Year in Review: The stories making headlines in 2017

Hope Standard looks back at triumphs, tragedies and oddities of the year that was

Take a walk down memory lane with the Hope Standard, to the year that just wrapped up. The following were some of the stories making headlines in Hope and the Fraser Canyon in 2017.

JANUARY

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Temperatures took a dive in early January, making the ice on Kawkawa Lake more stable than it had been for 20 years. Hope residents took advantage of a week of skating, hockey, biking and cross-country skiing on the ice.

Outdoor enthusiast Kelly Pearce said there was only one way to take advantage of the fleeting ice cover.

“You’ve got to be prepared to drop a few things and skate your brains out and get your chores done later,” he said.

BC NDP leader John Horgan revealed Harry Lali was not his preferred nominee for the Fraser-Nicola riding, telling reporters he preferred a First Nations candidate for the riding.

Both Lali, a four-time NDP MLA, and Nicola band chief Aaron Sam announced in 2016 they were seeking the nomination for the riding. Lali ended up winning the NDP nomination in March.

A teenager died Jan. 28 in a skiing accident at Manning Park. Catherine Schoeman, a 15-year-old from Abbotsford, veered out of bounds on her first run of the day and collided with several trees.

Despite wearing a helmet and paramedics spending 90 minutes in attempts to revive her, the teen died. She was survived by her father, mother and five siblings.

Park manager Mike Barker said serious accidents were very rare and the tragedy was difficult for park employees.

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Lifelong volunteer and Hope resident for 55 years Patricia Eileen Murakami passed away at age 79.

Three months after receiving the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, Murakami died in the Fraser Hope Lodge, a place she helped build and fundraise for.

During her time in Hope, Murakami was an advocate for people with mental and physical disabilities, for the less financially fortunate and people experiencing domestic abuse.

She also ran a hockey school and helped her husband Ernie build the Hope Arena.

An owl found by a Hope couple out for a stroll near Silver Lake in December was released back into the wild.

The malnourished owl was cared for by the Orphaned Wildlife (O.W.L.) Rehabilitation Society after the rescue by Shelly Baker and Dave Daoust.

FEBRUARY

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When hearing of former teacher Barry Mansfield’s challenges with Parkinson’s disease, Hope residents started a campaign to fund a therapy for Mansfield not covered in B.C.

Duodopa therapy, costing $60,000, was funded in other provinces but not B.C.

The Duodopa for B.C. campaign urged people to write letters to their MLAs, the minister of health and person in charge of PharmaCare to ask for their support in funding the therapy.

Later that month, Health Minister Terry Lake stated the province would pay the fees for Duodopa for a small group of suitable patients.

Record-breaking snow that turned into freezing rain and heavy downpours pounded Hope and surrounding areas.

Schools closed across the Fraser-Cascade school district for all but one day during the week of Feb. 6, and Highways 1, 3 and 5 were closed for a day due to weather, avalanche control and traffic accidents.

Council decided Feb. 14 to give the owner of 489 and 508 Trans-Canada Highway an ultimatum to force him to clean up the properties. Richard Madison had until April 30 to clean up the former U-Save Gas station and a dilapidated building across the road, or face legal action.

Hope had moderate population growth, according to census data released Feb. 8.

At a 3.6 per cent increase, Hope lagged behind the rest of the Fraser Valley’s six per cent.

John Belec, associate professor of geography and environment at the University of the Fraser Valley, said since 2001 he saw a trend of the 65+ age group increasing and the zero- to-four age group decreasing in Hope.

“We do need to find ways to get younger people into Hope, and with good paying jobs” Chamber of Commerce president Lloyd Forman said.

“They can afford a house, start a family. That’s the future.”

The Boston Bar food bank was in dire need of donations in February, with 18 per cent of the population accessing the service compared to the Canadian average of two per cent.

The independent food bank, open once a month usually before cheque day, receives no funds from the province or federal government.

MARCH

Fraser Hope Lodge was given a mixed grade in a report by the Office of the Seniors Advocate.

The lodge had lower-than-average rates of falling with injury or an adverse event: two per hundred beds compared to the provincial average of 11.9 per hundred beds.

Incidents of food or other poisoning, medication error with adverse event, missing or wandering person and other injuries and aggressions between persons in care were all lower than the provincial average.

Rates of disease outbreak and occurrences of abuse or neglect were higher than average.

Two bowlers from Boston Bar had their dreams of relaxing on a tropical beach realized.

Sherri Forman and Nick Clelland came first in the Chase, B.C. provincials against 18 other teams, each walking away with a trip for two to Hawaii.

