A look at what made headlines in B.C. for 2016.

B.C.’s top local news stories of 2016

A list of the big stories in B.C. this year – from the Abbotsford stabbing to the Kinder Morgan pipeline approval and the Royal visit.

  • Fri Dec 30th, 2016 6:00am
  • News

We didn’t elect an alt-right leader, we didn’t vote to leave Canada, and we didn’t lose any major celebrities too soon.

But there was no shortage of shocking, stirring, and amazing news stories to come out of our communities in British Columbia.

Here’s the year in review of 100 headlines from across B.C.

Major themes: Real estate, homelessness, the fentanyl crisis, marijuana dispensaries, public transit, the Royal Visit, Creep Catcher groups, Syrian refugees and Pokemon Go.

January

Virgin Mary appears on wall: Did the Virgin Mary come to Surrey? Hundreds of people visited an apartment in Guildford to see an oily substance sweating from the walls. Read More >

Three’s company: The odds of giving birth to three identical triplets is one in 50 million, and a Salmon Arm couple celebrated having their hands full. Read More >

Speaking out about sexual abuse: Twenty-five years later, a Nelson hockey coach reveals he was sexually abused when he was five, and launched a mental health program for young athletes. Read More >

Children in targeted home: Kids aged one, two and nine were inside a home that was shot up in Williams Lake. Read More >

A hairy boudoir shoot: A Langford man-turned-Internet-sensation got rather intimate for a “dudeoir” shoot as a gift for his wife. Read More >

February

Record-breaking animal seizure: The largest seizure in its history, the BC SPCA rescued 66 neglected dogs and puppies from a Langley breeder. All dogs were adopted across the Lower Mainland months later. Read More >

Surrey standoff: A man holed up inside a TD Canada Trust branch in the Newton neighbourhood. He eventually was arrested after a six-hour impasse. Read More >

Airport expands: A new airline flying from Abbotsford International Airport made headlines with fares as low as $89. Read More >

Pride flag burns: A woman was charged with mischief after she lit a pride flag on fire at UBC. Read More >

Former premier dies: Bill Bennett – the man behind mega-projects like the Coquihalla Highway and the SkyTrain – died at the age of 83 in Kelowna. Read More >

BC Winter Games 2016: The multi-sport event touched down in Penticton, giving hundreds of athletes a chance to shine. Read More >

Fire engulfs home: A 69-year-old man died after a large blaze swallowed his Fernie home. Read More >

Protesters must move: A judge ordered demonstrators at the Site C dam in the Peace River region to pack up and go home after they had occupied the space for months. Read More >

March

Boy pricked by needle: A four-year-old boy was pricked by a needle in Maple Ridge he found while playing outside. He’s undergoing quarterly tests for HIV and hepatitis. Read More >

Dozens rally over disability assistance changes: The province announced a new clawback that forced British Columbians to choose between an increase in disability assistance payments and a bus pass. Read More >

Sewage truth uncovered: Black Press reporters dug up the dirt on decades of the regional government flushing raw sewage into the Greater Victoria waters. Read More >

Residents rally against shelter: Maple Ridge residents rallied against a proposed homeless shelter in the city centre, leading Housing Minister Rich Coleman to cancel the project. Read More >

A historian’s dream: A mystery plaque believed to be linked to the Boer War prompted the uncovering of small-town history in Invermere. Read More >

One-way ticket: Two homeless men in Saskatchewan were given bus tickets to B.C., causing uproar on how governments deal with homelessness. Read More >

April

April Fool’s Day: Abbotsford Police announced they’d be firing blueberry Timbits at distracted drivers, cyclists, and walkers. Read More >

New reserve sparks controversy: Spray-painted messages that read “No Rez” popped up on sold signs around a patch of Campbell River land set to be used for a new First Nation reserve. Read More >

Watch what you post: An Abbotsford woman was ordered to put her money where her mouth was, after calling her children’s teacher a pedophile on Facebook. Read More >

Mountie mourned: Mother of two and RCMP Const. Sarah Beckett died after being struck by a pickup truck while on duty in Langford. Fellow officers remembered her as a caring and dedicated officer. Read More >

May

British tourist’s remains found: Two years after he disappeared, the remains of 22-year-old British tourist Tom Billings were finally found on Cypress Mountain. Read More >

Huge blaze destroys apartment: An apartment building home to 100 people caught fire in White Rock, with smoke and flames visible across the Lower Mainland. Read More >

Clark’s party pay OK: The conflict of interest commissioner ruled that donations to the B.C. Liberal Party are not a personal benefit for Premier Christy Clark. Read More >

