2013 Year End, May-October: the Tidebrook was demolished

A look back at some of the top stories of 2013 in the Alberni Valley News

May:

The Alberni Valley News raked in the awards in May. Reporter Wawmeesh G. Hamilton won the BCYCNA Neville Shanks historical writing award for his coverage of the Hesquiaht apology in 2012. Hamilton also took took two CCNA honours, one for best news feature photo, as well as a nod for best business story. The Alberni Valley News also received a blue ribbon from the CCNA for general excellence in our circulation category /(6,500–12,499).

At McLean Mill National Historic site, a new spar tree was raised the old fashioned way. The pole raised in April 2009 had rotted in the centre, so it was cut down and a “new” tree—about 172 years old—was donated. The event was special for volunteer Jack James, a former logger who hadn’t raised a spar tree in more than 40 years.

The BC Coroner’s Service confirmed that Vivian Leigh Cudmore, aged 63, from Port Alberni died after her suite on Third Avenue and Melrose Street caught fire.

With only 16,700 chinook expected to return to the Alberni Valley in 2013 the Port Alberni Salmon Festival adopted a coho-only format for the 42nd annual festival on Labour Day weekend.

In sports news, the Armada rugby team was game but overmatched in a tilt with a tough Cowichan Secondary School girls squad, who beat ADSS 63-22.

More than 150 people attended the Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA all-candidates forum at the Best Western Barclay Hotel on May 7. Candidates in the May 14 election were incumbent Scott Fraser; Liberal hopeful Darren DeLuca; and BC Conservative upstart Enid-Mary Sangster Kelly.

Incumbent  Alberni-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser won the battle for his seat by beating Darren DeLuca 9,829 votes to 5,981 votes. BC Conservative candidate Enid Mary Sangster-Kelly earned 1,377 votes. The BC Liberals won the war though, taking 50 seats to the NDP’s 33.

School District 70 officials announced that the Alberni District Secondary School grad parade and ceremony would not be held on the same night this year. Instead, the car parade and prom was held Saturday, June 8 and a cap-and-gown graduation ceremony on Friday, June 28.

In an interview with the News, members of the Thompson family said that they lost more than one brother that fateful Monday when Arron died. Another brother, Archibald, faced second degree murder charges in connection with the fratricide. A deep reservoir of love and a strong familial bond enabled the family to not just cope with the loss of Arron, but also to try and forgive their brother Archibald. “We love each other unconditionally, all of us,” eldest sister Caroline said.

Wawmeesh G. Hamilton took a three month leave-of-absence to write a series of articles for Journalism Human Rights via The Tyee. Reporter Christopher Sun replaced him.

More than 1,000 passengers from the Holland America cruise ship Amsterdam arrived in Port Alberni. The visitors gave the new wharf at Harbour Quay a workout.

Port Alberni RCMP staged a manhunt for the person responsible for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl near Roger Creek Park.

The Canadian Cancer Society has cancelled the 2013 Port Alberni Relay for Life that was scheduled to take place June 22-23 at Bob Dailey Stadium. “The decision was made (Thursday, May 16, 2013) at noon that due to the small number of teams and participants, it was just not going to be feasible to put the event on,” community giving coordinator Melissa Bigmore said.

The provincial Environment Assessment Office (EAO) refused a Raven coal mine application for detailed review.  Compliance Coal did not adequately address “Major information requirements” in its submission, EAO project assessment manager Tracy James said.

Stellar Port Alberni golfer Christina Proteau set a course record at Comox Golf Club in capturing the North Island ladies’ golf tournament title. Proteau carded a 68, breaking the previous record by two strokes to win the Low Gross Mildred Laver Trophy.

Christopher Sun chronicled the struggles of Leila Sturgeon and Keith Elwood, whose son Ethan was wracked with cystic fibrosis.

A 17-year-old male was charged with attempted murder in the sexual assault of a 16-year-old female near Roger Creek Park in Port Alberni on May 21. The male, who is from Port Alberni and cannot be named because he is a minor, also faced of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and choking.

Port Alberni city council unanimously rejected appeals to spare the demolition of two fire-damaged buildings, including the former Tidebrook Motel. Coun. Cindy Solda said she was fed up with owners who don’t comply with city bylaws.“Promises were made before but they are empty promises,” Solda said. “How are we going to encourage new development in the community when some people don’t take pride in it.”

