Here is our second installment of our 2020 year in review special feature. Have a read of what happened in your community from July to December of last year… Read the first half of our year in review here.
The Hope Motorsports Group were determined to ensure Canada Day was not forgotten, even as the COVID-19 pandemic wore on and the skies opened up to pour down buckets of rain on this July 1. The group organized a COVID-safe car cruise, inviting classic car enthusiasts from Hope and other communities to come show off their rides, then in the evening the same group put on a fireworks show.
Yale First Nation opened the first cannabis dispensary in the Hope area, an Indigenous Bloom store located on Yale land at Ruby Creek. Chief Ken Hansen said the venture would create self-sufficiency for the First Nation and is one way the nation is taking jurisdiction back over its lands, including the passing of a cannabis law governing this activity on Yale lands.
Hope’s newest business, the Silver Creek Travel Centre, opened in July and was set to employ upwards of 75 to 80 locals.
Two baby bears were rescued by Lydia Koot and conservation officers, after their mother was shot in the Skagit Valley. Conservation officers opted for fines as opposed to harsher measures against the hunter, as he both reported his actions and helped locate and rescue the cubs.
A two day search took place in the first days of July, with rescuers attempting to locate a 50-year-old man who had been drawn into the Coquihalla River near the Othello Tunnels. With treacherous conditions on local rivers, police said further searches would have to wait. The man, who was not identified save for his age, has not yet been located.
Hope resident Jenny Doran recounted her encounter with a bird of prey, injured by a vehicle on Old Hope Princeton Way as it flew low with a recently caught fish. “It was astounding,” she said of the injured osprey. “I mean how often in your life do you get to be so close to something so neat without there being a cage between you and it?” The bird was eventually taken to the OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Society.
One of Hope’s biggest employers, the Nestlé bottling plant, saw the sale of its parent company Nestlé Pure Life to the Canadian company Ice River Springs.
A long term effort to revitalize Boston Bar’s Station House received a huge influx of cash, enough to restore the historic building to 1914 standards. The cash, which must be spent by 2023, will be used to turn the building into a rest stop and museum showcasing the town’s history as a booming rail and mill town as well as its Indigenous history. The ghosts which allegedly haunt the building may also be a draw for fans of the paranormal.
Another major building project was also coming into fruition, as Yale First Nation announced its $10-million community house project was over half funded. In the design stages, the building will be on Yale land in the Dogwood Valley and will include medical, dental and mental health, as well as community and cultural services for members.
An Edmonton-area Hells Angel member and two other men were found guilty on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, extortion, forcible confinement and attempting to choke to overcome resistance after an incident in Hope in 2016. Court documents detailed the assault perpetrated by Neil Cantrill and two others against Hope resident Richard Houle, who had a previous arrangement with Cantrill to grow marijuana in the area and pass it to Cantrill to be distributed in Alberta.
During a heatwave this month, crews and cast descended on Hope to film the Hallmark holiday film A Christmas Tree Grows in Colorado and brought with them both fake and real snow to set the mood.
July 15 would be Alex Girard’s final jump from a ridge line near Hope Mountain – the base jumper died and his body was recovered that day. Girard, who jumped using a wingsuit also called a ‘squirrel suit’, was experienced with the extreme sport and had done several jumps and opened up new areas to jump in the Hope area. Describing what it feels like to fly down a mountainside on a jump, he wrote on social media: “A second ago you were filled with fear. Now, time slows down, you’re deep in the flow state and you watch your mind as it processes information and takes decisions at a speed far greater than you thought was possible.”
The District of Hope settled with the province’s transportation ministry for $650,000 for the province holding up the district in the transfer of the land the town’s station house sits on. The deal includes the land staying with the province and the historic building torn down by the district, something which received some push back by residents in December who called for the preservation of the 1916 building.
Hope graphic artist Bonny Graham had a major hand in designing a major Chilliwack public art piece at the Vedder Bridge roundabout. Graham’s own Halq’eméylem font is used to write the welcome phrase ‘Ey kwesé é mi’ on the piece she designed together with Squiala First Nation Chief David Jimmie. It features a traditional canoe atop a metal ring held up by paddles representing the Ts’elxwéyeqw communities and the City of Chilliwack.
The pandemic had B.C. residents spending more time than ever in the outdoors, which also meant many summer rescue calls for Hope Volunteer Search and Rescue. Crews rescued stranded hikers across the region, as well as people in precarious situations along local waterways. Crews conducted back-to-back rescues July 26, first rescuing two men stranded by the river at the Othello Tunnels the summiting Mt. Outram as the sun rose to retrieve an overdue hiker.
Since the start of the year, ambulance personnel had responded to 25 overdose calls in Hope alone. It’s an average of three to four calls per month and in June and July, those numbers were up to five calls per month in Hope.
Jonathon Mayers passed away Aug. 4 while driving down into Hope on a forest service road – the 29-year-old left behind a loving family including his two young boys. His mother Tracy Mayers remembered young Jonathon as “a little bit of a holy terror” whose love for family was paramount for the young man.
