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Goodbye, 2012: Nanaimo News Bulletin's year in review

The Nanaimo News Bulletin
The Nanaimo News Bulletin's Year in Review for 2012.
— image credit: The News Bulletin

JANUARY

Teachers will skip exam supervision due to ongoing job action.

Derek DeGear, president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, said similar to playground supervision duties, teachers will not supervise provincially mandated exams.

Above average temperatures and below average rainfall in December has a number of people wondering where winter went. Predictions of a La Niña system pounding the coast with cold, wet weather have yet to materialize.

Speed and alcohol likely contributed to a crash that sent two people to hospital Wednesday. The crash happened in a quiet residential neighbourhood on the 6000 block of Icarus Drive in north Nanaimo at about 12:45 p.m.

Nearly 180 workers at Malaspina Gardens greeted the new year with layoff notices and the unfortunate news their jobs will be contracted out.

Two men are the victims of what appears to be a drive-by pepper spraying in Nanaimo. The incident happened at about 9:45 p.m. as two men, ages 24 and 21, were waiting at a bus stop near the Hammond Bay and Applecross roads intersection.

Thousands of homes will be powered using clean energy produced at Nanaimo’s Harmac pulp mill.

B.C. Hydro has signed a 15-year agreement with the mill to buy green energy from a new 25-megawatt turbo-generation unit that will be installed at Harmac over the next 18 months.

Nanaimo Mounties unleashed the newly formed White Team on drug dealers who trade specifically in powdered drugs.

The team is a specialized enforcement unit created to tackle the distribution and sale of heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine and crystal methamphetamine.

Workers at the Coast Bastion Inn are under the gun to complete a $280,000 renovation to the hotel’s ballroom in time for its first event. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association – Central Vancouver Island is holding its annual industry construction forum dinner in the ballroom.

It remains challenging to find work in the Harbour City. The unemployment rate in Nanaimo remained relatively unchanged compared to December 2010, according to Statistics Canada.

Nanaimo water infrastructure is flush with cash. The federal government announced it will contribute $7.7 million toward an $11.2-million project to construct a new 14-million litre drinking water reservoir.

Overall crime was down 26 per cent compared to last quarter in Nanaimo, according to a recent report.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority has reopened the pediatric unit at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to adult patients, despite protests from pediatricians.

Freezing temperatures combined with mixed snow and rain has drawn Nanaimo’s homeless to the Unitarian Weather Shelter.

The first deficit in its 14-year history is pushing the Port Theatre to ask for more money from the City of Nanaimo.

Nanaimo’s reputation for hosting major sporting events will provide a much-needed economic windfall for the city as the Canadian Junior A Hockey League’s Western Canadian Championship comes to town in the spring of 2013.

Residents of Pacific Gardens Co-housing Community blocked Corix Utilities technicians from entering the building when they came to install smart meters this week.

A Nanaimo man will serve a community sentence for sexually assaulting four girls. Gary Alan McIntyre pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual assault and received a conditional sentence of two years less a day and three years probation.

City council has decided an internal auditor to ensure taxpayers’ dollars are spent efficiently would cost too much.

An intense low-pressure weather system effectively cut Vancouver Island off from the rest of the province Sunday, cancelling ferry and float plane service to and from the Lower Mainland.

Two children are dead after a fire tore through a house on the Snaw’Naw’As (Nanoose First Nation) reserve.

Damage cost estimates are still being tallied, but First Capital Realty will have to foot the bill for a flood that closed Front Street for three hours after a water main broke.

Nanaimo’s Ballroom Dance Society is back in step after learning that the parquet floor at Beban Park won’t be replaced with a vinyl.

FEBRUARY

A Nanaimo school trustee is disappointed the board wouldn’t support her motion regarding trustee candidates and criminal record checks, but is glad trustees will discuss the issue again. Donna Allen nearly didn’t take her seat after being elected for a third term last November because she wanted to campaign for legislative changes requiring all trustee candidates to undergo criminal record checks and disclose results to the voting public prior to the election.

