquor Store at Wembley Mall in Parksville. (Dawn Topolnicki photo)

This horse was spotted ‘parked’ outside the BC Liquor Store at Wembley Mall in Parksville. (Dawn Topolnicki photo)

PQB Year in Review: First look back at the news of 2019

January through April highlights

  • Dec. 30, 2019 12:00 a.m.

The PQB News offers part one of our annual year in review: a look back at what made headlines in 2019. This section covers covers January through April; check back as we complete the journey through the year’s local news. Check out any print edition anytime at


Jan. 1

– The effects of the massive windstorm on Dec.20 were still being felt across Parksville Qualicum Beach. Maureen Grecht and her husband didn’t have power at their house in Little Qualicum River Village for five and a half days. Grecht said she had never seen anything like the destruction. BC Hydro restored power to 70,000 customers between Dec.20 and Jan.1.

– A new exhibit describing 150 years of Indigenous and Asian Canadian people living on the island was brought to the Qualicum Beach Museum. Created by UVic and VIU student researchers, the exhibit looks at those people’s experiences creating communities on the island, and the racist policies they endured.

READ MORE: B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

Jan. 3

– The District 69 Society of Organized Services surpassed their goal to raise $110,00 with their Caring for Community at Christmas fundraiser — they raised a total of $116,077. The money covered grocery store gift cards that were given out to people during the holidays.

– A Qualicum Beach goaltender made his debut with the American Hockey League’s Laval Rocket and helped them take down the Charlotte Checkers 4-2. 24-year-old Connor LaCouvee made 22 saves during his inaugural game.

Jan. 8

– Three properties in the area made it into BC Assessment’s list of Vancouver Island’s top 100 valued residential properties for 2019. Two of the properties are in Nanoose Bay, on Dorcas Point Road. The one in Qualicum Beach is a waterfront property at Eaglecrest Drive, with an assessed value of over seven million dollars.

– A Parksville resident spoke about his experience spending the last several years producing IMAX films. Byron Horner spent time capturing forests and animals in B.C.’s Great Bear Rain forest. “They (spirit bears) are incredibly beautiful creatures, so it’s really inspiring to see them in this natural setting,” he said of the experience.

Jan. 10

– Numbers released by the Oceanside RCMP showed the number of impaired drivers during December more than triple the total from 2017. “Impaired driving occurs at all times, however, the increased enforcement during the Christmas season tends to lead to increase apprehensions,” Sgt. Stephen Rose said.

– A Parksville woman was sentenced to six months in jail after pleading guilty to seven charges in Nanaimo provincial court. Amie Jolene Kloss, 30, was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle after she drove a stolen pickup truck into an Oceanside RCMP car on a logging road in March. Other charges relate to drugs, firearms, fraud, theft and driving with a prohibited license.

Jan. 15

– The Grotto Spa at Tigh-Na-Mara regained its title as the number one spa in Canada. “I don’t think it’s so much bragging rights as it really reinforces the quality destination spa the grotto is,” said general manager Paul Drummond.

– A high-end Lincoln was stolen from Parksville’s Mid Island Truck Auto and RV in front of staff members. The thief jumped in the car and sped off in front of lot manager Angelea Cave, who said “my instinct was to get in front of the vehicle so he wouldn’t drive off but that didn’t really stop him.”

Jan. 17

– The Multi-Use Cinema society first proposed their plan with support from Qualicum Beach Council during a committee of the whole meeting.

– Parksville’s Glenn Forde won a silver medal at Boxing B.C.’s 2019 Amateur Boxing Provincial Championships in Abbotsford.

Jan. 22

– A break and enter at Parksville’s BC SPCA caused damage to the building. A personal laptop and some technical equipment was stolen, and the damage caused the building to be left without power for ten hours. No animals were physically harmed.

– Coun. Robert Filmer expressed concerns around bringing in a Cannabis store to Qualicum Beach during a council meeting, noting the proximity to YouthLink and a nearby library branch. Filmer said he was not interested in reversing the decision to allow the store but still felt it important to voice his opinion.

Jan. 24

– A pop-up library box was vandalized in Parksville Community Park for the second time in under a year. The box was set on fire, and a complaint reported to police that they saw three people running away from the fire scene.