Giants make giant move: The Vancouver Giants found a new home at the Langley Events Centre. Read More >

Transgender rights: Schools across the province created general-neutral bathrooms for students, including Cloverdale’s Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary. Read More >

One year later: Cache Creek continues to recover after a devastating flood that caused millions of dollars in damage. Read More >

Fort McMurray burns: British Columbians told their stories of escaping the catastrophic fire and tried to help residents rebuild in any way they could. Read More >

Waterbomber stuck in political battle: The out-of-work Hawaii Mars waterbomber might not remain Port Alberni’s hometown hero for long, as political conflicts keep the former firefighting plane grounded. Read More >

Bizarre parking lot stabbing: A 63-year-old man was charged with murder after he chased another man on foot and allegedly stabbed him outside a grocery store in Chilliwack. Read More >

June

Long-time MLA steps back: Called the end of a political era in the East Kootenay, Bill Bennett announced he will not run in the next election, after 16 years in office. Read More >

Parrots left as orphans: The World Parrot Refuge in Coombs was forced to shut its doors after its founder died from cancer. The birds were transferred to other sanctuaries across the province. Read More >

Lucky golfer has déjà vu: An Invermere man shot a hole-in-one twice at the same course, at the same hole, 14 years later. Read More >

Homeless treatment caught on camera: A ‘deeply disturbing’ video surfaced showing a homeless woman begging a Surrey bylaw officer not to throw out her personal belongings. Read More >

Charges laid three years later: New evidence in the killing of 18-year-old Mission mother Rachel Pernosky pointed to her half-brother. Read More >

Dog pens apology: While some dogs have a taste for homework, a Saanich dog had to issue a public statement after destroying a library book. Read More >

Infamous sasquatch hunter dies: John Green was known in Agassiz as a former mayor, newspaper editor and Lions club founder. But to the outside world, he was more well known as a sasquatch hunter. Read More >

July

Hero mom saves boys’ life: A Maple Ridge mother was out for her first walk since she was diagnosed with breast cancer, when she heard two boys calling for help after they’d gotten stuck in a ravine. Read More >

Piano reaches new heights: With a backdrop similar to that of the Sound of Music, families in Smithers took turns playing a piano that was lifted by helicopter onto Hudson Bay Mountain. Read More >

B.C.’s top athletes compete again: The B.C. Summer Games kicked off in Abbotsford, with events including sailing, volleyball, track and field, and archery. Read More >

Driving privileges frozen: A Surrey man’s ice cream truck was impounded after he’d had a few too many and took it for a spin. Read More >

Tragically Hip tour: With news that frontman Gord Downie had been diagnosed with brain cancer, the iconic Canadian rock band launched their farewell tour in Victoria. Read More >

Burns Bog aflame: A fire destroyed 78 hectares of the Delta bog, with crews from outside the area called in to help. The cause has yet to be determined. Read More >

August

Owners plead for missing filly’s return: The foal was only two weeks old when it was snatched off a Langley farm, believed to have been lifted straight over the fence. Read More >

Historic win: Among the dozen B.C. athletes to take home the hardware at the Rio Olympics was Kayla Moleschi of Williams Lake, when she and her team became the first to earn an Olympic medal in rugby sevens. Read More >

Bank robbery not part of a movie: During the filming of Why We’re Killing Gunther in Surrey, the set became the scene of a crime itself, with film crews helping nab the suspect. Read More >

Sex offender moves to Mission: Repeat child sex offender James Conway has been the talk of both Abbotsford and now Mission this year, as both cities push to remove him. Read More >

Teen left in hot car: A 15-year-old girl with special needs suffered heat exhaustion after she was left in the car during the Abbotsford Air Show in 27-degree weather. Read More >

Nine bears killed in three days: A conservation officer in Revelstoke calls it the “the worst week” of his career. Read More >

Keeping stride at 100: What’s your excuse? A 100-year-old Indian runner turned heads as she competed in America’s Masters Games in Vancouver. Read More >

September

BC SPCA makes another big seizure: More than 80 dogs, cats and farm animals were seized from a Langley home, suffering emaciation and severe periodontal disease. It marked the second seizure of this size in the same city. Read More >

Mom caught with the pot: A mother in Saanich was caught for speeding in a school zone after dropping off her kids for the first day back to class. The officer also fined her for lighting up a celebratory joint. Read More >

Mom pleads for child’s return: A mother in Saanich begged for her two-year-old daughter’s safe return after her ex-wife allegedly abducted the child and took her overseas with a new birth certificate. Read More >

Staggering find: A Trout Lake miner struck gold when he stumbled across some rock containing 6.2 ounces of gold per ton – an unheard-of amount in the mining world. Read More >