Frustration over water rights has brought Snuneymuxw First Nation to a boiling point.

The band is threatening legal action against the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Forest Products and the province unless Snuneymuxw can be included in a pending water deal.

The latest raw data from Statistics Canada’s 2011 census pegs Nanaimo’s population at 83,810, a gain of 6.5 per cent or 5,118 people.

Concerned about the destruction of popular riding trails through logging and reduced access in general to private forest lands, Nanaimo mountain bikers are meeting this weekend to vote on whether to pursue formal land-use agreements with private land owners.

The decision to shut the door on the Vancouver Island Exhibition’s plan for a new barn on the Beban Park fairgrounds left the group shocked and disappointed, but not ready to put the issue to pasture.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority is one of the province’s top employers.

Someone was playing with fire at Uplands Park Elementary School. Firefighters were called to the school twice in about a six-hour period.

The federal government is legally obligated to protect killer whale habitat, not just the animals themselves, the federal Court of Appeal confirmed.

Renovations to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s cancer clinic allow the clinic to handle more patients. The $1.8-million project includes one more clinic room and a larger pharmacy.

The B.C. Utilities Commission has approved an extra 2.5-per cent interim increase in B.C. Hydro rates, which means a seven-per cent increase in electricity bills starting April 1.

Uplands Park Elementary School in north Nanaimo suffered more than $5,000 damage when vandals struck.

A four-year-old civil lawsuit between former mayor Gary Korpan and downtown merchant Angela Negrin is settled. Details of the settlement were not disclosed.

MARCH

Construction on Bowen Road and the Quarterway Bridge is entering the final stages after a winter hiatus. Attention now turns to completing Bowen Road.

As teachers prepare for a three-day walkout next week, some parents are scrambling to find alternative arrangements for their children.

Police in Nanaimo are searching for a suspect who slashed the throat of a 23-year-old Canadian Armed Forces reservist waiting for a bus.

Nanaimo city councillors have up to $3,000 per year of taxpayers’ money to spend on seeking independent legal advice as to whether they are in a potential conflict of interest.

Taxpayers living on islands between the mainland and southern Vancouver Island will not see a change in their taxes this year. The Islands Trust Council approved its 2012-13 budget of $6.8 million at a meeting on Gabriola Island Wednesday.

Old man winter will have a harder time landing at Nanaimo Airport, thanks to a $135,700 federal government funding grant for the purchase of a snow plow.

There’s a good chance your movement through the city will be tracked over the next two months, as increasingly complex transportation issues have prompted Nanaimo to embark on its first transportation master plan.

The province has launched an independent review of B.C. Transit.

Maffeo Sutton Park, the city’s most popular events location, is about to get $90,000 in improvements. The first upgrade, which has already begun, is $30,000 in renovations to the park’s washrooms, which will include the installation of floor and wall tiles, new concrete countertops and sinks, new toilets and urinals, new partitions and and improved heating and ventilation systems.

Nanaimo school district staff are installing wireless Internet access in all secondary schools this year and plan to do the same in elemetary schools next year.

APRIL

A pregnant woman survived being dragged by a car, thanks in part to witnesses who blocked the driver’s path. The incident happened in Nanaimo shortly before 4:30 p.m., when police received a 911 call that a woman was being dragged by a vehicle down Bruce Avenue in the Harewood area.

It’s the end of the line for the penny. The federal budget included an announcement that Canada is joining the U.K. and Australia in dropping the penny from production. One reason – it costs 1.6 cents to produce.

Nanaimo was one of 91 British Columbia communities that took part in Earth Hour in a symbolic effort to reduce energy consumption.

The escape of a Nanaimo Regional Correctional Centre inmate is raising questions about the effectiveness of the current prisoner-to-guard ratio policy.

A downtown landmark donated by Nanaimo’s Italian community 50 years ago will get a facelift.

After three years and what seemed like a monumental fundraising task, the Gabriola Health Centre nears completion.