– The community came together for a Bowser couple who lost their home during a fire. Kirstyn Brown-Mcfadyen and Jordan Pisani called the response unbelievable. In the first day the GoFundMe page raised $10,000 for the couple.

Jan. 29

– 250 rental apartment units were proposed for development on a large lot at Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street South in Parksville. The property company said the units would help address a historically low rental vacancy rate in the area.

– Gord Johns was acclaimed as the NDP candidate for the federal election for the Courtenay-Alberni riding. “We have had some enormous successes on important issues but we still have a lot of work to do,” Johns said while addressing his supporters. “We don’t have to look far to see how much people are struggling in our country and around the world, the environmental challenges that we are facing are immense and there is inequality in our communities.”


Feb. 5

– Qualicum Beach students banded together to write a letter to Oxford Dictionary protesting changes to children’s dictionaries. Oxford removed 50 nature-related words from their junior dictionary and replaced them with words like, ‘MP3 player’ and ‘celebrity.’

– The ECHO players showcased the first-ever production of a locally created play. The play, called Second Chances, was written by Parksville’s David Jewell, and has music with Jewell and Nanaimo’s Nico Rhodes. Director Jennifer Kelly said the play touches on “the idea of loss, the challenges of love, and the opportunities for a second chance in life,” including the experience of those affected by homelessness. The play raised money for Manna Homeless Society’s community car mobile.

Feb. 7

– The Oceanside RCMP received 18 reports of crashes in 24 hours due to snowy and slippery roads in Parksville Qualicum Beach. No serious injuries were reported, but the Oceanside RCMP called the number of calls “a certainly high number.”

– Becky Weiss, a CEAP-TIDES and Distance Learning teacher at School District 69 (Qualicum) had a new course approved called ‘The Art of Gender.’ It that aims to teach Grade 12 students the theories and concepts around gender, and have them express what they learn through different kinds of art.

Feb. 12

– Qualicum Beach town council passed a recommendation that “staff advise commercial and multi-residential properties who are receiving garbage collection from the Town of Qualicum Beach, that the service will no longer be provided as of June, 2019.”

– In their first season, Parksville’s First Lego League competitive robotics team, the Cyber Raptors, returned from the Provincial Championships with the ‘Rising Stars’ award. The competition involved building a robot and having it navigate an obstacle course, as well as various missions.

Feb. 14

– Five firefighters from the Qualicum Beach Fire Department geared up to climb 48 storeys — all in the name raising money for the BC Lung Association. The team went to Vancouver to climb the stairs in their full Personal Protective Equipment, weighing almost 60 pounds while using only their SCBA air supply to breathe.

– The City of Parksville reported around $62,200 of expected net profits for their solid waste services. A five-year solid waste budget was presented to council by the director of finance Lucky Butterworth.

Feb. 19

– Former City of Parksville chief administrative officer Debbie Comis spoke about being let go from per position. She said she assumes it was a political decision based on council’s belief that she was “responsible for the current status of the supportive housing project” at to-be Orca Place.

– Qualicum Beach residents Yvon and Simone Essiambre celebrated their 70th anniversary and spent some time looking back at a storied life together. The couple have eight children, 16 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Feb. 21

– School District 69 (Qualicum) discussed vaping, and the concern about its popularity among high school students. “Vaping is on the rise,” said Gillian Wilson, assistant superintendent at SD 69. Teachers and administrators said they would put in measures to monitor vaping among students.

– 100+ Women Who Care Oceanside helped out a local charity with a $21,500 cheque. The money went towards buying a new van for the Wheels to Wellness Society, which helps residents who need help getting to medical appointments.

Feb. 26

– Parksville Council voted in opposition to a plastic bag vote, 6-1. Coun. Adam Fras was the only member in support of the ban. Mayor Ed Mayne said he thinks jurisdiction around single-use plastic would be better handled by higher levels of government.

– An Errington family is left without a home after the December windstorm toppled a tree onto their trailer, causing extensive damage. Cindy Clarke and her family started a GoFundMe page to try and raise money to cover the $17,000 cost of replacing her roof.

READ MORE: Parksville council won’t ban single-use plastic bags

Feb. 28

– Qualicum Beach council passed a motion in support of a pay raise for themselves during a meeting on Feb.25. The vote changed the annual remuneration of the mayor to $46,000 and $34,500 for councilors.