Trucker Pat Gaudet succumbed to his injuries in hospital, despite surviving a crash on Highway 3 that saw him pinned in his cab for two days.

The rescue effort involved 20 people, including Hope Search and Rescue, Silver Skagit Mechanical, Jamie Davis Towing and the RCMP.

It took rescuers from Tuesday, Feb. 28 to Thursday, March 2 at 10:30 a.m. to locate Gaudet, whose truck had gone down a steep embankment in the area of Rhododendron Flats in Manning Park.

The complex rescue took 10 hours, with teams stabilizing the truck, opening the dash with a saw and the Jaws of Life and stabilizing the driver for stretcher transport.

Gaudet died early on the morning of March 4 at Royal Columbia Hospital in New Westminster with his wife by his side.

District of Hope council said there will be no lighting up in Hope, until federal laws change.

Chief administrative officer John Fortoloczky said more and more communities were seeing applications for sale and dispensing of marijuana.

Council would not approve these proposals until decriminalization or legalization happened.

“Some communities have decided to embrace chance, and we feel it’s a bit too early,” Fortoloczky added.

Three SD 78 trustees sent a letter to Minister of Education Mike Bernier asking him to appoint a special advisor to review the school board’s governance.

Heather Stewin, Rose Tustian and Cindy Ferguson signed the letter, which stated the board was “severely dysfunctional” with four trustees hindering the work of the other three by voting against their motions and acting punitively against the minority such as the recent censure of Tustian.

Hope resident Evan Empey called for the Fraser Canyon Hospital to add some form of entertainment in patient rooms.

“In my friend’s room there’s nothing,” he said after finding no TV, Wi-Fi or radio when visiting a friend in a patient room.

“There’s not much to do except dwell on your problems.”

Fraser Health said Wi-Fi would be in patient rooms by the fall, but adding a fibre optic system for cable would involve renovations disrupting the hospital’s operations.

Hope Secondary School students were evacuated March 10 for a suspected gas leak.

The smell turned out to be from a battery left overcharging in the automotive shop.

School district superintendent Karen Nelson said she was grateful for the evacuation plans in place, which were finalized just after Christmas.

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Around 100 marched through downtown Hope for the first march for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Men and Boys in the community.

Organizers included men and boys, as the majority of Indigenous people missing or murdered are young men and boys.

“I just couldn’t ignore the issue,” said Cheam First Nation Chief Ernie Crey, whose brother died a violent death in Hope.

The homeless count revealed an increase in Hope and Boston Bar.

The numbers in Hope went up by 64 per cent from 22 people in 2014 to 36 this year, with one-third of those surveyed pinpointing affordable housing as one of the largest barriers to finding a home.

APRIL

Nurse practitioners were made available in Hope for people who had experienced sexual assault, although patients would still need to leave the community for the collection of forensic evidence.

The nurses in Hope provide pre- and post-medical support in a program started by the Hope and Area Transition Society and Fraser Health.

Estimated costs for the Station House project were announced. The $1,936,000 price tag had some councillors scratching their heads.

Mayor Wilfried Vicktor noted the plan represented a “Cadillac version of what we could do” without taking into account the limited funds of the district.

Pat Giroux moved onto traditional Yale First Nation land for the first time April 1, as one of 12 tenants to move into newly constructed energy-efficient homes.

Housing and “coming back home” of members living away from the community were identified as priorities in the nation’s community plan and Chief Ken Hansen said housing was still a need in the community.

“We have people on the housing list for over 20 years,” he said.

“Housing is possible on reserves if you have the proper leadership and the proper management in place and proper financial records.”

Michael Henshall entered the race for Fraser-Nicola MLA, running under the British Columbia Social Credit Party.

A Hope-area-based realtor, Henshall said in an interview with the Hope Standard the answer to B.C.’s housing crisis was more supply and less government regulation.

A Hope pharmacist won a new practitioner award from the British Columbia Pharmacy Association.

Lindsay Kufta of Pharmasave ran the first year of the vaccination program, did research on genetics and medication, and helped the pharmacy intertwine with drug addiction recovery.

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Reporter X.Y. Zeng spoke with Hope residents of different backgrounds who were struggling to find a place to live.

Alisha and Josh Peck both had jobs in Hope and were desperately searching for a rental for the pair, their three dogs and two cats. The options left for them were moving to a motel, camper van or trailer, or moving out of the community.

“I don’t want to,” Josh said. “We’ve lived here for almost nine years and we call it home.”

John Sullivan, a pensioner, and his dog Muffy were sleeping just a little less rough than where they first started out in Hope.