June:

Omega Pacific Fish Hatchery was waiting anxiously to hear from Fisheries and Oceans Canada about when they could release the 65,000 Chinook smolts they had raised into the Alberni canal. The issue was that the hatchery raised stream-type chinook, whereas Fisheries and Oceans preferred ocean-type chinooks.

School District 70 superintendent Cam Pinkerton was in China rallying for School District 70 as a destination for international students to go to school. The Valley can expect up to 100 international students enrolling at ADSS annually, Pinkerton said.

The Alberni Valley Bantam “Rep B” ’97 Blazers captured gold after beating Langford in a tournament in Nanaimo at the end of May, finishing a perfect 4-0. Alberni was getting ready to host the Softball BC Bantam U16 Provincial Championships in July.

Barbie Mayor stepped down as SD70 trustee for the West Coast, triggering a by-election the school district. Mayor said she submitted her resignation mostly due to frustration with the board. “It has mostly to do with the transparency and accountability of the board,” Mayor said. A lot of board discussions are conducted in-camera and away from public scrutiny when they shouldn’t, she added.

In business news, Nanaimo developer Don Saywell purchased a subdivision on Tomswood Road behind AW Neill. Saywell said he plans to build smaller single detached homes on the lots.

School District 70 re-tendered its water taxi contract after costs skyrocketed by $100,000 in a single year. Boat engine repairs and a lack of oversight by the school board accounted for the increase, superintendent Cam Pinkerton said.

The city began soliciting proposals for developing the Marine building at Harbour Quay. The initiative proceeded despite vocal opposition and a petition of more than 1,000 signatures against the move.

In summer ice hockey news the Comox Valley Glacier Kings announced that Port Alberni native Joey Ewing would head up the team for the 2013-14 season.

The first annual Fringe Festival is slated kicked off June 21 in Port Alberni. The event featured a weekend chocked full of arts and entertainment in the Uptown area. The event showcased local talent such as artist Jason Titian, as well as a play by Jen Fisher-Bradley. Also feature were out of town performances by Colleen Clancy, Jake West and Rosie’s Bitts of Tease Cabaret.

The consul general of the People’s Republic of China in Vancouver was set to visit Port Alberni on June 20. The consul general accepted an invitation from Mayor John Douglas.

Hupacasath chief councillor Steven Tatoosh announced the tribe’s plans to replace the Whaler’s Canoe structure at Victoria Quay with a new interpretive centre and multi-cultural tourism promotion centre. The idea is in the conception stage yet, and it’s too early to say if the facility would be a replacement for the failed transformation centre that was slated for Clutesi Haven Marina.

The News interviewed Kate Schievink and Reanne Miller, the valedictorian and master of ceremonies for the upcoming Alberni District Secondary School Grade 12 graduation ceremonies. Schievink and Miller had been best friends since Grade 9. The grad was a first on two notes: one, it’s the first year grads would switch to a cap and gown; and two, the class of 2013 was the first class to graduate from the new ADSS on Roger Street.

Canada Post announced that they were in fact going to close the postal outlet on Argyle Street as of July 19. All employees would be re-assigned to other duties, officials said. City Coun. Jack McLeman didn’t mince words about the closure. “They promised that this side of town would be serviced by a post office; it’s dishonourable and shouldn’t have happened.”

The teen girl who was brutally assaulted near Roger Creek in May was out of hospital and determined to get back to school. Meanwhile, the 16-year-old boy accused of the crime was facing four charges including attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault with a weapon and the attempt to strangle the 16-year-old girl. Crown Counsel was applying to have the accused tried as an adult.

School District 70 announced that it awarded the $800,000 contract to level the old ADSS on Burde Street to Bowerman Excavating. The demo was scheduled to start in July.

Graphic artist and Toy Run member Vince Gladstone unveiled the 2013 Port Alberni Toy Run artwork which featured Toy Run Ted sporting an old-school mechanic’s denim shirt and a female companion.

There may not have been a Relay for Life this year but there was a survivors walk of sorts. Alberni residents Christina Dicks and Heather Newton organized a lap of celebration in its place, similar to the survivors’ victory lap. If there is no relay in 2014 then a group of volunteers vowed to organize another lap of celebration.

July

The Port Alberni Port Authority received a $225,000 federal grant to underwrite a feasibility study that would examine a proposal to develop a container transhipment and liquid natural gas export facility in the Alberni Inlet.

Steampunk Cafe owner and art aficionado Kevin Wright talked about the industrial art project he envisions for Port Alberni, starting with uptown Port Alberni. Wright envisions Third Avenue as the industrial art area, but he foresees industrial-themed artwork along the Johnston Road corridor and elsewhere in Alberni.