Passenger rail service on Vancouver Island will be revived after the federal government committed to its portion of the $15 million needed to repair the E&N Rail line.

For sale: Aging former warehouse, used most recently as city annex. Needs work. Good development potential. Excellent location. Price to be determined.

A new agricultural complex to replace aging barns at Beban Park could be part of a revisioning process for the 51-hectare recreational property.

In January, the city will embark on a master plan update for Beban Park to reassess community needs, with a June target for completion.

Ferry service between Nanaimo’s Duke Point terminal and Tsawwassen resumes May 1. Duke Point was knocked out of commission Dec. 20 when the Coastal Inspiration crashed while docking.

The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation is not betting on an expansion of its Nanaimo operation anytime soon.

MAY

Break-ins at Nanaimo bike stores have caused at least two shop owners to take the unusual step of personally guarding their businesses in the early morning hours.

Dover Bay Secondary School is again the top public school in Nanaimo, according to the Fraser Institute’s annual secondary school report.

More youth in crisis will have a safe place to stay thanks to the new Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre’s youth safe house.

The 7-10 Club Society might have to close its meal service for at least a week in the summer because of a decrease in donations, an increase in costs, and an increase in people using the charity.

Ralph Nilson hopes to teach Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan a lesson when it comes to the benefits of commuting by bicycle instead of a motor vehicle to help kick off Bike to Work Week.

Two Nanaimo brothers who were charged with manslaughter following a 2006 bar fight will stand trial a second time following a decision last week by Canada’s highest court.

Nanaimo teachers have a new leader. Justin Green, currently first vice-president of the Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association, was elected the union’s new president at the group’s annual general meeting Tuesday, attended by about 200 teachers.nHe will take over at the end of the school year.

An unusually large outbreak of northern tent caterpillars in Nanaimo is putting trees to the test this spring.

After seven months on the job, Susan Cudahy is no longer Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation CEO. Cudahy arrived in Nanaimo last October to take over the new corporation, designed to streamline Nanaimo’s economic development efforts using $1.3 million in taxpayers’ money.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada offices in Nanaimo will close permanently, leaving immigrants with only a toll-free line or e-mail to Vancouver or Ottawa to rely upon for technical questions relating to their paperwork.

Tammy Reynolds began working as a teacher-librarian three years ago, but she’s already become a leader among her peers. Her efforts to help colleagues use technology effectively in the classroom earned her the B.C. New Teacher-Librarian of the Year award, an award provided by the B.C. Teacher-Librarians Association.

JUNE

A weekend bomb scare aboard a B.C. Ferries vessel forced passengers to abandon ship Saturday. B.C. Ferries received a call from an anonymous caller shortly after 3 p.m. saying there was a bomb aboard the M.V. Queen of Coquitlam.

The mid-Island’s economic forecast for the next year is about as bleak as the recent weather – mostly grey with some sunny spots.

First we weren’t, then we were. Then we weren’t again, and now we are. Sort of. That’s the path city council took over recent weeks to designate Nanaimo a Blue Community.

Coastal Fire Centre crews have spent June hauling sandbags instead of fighting wildfires. Marg Drysdale, fire information officer, said there have been no wildfires the entire month thanks to the wet, cooler-than-normal weather.

Remuneration for Nanaimo’s firefighters dominate the city’s recently released list of municipal employees making more than $75,000 annually during 2011. While the list grew to 176 municipal employees making that amount or more – that’s up from 112 employees in 2008 – firefighters account for 76 of those positions.

An early morning fire destroyed an old farmhouse off Westwood Road Friday. Rick Kwasnecha, fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said when crews were called to the scene around 3:30 a.m., the blaze in the two-storey house was already fully involved. The fire destroyed half of the walls and part of the roof of the house, which was vacant for about a month.

More than 600 VIU students received degrees at three separate convocation ceremonies, and an additional 189 graduates of health and human services programs received diplomas and certificates as well.