– Local RCMP from the Oceanside Detachment joined officers in taking a plunge in Victoria to raise money for a good cause — uniforms and all. The annual event raises money that goes towards the Special Olympics. $3,400 went directly to Special Olympics Oceanside.


March 5

– A roof collapse in Errington caused two workers to be airlifted to the hospital. Parksville Fire Department chief Marc Norris said Errington and Parksville firefighters were able to cut the roof off of one of the workers and had to use the airlifting bags and some blocks of wood to get the roof structure off the other trapped person.

– Herring egg harvest reopened in French Creek and Qualicum Bay after a small group of people contracted Vibrio choleric infections in March, which was said to be caused by the consumption of herring eggs from the areas. High rainfall was believed to be a factor in the bacteria growing in the eggs.

March 7

– New circus school, Circus Freaks, opened in Parksville. Circus Freaks is an all-inclusive circus school and aerial fitness facility. Owner Glenny Davidson said she the goal of the facility is to reduce stigma around aerial fitness and create a welcoming environment for everyone.

– The BC SPCA reached out to the public to help with Two-year-old tabby cat Onyx’s vet bills after he was shot by a pellet gun in Nanoose Bay. Onyx had his leg amputated, but remained a “very sweet cat” according to SPCA staff.

READ MORE: Cat has leg amputated after being shot with pellet gun in Nanoose Bay

March 12

– A team led by a Kwalikum Secondary School graduate was the first Canadian all-women’s student mine rescue team to win the 2019 Intercollegiate Mine Emergency Response Development exercise at the Colorado School of Mines. Jill Newell graduated from KSS in 2007 and said it was a wish come true to be able to get enough women together to form an all-women team.

– A celebration was held for two Errington huskies who were killed on Christmas Eve, bringing some closure to the family. Kodi and Tigger were shot and buried on an Errington Farm for attacking a pregnant goat.

March 14

– Musician and painter Will Millar brought his songs and stories of old Ireland to the McMillan Arts Centre in Parksville for St.Patrick’s Day. Millar co-founded The Irish Rovers, and spent 35 years touring around the world.

– A fundraising campaign was started for Parksville senior Fred Buott to help him raise money for a new electric tricycle. Buott, a pensioner who collects bottles and cans to supplement his income, was run off the side of the road by a truck in July — damaging his tricycle.

March 19

– A show of support for 222 Corfield was vandalized. Hearts were torn down from the fence, after being put up by advocates. For every $5 donated to a fundraising project to buy housewarming gifts for future tenants, a red heart was hung up. Karen Brooks, who hung up hearts just before they were vandalized, called it “a sad and not appropriate way to handle anger at all.”

– Five students from Kwalikum Secondary School protested climate change in downtown Qualicum Beach. Elena Sales, Avery Frew, Alyssa McClintock, Sophia Morton and Everly Jones spent a couple of hours during the global climate protest expressing their concerns by talking to people on the street and showing off protest signs,

March 21

– Anglers raised concerns about their safety due to unpredictable weather conditions during a Regional District of Nanaimo Electoral Area Services Committee meeting. They said that’s why they want electric motorboats, due to sudden wind gusts that pose a risk to people fishing on Spider Lake.

– A horse was seen parked out outside of the liquor store at Wembley Mall. Dawn Topolnicki moved to Parksville a year ago to escape the big city and said seeing a horse parked among cars reinforced that. “I came upon a singing cowboy riding this lovely horse. He parked the horse in an [accessible] spot and made his way into the store. The universe was telling me that we were not in the big city anymore,” she said.

March 26

– The Brant Wildlife Festival kicked off, with more than 25 events on the program. The year’s theme was Beaches, Marshes and Estuaries and featured river walks, bird watching, nature walking, presentations and more.

– Parksville athlete Billy Buhler set marks in both raw and equipped lifting during a 2019 Canadian Power lifting Union Championship in Ottawa. Buhler’s performance at the championship made him eligible to compete in a world championship event.

March 28

– A Comox Valley man asked Qualicum Beach council to support a resolution from the Strathcona Regional District asking the provincial government to cease approval of licenses for bottling groundwater for commercial sale or bulk export. It was the first step, before Bruce Gibbons presented the resolution at an Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities meeting. Mayor Brian Wiese said he would support the motion.