In sports news, Alberni Valley Bulldogs assistant coach and assistant general manager Adam Hayduk was added to the Team Pacific staff for the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The tournament is being held from Dec. 29, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

Omega Pacific Hatchery released 65,000 Chinook smolts into Port Alberni’s Arden Lake after all, after receiving approval from the Department of Fisheries and Ocean.

Members of every fire department in Port Alberni responded to a fire in on Elkford Road. No injuries were reported but the fire destroyed the owner’s house, garage, car and trailer.

Van Isle Ford broke ground on its new dealership on Beaver Creek Road. Site preparation including foundation work had already begun.

In Coulson’s Flying Tanker news, the loss of B.C. contract, red tape from White House were stalling plans for both iconic aircraft based at Sproat Lake. “We are cheap insurance,” Wayne Coulson said, adding that the aircraft costs $800,000 to keep around and the contract with B.C. pays for about half that amount. “Every aircraft has a place, like a tool in a toolbox.”

Mike Surrell of Lady Rose Marine Services announced that he had purchased the old Shell property adjacent to his dock. Surrell was mum on his development plans but said that it would involve a commercial building in the near future.

School District 70 hired a new water taxi contractor on the West Coast. The district’s $400,000 annual water taxi bill dropped to $140,000. In an interview with the News, superintendent Cam Pinkerton said that the overage was due to the former operator charging per student (30) rather than per trip (eight).

The city released its year-end financial report for the year-end 2012. City manager Ken Watson, Port Alberni fire chief Tim Pley and city engineer Guy Cion were listed at the highest paid employees who earned more than $75,000 per year.

Organizers were working like eager-beavers in preparation for Port Alberni’s inaugural Art Rave festival, which was held in August. The Art Rave was being held to raise public awareness of the high-profile artists that live and create in the Alberni Valley.

August

City workers were fast at work cleaning up the shoreline at the former plywood site in preparation for the opening of the new Canal Beach. When completed the area would be the first public beach the city has had since 1952, Port Alberni Mayor John Douglas said.

No cause was reported in a fire that damaged an upstairs suite in Port Alberni’s ‘twin towers’ between Fourth Avenue and Bute Street. No one was hurt but seven tenants were temporarily displaced.

City emergency planning co-ordinator (and would-be Nancy Drew) Laurie L’Heureux solved a 40-year old mystery in the city. L’Heureux and others found a cache of equipment put away following the 1964 tsunami. The cache was found in the M’akola Housing development on Eighth Avenue. “We’re going to find some cobwebs and spiders and some very interesting old stuff,” she said.

Port Alberni’s Christina Proteau won the Canadian Women’s Mid Amateur Golf title for 2013. Proteau also tied for 31st at the Royale Cup Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship, held concurrently at Club de golf Beloeil in Beloeil, Que.

The Uchucklesaht First Nation announced that it purchased the Rusty Anchor Inn, formerly known as the Somass Hotel, in uptown Port Alberni. The tribe plans to transform the building into their new administrative home and cultural centre.

Tofino Air owner Chris Danroth said that floatplane service could start arriving at Port Alberni’s Centennial Pier now that it’s finished. Danroth said he has been in discussion with the Port Alberni Port Authority for more than a year to offer flight service between Tofino and Port Alberni, and beyond. The discussions even influenced the pier’s construction, he said.

The new Sunday Craft Market at Harbour Quay reported is was enjoying slow but steady success after splitting from the Farmers Market three years ago.

Reporter Christopher Sun reported on the Cooking out of a Box program, which is offered in conjunction with the Salvation Army’s Good Food Box. The program teaches nutritional literacy to students in the English as a Second Language program at Literacy Alberni.

April’s Boutique owner April Dallman called on the city to install steel posts in front of parking stalls on Third Avenue after a car smashed into the front of her store, Monday afternoon. It was the second time in 15 months that a car has jumped the curb and hit a store on this block.

The city doled out an extra $50,000 for additional cleanup at Canal Beach. The money went towards removal of logs and various debris including sunken boat equipment, beach gravel, rock bank stabilization and installation of boom sticks to prevent logs from entering the beach area.

Students at Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre reported getting a hands-on lesson in ecology. “A common household object left floating in the ocean can deliver the final blow to an animal that mistakes it for food,” one of them said. Students collected 600 pieces of trash in just two hours on the Tapaltos Bay shore.