Ferry Advisory Committee chairs say they are less optimistic than B.C. Ferries after the corporation announced in its 2012 fiscal results that it plans to return to profitability by 2014.

JULY

The Nanaimo Train Station on Selby Street was badly damaged by fire in 2007, but a community desire to restore the building put a $2.4-million fundraising campaign in motion. The hard work has paid off with the station reopening July 25.

The Department of National Defence will be cracking down on hikers, runners and mountain bikers who illegally trespass on its property behind Westwood Lake by issuing tickets and even laying charges.

The city’s liquor licence has been reinstated following a suspension by the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, but the tradition of having a cold one in the dressing room after a game will no longer be tolerated.

If you feel like the month of June owes you something for the drearier-than-normal weather, you’re not alone. June 2012 – the month sarcastically referred to as Junuary – was cold, damp and dark.

 

They didn’t break a record, but they made it to a milestone. The Save-On-Foods Longest Street Hockey game ended at about 5 a.m. at the 50-hour mark, almost halfway to the world record of 105 hours.

Nanaimo Airport made its first million, so to speak, when it hosted a celebration for the one-millionth passenger to pass through its terminal.

The proposed creation of a new federal electoral district near Victoria will have major implications in Nanaimo.

Teachers and parents alike are relieved that a deal has been reached between the teachers’ union and the province.

A Nanaimo bylaw that would have seen wireless companies collect levies from cellphone users to help pay for the 911 emergency service was quashed by the Supreme Court of B.C.

Nanaimo’s council went high-tech to accommodate two councillors who wanted to participate in the meeting, but were in different parts of the world.

A group of north-end residents has formalized efforts to save a small, triangular piece of urban forest.

The poor handling qualities of a shopping cart resulted in a Nanaimo man being taken to hospital with head injuries.

Emergency planning for Canadian municipalities, regional districts, and search and rescue groups suffered a significant blow with Ottawa’s plan to cancel its Joint Emergency Preparedness Program next March.

New amendments to the Coastal Ferry Act will see a total of $30 million in service cuts and could affect virtually any route B.C. Ferries serves.

A tree assassin is at work in Nanaimo’s Eaglepoint neighbourhood, and Roberta Bogle is trying to understand why.

All open fires and fireworks are banned on the B.C. coast for the rest of summer.

Gabriola Radio Society’s proposal to build a radio tower is raising concerns among residents. The society wants to build a 40-metre tower on property located at the end of Chernoff Drive.

The owner of a hair salon in Nanaimo was recently handed a conditional discharge for firing several rounds from a rifle during a break and enter at her business last winter.

The great race was a little wetter than most years, but that didn’t slow down dozens of high-performance bathtubs.

Diners will now be able to bring their own bottle of wine to enjoy at certain restaurants, but local business owners are not anticipating a big change.

The City of Nanaimo isn’t done trying to get wireless providers to help pay for 911 services.

Quality of life in Nanaimo is good, citizens are mostly satisfied with city staff and council, and taxpayers overall say they believe they receive good value for their municipal tax dollars, according to an annual survey conducted by Ipsos Reid.

Nanaimo has a multi-million dollar shortfall in infrastructure funding, but city staff are working to build a rainy-day fund to ensure future repairs and replacements can be met.

Police are investigating an incident of shots fired at a home in south Nanaimo, but the residents themselves are keeping quiet.

A request for the Regional District of Nanaimo to become a blue community got half-hearted support from directors.

AUGUST

Four years after closing its doors as Nanaimo’s A&B Sound electronics retailer, the downtown purple eyesore commonly referred to as the ‘Barney Building’ continues to fall into disrepair with little interest from potential buyers.

Nanaimo educators are excited about the province’s plans to focus on early reading for the upcoming year.

The B.C. legislature’s internal finances are being dragged into the 21st century in response to a damning report from auditor general John Doyle.

Nanaimo’s three MLAs are all for transparency when it comes to B.C.’s Legislative Assembly’s financial and operational activities.