Living on a pension only allowed Sullivan to spend $600 on rent. He started in a tent and, just in time for winter, moved to a trailer.

While happy to have a roof over his head, at $500 in rent, Sullivan didn’t have a working furnace and dealt with broken pipes, a hot plate and many leaks.

MAY

After lobbying from the Silver Creek Elementary School Parental Advisory Committee (PAC), Hope council approved a $15,000 contribution towards a playground at the school. The PAC had $68,500 of the $120,000 needed to start building.

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BC Liberal Party candidate Jackie Tegart was re-elected in the Fraser-Nicola riding, with a 706-vote lead over Harry Lali, who ran as the BC NDP candidate.

With 42.4 per cent of the vote, she said her focus areas would be tourism, jobs and health care.

Students from Hope Secondary School and the community’s elementary schools took the opportunity to host their own mock elections a day before the provincial vote. BC Green Party candidate Arthur Green emerged victorious with 337 of the 869 votes.

“A little bit nerve-wracking,” Jennifer Pietsch, 15, said of the voting process. “It was kind of cool to experience how it’s going to be later on.”

A youth centre with housing on the second floor would fill a need in Hope, Gerry Dyble said.

As executive director of Hope and Area Transition Society, Dyble’s vision was to build a 1,000-square-foot, two-storey building at the back of the society’s new Park Street office.

Dyble was applying for grants for the three-year project, expected to cost $450,000.

With all the buzz about economic development over at district council, reporter X.Y. Zeng asked experts to define the term and what it meant for Hope. Ray Zervini, owner of Canyon Cable and NAPA, said this meant long-term, sustainable jobs in industries that run year-round.

Lloyd Forman, president of the Hope and District Chamber of Commerce, was banking on the lack of industrial land and the prohibitive costs there.

Art Green saw potential for the film industry in the place where Hollywood North got its start.

“It’s my dream that we could…actually build a cultural centre that we could use for large gatherings and concerts, that could double as a film stage,” he said.

JUNE

Hope lost its title of the best tap water in B.C. and the Yukon to the Village of Zeballos.

At the fourth annual “Best of the Best” Tap Water Taste Test in Victoria, a panel judged water from each community based on appearance, aroma, taste, mouth feel, aftertaste and overall impression.

Last year, Hope beat 13 other competitors to take the title.

A 12-foot-tall eagle carving went missing from outside the Owl Street Cafe in Silver Creek.

The same week, the Hope and District Arts Council’s building was vandalized. Holes were punched in the drywall, and glass was broken.

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Hope Secondary School’s class of 2017 graduated in June, as did three Boston Bar students.

Hope Secondary valedictorians Jacob Chisholm and Jessica Henderson said they were both going on to higher education in the Fraser Valley, with Chisholm headed for a career in teaching and Henderson in tourism.

JULY

Seven months after a $500,000 injection by Fraser Health into Hope and Fraser Canyon, the town had a community garden, door-to-door transportation for people with mobility issues and a soon-to-be-built playground.

The money came after a 2016 survey found Hope needed improvements in mental health, smoking cessation and physical activity.

During the worst wildfire season in B.C.’s recorded history, Hope firefighters Richard Wells, Ray Hartt and Dave Hick answered the call to assist. They fought fires around Ashcroft, Cache Creek, Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

Wells described the surreal landscapes he witnessed entering the fire-affected areas with active communities turned into ghost towns and embers on mountaintops.

“To me, it was satisfaction because I got to help somebody. My training got to be used,” Wells said on his return to Hope.

AUGUST

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Smoke from interior wildfires swept in and, together with high temperatures, resulted in deteriorating air quality in early August.

Those with chronic conditions, the elderly, young children and homeless people were at greater risk, Environment Canada warned.

Laidlaw residents were relieved to find out Kinder Morgan would not be going ahead with plans to take 50 acres of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) and pave it over.

The site was originally meant to store a pipe and a work camp housing hundreds of workers.

The company cited, among other factors, “stakeholder engagement” in their decision to scrap the plans.

A task force headed by Mayor Wilfried Vicktor met for the first time, with the goal of tackling “issues leading to aggressive panhandling.”

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The imagination of wood art saw no bounds in August, as carvers took over Memorial Park to craft detailed works with the help of a chainsaw.

The animal theme was strong, with bears, orcas and deer gracing the carvings.

SEPTEMBER

A BC Transit service connecting Hope to the rest of the Lower Mainland started Sept. 5, with four daily runs and service from Monday to Saturday.

The Hope Golf and Country Club was hit with three incidents of vandalism in two weeks.