In a blow for the city’s nuisance property bylaw, a burned out house on Golden Street was finally torn down, almost three years after a fire destroyed it. Damage to the house exceeded 75 per cent of its value and it has had maintenance issues since 2008. “I’m happy for the neighbourhood because the neighbours are the ones who brought this to my attention,” city coun. Cindy Solda said. “Enforcement is complaint driven.”

A local man discussed his plans to open a medical marijuana production facility in the old Stephen’s Sheet Metal building on Bute Street near Fourth Avenue. “From my perspective, if a large medicine manufacturer came to town and they wanted to manufacture medicine in the community, we would welcome them,” Douglas said. “This is a prescribed medicine mandated by federal government guidelines.”

Christopher Sun chronicled the struggle of James Albrecht, the plucky nine-year old John Howitt Elementary School student who was battling Rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft tissue cancer.

The Federal Boundaries Commission for B.C. finalized the redrawn federal boundaries. The new Courtenay-Alberni riding will include Courtenay, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet. Nanaimo-Alberni MP James Lunney said he planned to run again in the 2015 federal election, but was unsure if it would be for the new Courtenay-Alberni riding.

Two Port Alberni teens who rescued a drowning man from the Somass River were recognized for their bravery at a special luncheon at the Tseshaht administration building. Malcolm Swan was rescued by Deion Watts and Oswald Felsman IV at the Paper Mill Dam area on the Somass River on July 31.

September

Logger sports patriarch Al Boyko, whose seen and done it all, readied himself and his steeds for another year of logger sports events at the Alberni District Fall Fair.

Speaking of fall fair, West Coast Amusements monarch Bingo Hauser, 77, chatted with the News about the 50 years he’s brought his stomach-churning rides, neon lights, music and oil-stained carnie workers to Port Alberni.  “I still remember when it was like a mud bowl here, then the community pitched in and improved the grounds,” Hauser said. “This community is still like that and that’s why it’s one of my favourite stops.”

Wayne Coulson went to bat for the dozen people whose jobs were on the line because of the provincial government’s decision to cancel a $672,000 contract for the Martin Mars waterbomber. The Wildfire Management Branch is looking for a turbine, multi-aircraft amphibious water-scooping airtanker group for the contract, a ministry spokesperson said.

The long-awaited tear down of the former Tidebrooke Hotel started. The $23,000 bill for the demolition will be invoiced to property owner Jack Purdy for payment. If he doesn’t pay, then the amount will be tacked on to his property tax bill.

Local aboriginal-cuisine connoisseurs Dolly McRae and Annie Watts debuted their culinary skills on an episode of Untamed Gourmet on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network.

The City of Port Alberni added “Bear Smart status” to its many designations. Provincial environment minister Mary Pollock announced that the city received the Bear Smart designation on Sept. 7.

Collision specialists with the RCMP were investigating what caused a fiery single-vehicle crash that claimed the lives of three people from Ahousaht. A single vehicle traveling west drove off the right side of the road, rolled over, and burst into flames killing the three occupants on Sept. 8.

New Catalyst Paper Corp. CEO Joe Nemeth rolled through Port Alberni to see the local mill and have a chin-wag with local civic and union leaders. “We only met him briefly when he was here. It was more of an initial meeting and introduction,” CEP 592 president Jim Van Dusen said. “We do look forward to more in-depth talks later though.”

School District 70 was still working ironing out the wrinkles in its the new school bus schedule it rolled out at the start of the school year. SD70 took a $750,000 hit in its transportation budget. The district subsequently scaled back by running three fewer buses in Port Alberni; no bus in Bamfield; and two fewer buses in Ucluelet/Tofino. “We can’t go back to the way it was. That just isn’t possible,” SD70 superintendent Cam Pinkerton said.

Reporter Chris Sun may have been gone but he left a multi-part series on independent education in Port Alberni starting with Haa-huu-payak School, which focuses on teaching the Nuu-chah-nulth culture and language.

Port Alberni city councillors voted to get the ball rolling on a new building standards bylaw that spelled doom for nuisance properties. Excerpts from the bylaw include owners will need to register vacant buildings with a $1,000 permit. Special safety and monitoring inspections are required. Violators will be fined between $100-$10,000 and or spend six months in jail. “We can’t catch every piece of property with this, but we can sure catch some of them,” Coun. Jack McLeman said.

SD70 crunched the numbers and reported that there were 50 more students enrolled at Alberni District Secondary School than projected. There are also 40 fewer students than projected at the middle school level in the Alberni Valley.  And there are six fewer students than projected at elementary schools.