Homemade treat reaches the stars: Attendees to this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards found homemade fudge in their swag bags made by a couple in Sooke. Read More >

Pepper spray attack: A pair of half-black teenage siblings were the target of a racially motivated attack in Langley involving verbal abuse and pepper spray. Read More >

Officer charged in fatal car crash: A Mountie in Penticton was charged after a five-year-old boy was struck and killed while was crossing the street with his father. Read More >

Terry Lake calls it quits: The Liberal cabinet minister announced that it’s time to retire after seven years representing Kamloops-North Thompson. Read More >

October

Drive-in shuts down: After 54 years, the owners of the well-known Hope Drive-In and Restaurant announced they were closing the doors. Read More >

Racist rant caught on camera: A man was caught on camera in a Abbotsford parking lot shouting racial slurs, such as “Go back to India!” and “White power!” Read More >

Plane crash kills four: Four people died in a plane crash north of Kelowna, including former Alberta premier Jim Prentice. Read More >

Advisory issued over condoms: Those who grabbed a free condom at the University of the Fraser Valley were warned to not use them, after someone apparently poked holes in them. Read More >

Accused killer found dead after manhunt: An extensive search that closed the Trans-Canada Highway in Revelstoke ended after the suspect in a Saskatchewan murder, who also shot a police officer in Golden, was found dead. Read More >

Watchdog steps back: Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond announced her leave as the province’s Representative for Children and Youth. Read More >

LNG terminal gets green light: The federal government approved the $11.4-billion Pacific NorthWest LNG export terminal on Lelu Island in Prince Rupert. Read More >

Teen killed in storm: While walking home from school, a Surrey teen was struck by a falling tree and killed, prompting overwhelming donations online. Read More >

Two words with a big impact: Nanaimo made headlines when one councillor told the mayor, “Bite me.” Read More >

Frightening awakening: A Chilliwack family woke up traumatized after they found two of their beloved goats’ necks slashed overnight. Read More >

November

Random stabbing shakes community: A 21-year-old homeless man is alleged to have walked into Abbotsford Senior Secondary and fatally stabbed one girl and injured another. The court case continues. Read More >

Top court win: The BC Court of Appeal ruled that grads from Trinity Western University’s law school should be allowed to practice in the province, following a dispute over TWU’s community covenant. Read More >

Llama on the lam: Named Snaggletooth because his teeth extended beyond his lower jaw, a Sicamous llama was not interested in a visit from the dentist and instead ran off for four days. Read More >

Rural airline closes: Final paycheques were sent out after Hawkair filed for bankruptcy and closed its Terrace airline. Read More >

Tail docking banned: Veterinarians in B.C. were banned from tail docking and alterations of dogs, horses and cattle, following a landslide vote by the province’s regulator. Read More >

Rain, rain, go away: November was known for its rain this year, with some communities, including Courtenay, seeing 28 days straight of precipitation. Read More >

Mother, daughter belugas die: Vancouver Aquarium’s two belugas, Qila and Aurora, die in the same month. Read More >

U.S. presidential election felt by all: Donald Trump’s win ignited protests around the world, including in Vancouver outside the Trump tower. Read More >

Teachers win in court: The Supreme Court of Canada rules that B.C. teachers can bargain class size and composition at the negotiating table, ending an epic and toxic fight between the union and the provincial government. Read More >

December

15-year-old caught with powerful opioid: A Campbell River teen was nabbed with fentanyl and other drugs in his backpack. Read More >

Condo fire leaves more than 100 people homeless: A cigarette sparked the massive fire that destroyed a four-storey building in Langley just days before Christmas. Read More >

Polygamist trial: The court case for James Oler and two others began in Cranbrook for allegedly transporting his daughter across the border to be married to a man in the U.S. Read More >

What’s in a name? A Salmon Arm couple thought a brand new union deserved a brand new name. Read More >

Woman abandoned at birth finds her mom years later: Janet Keall was three months too late in finding the birth mother who abandoned her on the steps of a Prince Rupert hospital in 1977. Read More >

Cattle abusers fined $300,000: Two Chilliwack men pleaded guilty to animal abuse charges after an undercover video showed cows being kicked and whipped at their farm. Read More >

Mill shooter gets life in prison: Kevin Addison was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for a 2014 Nanaimo mill shooting. Read More >

First Nation without running water for days: A water main break cut off supply to the Ahousaht First Nation, near Tofino – the same group that helped so much when six people were killed in the 2015 whale-watching boat tragedy. Read More >

Sex crimes cop charged with sex crimes: Vancouver Const. James Fisher, who worked on child exploitation cases, was charged with four sex crimes involving a minor and adult following a year-long investigation. Read More >

Public transit

With the long-awaited Compass Card and Evergreen Line rolling out, public transit – and the increase in taxes to pay for it – remained on the forefront in the Lower Mainland this year.