– Parksville’s Kaiden Finley died after a brave battle with brain cancer. The 11-year-old will be remembered for his endless efforts of raising awareness for brain cancer in the community and beyond.


April 2

– Residents mourned the removal of Howard, the giant gnome who spent two decades along Highway 19 near Nanoose Bay. He found a new home at a family farm in Saanich, to the disappointment of a few Parksville businesses who were hoping they would move to their properties. However, the family of the man who built Howard said they thought Galey Farms in Saanich was the best place for him.

READ MORE: Parksville Qualicum Beach residents disappointed to see Howard the gnome leave

– The Parksville Library showed off new additions to excited kids and adults. Additions included: Virtual reality; a 3D printer; a new lounge area with a fireplace; a laptop bar; a new children’s area and more reading materials.

April 4

– 224 ferns and shrubs were planted along the banks of Shelly Creek by 23 volunteers in effort to preserve the creek and its fish populations. Planting along the stream will help stabilize the ground around it as well as provide natural cover from predators.

– The City of Parksville requested that council approve $35,000 in the 2019 budget for goose management. A key recommendation of the strategy is to reduce non-migratory resident Canada goose populations by killing geese in aim to prevent conflict between geese and human activities as well as reduce damage to local estuaries.

April 9

– The RDN decided to discontinue the $10.7 million Bowser Village Centre sewer project due to scheduling and cost constraints. The project was originally supposed to serve 99 parcels of land in the village centre, and would have included a collection system, a wastewater treatment and a disposal system.

– Around one million pink salmon fry were released into Nile Creek, in order to start their journey to the ocean. The salmon stay in the ocean for about two years and then return to the creek to spawn, with about a one-and-a-half per cent return rate.

– After six months of rehabilitation, a young eagle was released from the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. People from as far as New Brunswick came out to watch.

April 11

– Parksville Community Park unveiled the new and improved Lion’s Ventureland Playground, complete with in-ground trampolines, an embankment slide and 2D and 3D sea creatures.

– Several Parksville Qualicum Beach area businesses were given awards at the 12th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards on April 4th in Courtenay.

April 16

– Students from Kwalikum Secondary School expressed their disappointment at Parksville city council’s decision to not ban single-use plastics in the city. Members of the Environmental Club at the high school said as a community they need to all do better to reduce their environmental impact.

– Four feral Parksville rabbits died from a highly infection virus. It was the second year in a row the virus had been found in mid-Island bunnies and the source remains unknown.

April 18

– Qualicum Beach’s iconic Crown Mansion was put on the real estate market for $5.9 million. The 5.23-acre property on Cresent Road has a triple car garage. Bing Crosby, John Wayne and the King of Siam have all visited the mansion.

– The Regional District of Nanaimo made the decision to scrap the District 69 Recreation Commission. Instead, the board agreed to form a new committee to look at upgrading Ravensong Aquatic Centre, among other projects.

April 23

– Randy White stepped down from the District 69 Recreation Commission. “The terrible decisions of the RDN regarding community projects, its inability to be open with citizens and the latest move to remove unelected citizens from the recreation commission all affected my decision,” he said in his resignation letter. “I meet very few people who have much good to say about the RDN.”

– Modular housing units for 222 Corfield were brought in during its third phase of construction.

– Juliana Cook, a Ballenas Secondary School graduate, spoke about her upcoming trip to Prague. She performed at Knox United Church in Parksville on May 5 before heading to sing in the Czech Republic, where she performed Mozart’s Magic Flute.

April 30

– Gas reached $1.56.9 per litre in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, and some drivers said they’d only use their cars when they absolutely needed to.

– The Oceanside RCMP were searching for an elderly man who pretended to be a police officer in Qualicum Beach. He had the words POLICE on his shirt, as well as red-and-blue lights affixed to his darkly coloured SUV.

– Sharon Hamlyn embarked on a cycling trip across Vancouver Island to raise awareness for neuroendocrine cancer to support her sister who was diagnosed with NETs several years ago. Hamlyn planned to ride 50 kilometers a day to raise awareness and donations, although she said those were secondary to getting the word out.

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