Kevin and Natalie Smith moved from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia to Port Alberni to take over as the new owners of Canadian Tire. “We literally moved from coast to coast,” Keven said.

A treaty planning resource guide developed jointly by B.C., Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Yuutu?t?ath (Ucluelet First Nation) and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District (ACRD) has received a national planning award. The guide, entitled A Path Forward, received an award for planning excellence from the Canadian Institute of Planners.

The independent school series continued with a look at faith-based education options in the Valley. Chris Sun looked at John Paul II Catholic school and Port Alberni Christian School.

An emergency resolution demanding the province renew the Martin Mars water bomber contract was passed at the Union of British Columbia Municipality conference in Vancouver.

Alberni resident Melanie Anderson said she planned to cut her long flowing locks. Anderson donated her hair and proceeds for cutting it to a charity for cancer.

Local hoteliers pitched their concerns to city council about the proposed city bylaw encouraging uptown investment and property development. The bylaw requires a $1 million investment entitles an owner to a 100 per cent municipal tax exemption on improvement costs for a maximum of 10 years. A $100,000 investment fetches a 100 per cent municipal tax exemption on improvement costs for up to a maximum of five years. amounts to local business subsidizing competition against themselves, Best Western Barclay Hotel general manager Peter Muggleston said.

October

Port Alberni resident Mel Dunlop spearheaded an effort to establish emergency veterinary care in the Valley. Dunlop took up the effort after a family pet that had to be transported to Nanaimo for treatment because it couldn’t be treated here after hours had to be euthanized.

Dion Hopkins addressed Port Alberni city council about his medical marijuana facility at a public hearing about the initiative. The facility would grow 100-300 plants, have extensive filtering to deal with pot odour and have a multi-layered security system, he said.

Nuu-chah-nulth rugby player Phil Mack singed a contract to play professional rugby for the Ospreys of Swansea, Wales. In four years with UVIC Mack played nationally and internationally for Canada played 19 times. He captained the National Sevens team, and played in the Pacific Nations Cup and in the Rugby World Cup qualifiers.

Toastmasters International in Port Alberni celebrated its 60th anniversary in October with a special event at the Steelworkers Hall. Shirley Maxwell recounted her 30 year involvement with the club, and how she’d gone from being as quiet as a church mouse when she first joined to being president three decades later.

Manzini Animal Hospital owner Alana Symington talked about how her facility offered after-hours on-call care for their clients on a flexible basis. Offering it on a full-time basis requires more staff and a larger population than in Port Alberni, she said.

More than 1,100 people packed the Alberni Athletic Hall to watch the Unity Celebrity Basketball Game. The game pitted a team of professional athletes and entertainers against a team of Port Alberni all stars from the RCMP, school and local media. The event raised $14,000 for local youth groups.

The News reported that School District 70 was holding back a $2 million payment from Yellowridge Construction because of heating/cooling issues and landscaping problems at the new Alberni District Secondary School on Roger Street.

New North Island College head man John Bowman replaced the retired Jan Lindsay. “Government funding is an ongoing challenge, says Bowman. “I think the biggest challenge we face is that the needs are far greater than the resources we currently have or that, frankly, we can realistically expect to secure in the short term,” Bowman said.

After 13 years as Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP, James Lunney decided to call it a day. Lunney announced his decision to not seek re-election in 2015.

Port Alberni resident Jake van Kooten retired the heavy-weight pumpkin growing champion of the world. Van Kooten grew his last four giant Atlantic pumpkins in 2012, his last hurrah. “I’m going to call it a career. I’ve been to the top and not many can claim that,” van Kooten said.

Bayfield Realty Advisors Incorporated purchased the Alberni Mall for $22.8 million from Shape Properties.

The Alberni Mall is Bayfield’s first foray into BC. “We see some interesting growth prospects for Port Alberni,”said president and CEO Harold Spring.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority stopped people from bringing flowers to patients at West Coast General Hospital. The ban was issued after an employee at WCGH suffered life-threatening allergic reactions from them.

Lonnie Olsen talked about his former hobby-now a business of making shoes, coats and shirts from scratch using raw animal hides.

Social Justice 12 students at ADSS got a real life lesson from Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn was a victim of Canada’s most prolific serial killer – Robert William Pickton. Dawn, and for that matter other Pickton victims, were “very much like you and came from communities very much like Port Alberni,” he said.

 

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

 

 

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