Compass Cards increase ridershipICBC excludes luxury cars and raises premiums 4.9 per centMetro Vancouver approves 10-year plan, TransLink tax hike

Homelessness

Municipalities continued to struggle for the better part of this year with homeless camps and shelter spaces, often overlapping with the overdose crisis and the cost of living reaching new peaks in real estate.

Victoria tent city reaches provincial top courtProvince announces 68 affordable housing projectsChilliwack adopts bylaw to allow homeless to sleep in parksHomeless mobility brought to forefront with many homeless looking to Vancouver’s resourcesKelowna bans sleeping on the sidewalk

Syrian refugees

More than 2,100 of the 38,000 Syrian refugees Canada has welcomed so far have arrived in B.C. More than half of them made it to Surrey, but wherever they settled, they’ve faced countless ups and downs as they get used to their new lives.

Syrian refugees settled into a new, peaceful reality in VernonRefugee family finds new home in KimberleyNelson residents learn Arabic to welcome refugeesRefugee family celebrates on year in Victoria

Overdose crisis

Record-breaking death tolls prompted addiction to be treated like a health crisis by the provincial and federal governments.

Politicians and health officials were also forced to act, when they declared the opioid crisis to be a public health emergency.

The faces of fentanylDelta students overdose at house partyProvince declares overdoses a public health crisisFirst trace of carfentanil suspected in Vancouver overdoseHow first responders are coping with the opioid crisisOverdose prevention sites open in cities across B.C.

Real estate

High prices and low supply plagued B.C. in 2016, despite the province announcing a new foreign buyers’ property tax and nearly 70 new affordable housing projects. Renters in Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver felt the crunch as they struggled to find affordable places to live – or any vacancies at all.

B.C imposes 15-per-cent foreign buyers’ property taxRental crunch hits University of Victoria studentsSaanich family frantically hunts for a place to liveProvince announced 68 affordable housing projects13 restaurants close in five years cause of rent costs

Royal visit

In their second visit to Canada, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a half-dozen places in British Columbia, showing off their two children, George and Charlotte.

Sept. 24 – Touching down in VictoriaSept. 26 – Rainy Bella BellaSept. 27 – Visiting UBCO Sept. 30 – The Great Bear RainforestOct. 1 – Sailing in Victoria

Creepy clowns

Stephen King probably didn’t predict his classic novel It would be making 2016 highlights, but the prank of dressing up as a clowns and lurking around parks and schools made it to B.C.

Parents grew concerned and the government warned students that the fad wouldn’t be tolerated.

Chainsaw wielding clown prompts 911 callsClown attire not allowed while “creepy clown” thing continuesMinistry steps in, laying down creepy clown lawMeanwhile, therapeutic clowns needed in Vernon

Creep Catchers

Saving kids from predators is important. But at what cost? RCMP detachments across the province wrestled with how to use tips and evidence from vigilante-style Creep Catcher organizations.

Surrey Creep Catcher’s Ryan LaForge in his own wordsCommunity support buoys Surrey Creep Catcher groupChilliwack senior busted for child luringMission elementary school principal accused of luring kidsToronto man drives to Vancouver Island to confront alleged molesterAre Creep Catchers there to help or for glory?

Marijuana

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected on a promise of legalizing marijuana, expected to happen next spring. A task force on legalization recommended selling pot to minors and keeping it separate from liquor and cigarettes.

‘Pot’ Alberni follows in Vancouver’s footstepsTask force brings forth pot recommendationsLondon Drugs ready to dispense medical marijuanaLegalizing pot in Canada won’t help at the U.S. border

Pokemon Go

The Pokemon Go craze hit hard in B.C., just like the rest of the world. But the game, popular with both children and adults, went too far for some.

Mission Hospice wants Pokemon Go players to go awaySuspicious youth turns out to be looking for PokemonNo ‘Go’ Pokemon in Maple Ridge cemetery

Pipeline green light

First Nations, environmental groups, municipalities and others vowed legal action after the Trudeau government approved the expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline. In the same breath, the prime minister shelved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline.

Chilliwack farmer says he’s among silent majority in favour of oil pipelinesTrudeau green lights Kinder Morgan, rejects Northern Gateway Protests erupt following green light for Trans MountainPipeline may well be defeated in courts, not the streets