A proposed class-action lawsuit alleging bullying and harassment against women in the RCMP got a high-profile champion on the first day of hearings.

A 28-year-old Nanaimo man was charged with unauthorized possession of a firearm and unauthorized possession of an explosive device following the discovery of a grenade launcher in a Terminal Avenue motel.

Economic development officials and the film commission are back talking about Nanaimo participating in marketing the region to potential filmmakers.

Nanaimo school district is thinking about selling off property in Cassidy known as the old Waterloo School site.

Concerns around an upcoming review of camping on city property has some fearing events like the regional and national dog agility competitions might never happen in Nanaimo again.

A fire in a conveyor belt sent a massive column of black smoke over Nanaimo harbour and set piles of wood chips ablaze at the Western Forest Products mill at Duke Point.

Three teens have their neighbours to thank for getting them out of a fire that erupted at a home south of Nanaimo.

A Tofino man was charged with assault after punching the mother of a two-day-old baby while she was recuperating in Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s maternity ward.

The Modern Café closed, with a bailiff notice posted to the Commercial Street restaurant’s door to advise staff and customers.

SEPTEMBER

Police are asking the public to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour following a spate of small fires around the city over the past 10 days.

B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union workers across the province will hold a one day strike to try and get provincial negotiators back to the bargaining table.

Three people escaped serious injury after a gasoline fire destroyed two vehicles and caused major damage to a duplex in north Nanaimo.

Shuswap MLA George Abbott confirmed he is following his fellow B.C. Liberal leadership contender Kevin Falcon into political retirement.

Organizers of the city’s only full-time cold weather shelter say they were overwhelmed last year and as a result will be operating this winter as an extreme weather shelter only.

The Harbour City River Stewards, Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, South End Community Association and Vancouver Island University teamed up to remove 210 kilograms of garbage from the Chase River.

The doors are closed at the Nanaimo and District SPCA as staff deal with an outbreak of ringworm.The Nanaimo branch joins SPCA shelters in Abbotsford, Kamloops, Prince Rupert and Squamish experiencing quarantines.

When it comes to temperatures, August was hot. Housing sales in Nanaimo? Not so much.

Northbound traffic on the Island Highway ground to a halt in Nanaimo for a police arrest.

Nanaimo school district’s logo has served it well for the past 32 years, but school officials have decided it is time for a change.

What was once known as the ‘Barney Building’ downtown got a facelift courtesy of the Young Professionals of Nanaimo.

City hall is preparing for an unprecedented number of workers, both management and union, who will be eligible to retire in the next four years.

Nanaimo’s first corporate strategic plan is ready to be put into action.

A temporary freeze by the Canada Revenue Agency on The Land Conservancy’s accounts was lifted last week as the organization’s board continues to work on financial restructuring.

A Nanaimo woman who claims an injectable beauty treatment left her permanently disfigured will have her case heard in B.C. Supreme Court in February 2013.

Requests to hook up to city sewers are beginning to back up. Darlene Budd, a 40-year resident of Western Acres, has created a petition with 35 signatures on it asking city hall to install sewers.

Finding a parking spot in Nanaimo’s downtown could be a little easier thanks to a new map identifying parking locations in the city’s core.

Nanaimo residents are encouraged to silently trudge along the trails of Westwood Lake Park this Saturday in support of B.C. deaf and hard-of-hearing athletes.

Nanaimo residents who wish to contend tickets for minor bylaw infractions will soon be able to take their disputes to an independent adjudicator instead of to a courtroom.

Nanaimo RCMP arrested a 19-year-old male after he allegedly robbed two 7-Eleven clerks at knifepoint at the 190 Nicol St. location.

OCTOBER

Nanaimo residents have identified hundreds of tourism opportunities, now it’s up to the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation to determine which ones should be pursued.

A Nanaimo company has netted a federal grant to help establish a land-based model aquaculture farm for rainbow trout.

Eighteen Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock riders breezed into Nanaimo, their high-tech bikes pointed at Diana Krall Plaza and more fundraising efforts.