Broken windows and stolen merchandise caused a headache for owner-operator Bonnie Cianfagna. She guessed it must be the work of teens who came back repeatedly to raid alcohol and snacks from the venue.

District council decided there would be a non-binding referendum on Station House, with residents given two opportunities to vote sometime in November.

Close to 4,000 people poured into Hope for Brigade Days despite the cold and rain Saturday.

The weekend was packed with carnival rides, Endurocross and Jump Your Junk sporting events, a Wallace Street parade and concerts.

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A fire at the corner of Fraser Avenue and Wallace Street Sept. 17 left three households and two businesses without a roof over their heads.

From 4:30 to 10 p.m., 20 firefighters fought the fire and prevented it from spreading to adjacent buildings.

Resident Nelson Marciano said he may have lost difficult-to-replace immigration documents, possibly delaying the Filipino man’s attempts to bring his family to Canada.

“Now I’ve lost everything, I’m back to zero,” he said.

“I don’t know where to start now. That’s the only thing important to me. The materials, the stuff, the appliances – I can buy them.”

The owners of Hope Outdoors and Jungle Juice lost most of their inventory and furnishings.

“We watched our dreams go up in flames,” said Naydeen Spencer, who said Jungle Juice was her first business.

Census data revealed Hope and area residents made less than their Fraser Valley neighbours by 15.3 percent, with Hope’s median income at $26,471 compared to the Fraser Valley Regional District’s median income of $30,526.

The numbers also revealed women made over $10,000 less per year in Hope than men, when comparing the male median income of $33,024 to women’s at $22,131.

OCTOBER

Former Spuzzum band manager Sandra Andrew was sentenced for stealing $140,000 from the Spuzzum First Nation.

In his judgment, Supreme Court Justice Neill Brown said Andrew’s acts traumatized the community and “frayed” the ties binding the community.

Andrew was ordered to repay $43,000 and given a 15-month conditional sentence and 36 months’ probation.

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When community members realized nothing was officially organized for Orange Shirt Day, members of the Chawathil, Shxw’owhamel and Yale First Nations and the Read Right Society made an impromptu gathering of their own.

Sept. 30 was the day six-year-old Phyllis Jack Webstad had her shiny orange shirt taken away from her on her first day of residential school. Her story inspired the Orange Shirt Day movement.

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First Blood turned 35 in Hope with fanfare including a costume contest, walking tour, special screening and rumours of a possible reboot of the famed film franchise.

Canyon residents said they would face isolation if Greyhound went ahead with the proposed elimination of 10 stops on its Prince George route, including Hope, North Bend, Boston Bar, Spuzzum, Yale and Laidlaw.

Boston Bar resident Karen Tillotson said many people use the Greyhound’s courier service for prescriptions and other orders.

NOVEMBER

Hope firefighters performed first aid on pets rescued from a Nov. 9 Park Street fire.

Pet oxygen masks donated by the Fraternal Order of Eagles were used by firefighters for the first time, to revive two cats and a dog trapped in the residence.

“There’s a desperate shortage of caregivers in the community,” said Colleen Johnson, a recruitment worker for foster families in Hope and Agassiz.

With 10 regular families opening their homes to foster children and some families retiring from providing this care due to their age, the need in Hope was great.

A body of water formed on Laidlaw Road from heavy and persistent rains the last week of November, which also caused a mudslide to shut down the Trans-Canada Highway.

“I got up and looked out and it looked like we were sitting in the middle of a lake,” resident Patricia Marlatt said of the scene that greeted her at 3 a.m. Nov. 23.

DECEMBER

Hope real estate prices continued to rise. The average price of a home sold in November was $355,000, up 10.9 percent from $320,000 just a year ago.

All SD 78 school buildings will soon get automatic external defibrilators (AEDs).

When he introduced the motion that passed Dec. 12., trustee Tom Hendrickson spoke of the tragic loss of an eight-year-old Ottawa boy from cardiac arrest. His school did not have an AED.

Yale First Nation Chief Ken Hansen said his community encompassing 16 distinct reserves and headquartered in Hope is experiencing a “re-invigoration of our people, and end to the corruption and the way things were run before.”

Yale is running a food bank program and focusing on on-reserve housing, as well as fighting corruption and encouraging people to participate in band politics.

Handsome the mastiff’s story stole the hearts of many B.C. residents. Handsome was rescued from a property in Hope where the emaciated seven-year-old dog was tied up in the snow.

Soon after, Langley man Kyle Chester donated $4,200 to completely cover the dog’s vet bills.

 

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