B.C. Ferries has the green light to raise fares by up to 12 per cent over three years and passengers should expect less frequent sailings on some major runs.

An Edmonton man with a long history of violence was picked up by Nanaimo RCMP after he was reportedly causing a disturbance on Doric Avenue.

Two brothers charged with manslaughter following a 2006 bar fight in Nanaimo are back in court next June for a re-trial.

The city is increasing dog licence fees to help offset rising costs of animal control.

Nanaimo and District SPCA is making some progress on an outbreak of ringworm, but still continues to struggle.

A Nanaimo resident is B.C.’s first confirmed case of E. coli linked to the extensive XL Foods beef recall.

Mounties are blaming a pre-existing medical condition as the reason a man crashed his older model Ford F-150 pickup into three vehicles in three separate accidents in six hours.

Three women from Nanaimo are dead, and five people injured after a motor vehicle crash on the Malahat Drive.

A dog and a smoke alarm saved the day for the occupants of two central Nanaimo houses. More than a dozen fires kept Nanaimo firefighters and investigators on the run over Thanksgiving weekend.

Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney opened the sixth annual State of the Island Economic Summit at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre Oct. 15.

Thousands of people across the Regional District of Nanaimo dropped, took cover and held on when ‘the big one’ hit Thursday morning at 10:18 a.m. as part of an earthquake drill.

NOVEMBER

Two century-old dams at Colliery Dam Park will be removed and the existing lakes will be drained within the next year to eliminate a potential flooding hazard in populated areas downstream.

Police have arrested a 25-year-old Nanaimo man for allegedly setting  fires in garbage cans and dumpsters.

Elke Wohlleben and her son, Enzo, of Nanaimo, were out for a hike on Mount Benson recently when they discovered a huge ammonite impression in a dried out creek bed.

Police are not recommending charges against a 14-year-old Bantam league hockey player from Nanaimo after RCMP investigators determined there was no criminal intent behind two separate on-ice incidents.

A three-month campaign by a Nanaimo dog owner has resulted in the city banning corrective collars at two off-leash dog parks.

A Nanaimo man has received a one-year suspended sentence and a fine for assault and driving his car with the passenger door open and a woman hanging out of the car.

The City of Nanaimo received a 2012 TechGREEN award for reducing energy consumption in its water supply.

The Guinness Book of World Records finally recognized the Nanoose Esso gnome as the world’s largest at 7.91 metres (25 ft. 11 in.) tall.

Snuneymuxw First Nation is embarking on a strategy to remedy what it calls the wrongs done to the Nanaimo Harbour and Nanaimo River Estuary, both on historic fishing and cultural grounds of the band, says Chief Douglas White III.

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed Paul Scott Revane died while scuba diving near Nanoose on the weekend.  He was 53 years old.

DECEMBER

It only took one man less than four minutes to make off with more than $100,000 in stolen jewelry during a break-in at The Bay in Woodgrove Centre.

Mounties are investigating the third case of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle in Nanaimo in less than two weeks.

Crew members from the B.C. ferry M.V. Quinsam and the Nanaimo Harbour Patrol pulled a man from the water after his canoe capsized.

A Nanaimo student’s idea to help a local war veteran injured in Afghanistan has made it to the semifinal round of a nationwide competition that funds projects creating positive change in communities.

What started as a confusing discussion over whether the city or school board owned a parcel of land known as Pioneer Forest has turned into a major land swap between the two parties.

Ambitious goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Nanaimo are being revisited after it became clear the goals were impossible to achieve.

The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce says it is going to closely examine the city’s budget process, specifically on long-term asset management and tax fairness for commercial properties.

A music video parody earned Dover Bay Secondary School students thousands of dollars worth of cutting-edge, educational technology.

Turkey is temporarily off the menu for Christmas after a break-in at the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 15 hall. Several other items ready for distribution were also stolen.

Nanaimo school district’s secretary-treasurer predicts a budget shortfall of almost $5 million next school year.

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