Four local residents-turned-heroes got their dues at an RCMP ceremony in their honour – Craig Fraser for rescuing a senior from a burning car, trio of fishers Steven Forde, Taylor Plett and Kenneth Reid who rescued a woman who had moments before jumped from the Fraser River bridge and Rachel Prest who tried to stop a woman from stepping in front of a train. When interviewed, the men were characteristically humble. Reid said of the Fraser River rescue “You do what needs to be done”, while Fraser, who said he would do the same in a heartbeat despite suffering smoke inhalation seemed not to take to the ‘hero’ moniker readily. I don’t know if it’s really a hero thing, or just the right thing to do,” he remarked at the Aug. 6 ceremony.
After record low real estate sales in Hope and area, a housing sales boom started in the summer of 2020. Single family homes flew off the market, with $200 million in residential homes sold in July alone.
Even though he was made of wood, the cedar carving depicting John J. Rambo still drew a crowd when he was installed in front of district hall this August. News of the carving, by Edmonton-based artist Ryan Villiers, travelled around the world and even received a nod of approval from Sylvester Stallone himself.
Hope saw the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the community publicized, with local service provider the Hope and Area Transition Society and the Fraser Canyon’s Hope River General Store reporting public exposures at their establishments.
As students prepared to go back to in-class learning after being home since spring break, the Fraser Cascade school district outlined how students would be among other changes learning in cohorts, hand washing at the start of each school day as well as physical distancing from other students not in their cohort. Families not prepared to send their children back to in-classroom learning had the option of delaying their child’s school start to the end of November, learning online or home schooling.
A large-scale cleanup began in the wee hours of Sept. 14, after news of a train derailment over Hunter Creek began to circulate. Sixty CP Rail cars running along the CN Rail tracks carrying potash derailed, spilling the pink-hued chemicals and minerals used to make fertilizer out across the tracks and down into the creek which empties into the Fraser River. The clean-up efforts would go on for weeks, yet trains were running along the track again three days later.
With a snap of his fingers, the more popular than ever premier of B.C. John Horgan called a snap election with just over a month for parties to nominate candidates and campaign in entirely new ways during the ongoing pandemic. Incumbent BC Liberal Party candidate Jackie Tegart announced she would run for a third time and the BC NDP’s pick was former Lower Nicola Band chief Aaron Sumexheltza despite the riding leadership resigning in protest following his acclamation. First-time candidate Jonah Timms ran for the BC Green Party, and independents Dennis Adamson and Mike Bhangu rounded out the race.
A man who suffered life-altering injuries after his car collided with a truck on the Coquihalla Highway in January 2014 was awarded $9.1 million in BC Supreme Court. Johnberlyn Uy suffered severe head injuries as a result of the crash, he cannot live independently and requires constant care which his cousin is providing.
The province announced an additional $11.5 million will flow to primary care networks servicing communities from Chilliwack to Boston Bar, including 22 First Nations in the area. This will mean 67 new healthcare hires including GPs, nurses, traditional healers and a clinical pharmacist.
Jaida Conway, 14, was hit by a car when biking across Old Hope Princeton Way near McDonald’s on a rainy, dark night in mid-September. After the harrowing experience, Conway’s mother Tara Goulah called for changes to the intersections along this road. Her call came just over a month after Hope resident Wayne Kurchaba was involved in an accident up the road at the crosswalk near Starbucks. “It’s a dangerous corner, everyone is complaining about it, everyone is scared that someone they know or someone is going to get killed. It’s going to happen,” he said.
Record real estate sales and increasing prices were seen across the region in September, with 421 homes sold at an average of $594,101. Many clients came from the metropolitan Vancouver area and outmigrated in search of a house, a yard, and access to the outdoors. The COVID-19 pandemic also moved many people’s employment online, which may be a factor in some home sales.
Trail runner Marina Striker broke the record for female supported trail running along the Hudson’s Bay Company Trail from Tulameen to Hope, completing the 76-kilometre trek in 12 hours, 44 minutes and 17 seconds.
Longtime Hope area company Emil Anderson Construction was given the go ahead to start a gravel pit at the company’s property in Silver Creek. This despite opposition from residents at a nearby subdivision, who feared the company’s plans to extract 300,000 cubic metres of the stuff would result in noise, air pollution and a lower quality of life for the mainly retired neighbours, some of whom live with pre-existing health conditions. The longterm plans for 20060 Hockin Road are an 84-lot subdivision, after the gravel has been extracted and sold, the company hopes, to the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.
A part of Hope’s history came down with a crash and a bang Oct. 7, as the green A-frame previously housing Hope’s museum and visitors centre was demolished. Hope tourism promoter Brian McKinney was sentimental during the tear down, as his father Barry McKinney had a hand in erecting the building with the Hope Rotary Club in 1980. What will stand in its place along Water Ave. and where visitor services will be located is still to be decided by council.
In an effort to sway voters to elect a BC Liberal government, incumbent candidate Jackie Tegart announced the Liberals would fully fund the rehabilitation of Othello Road to the tune of $6 million should her party form government. The campaign period, which was a little over a month and was conducted during ongoing restrictions on gathering, also saw federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh drop in on a campaign stop with candidate Aaron Sumexheltza in Hope. Yet even with the Oct. 25 election day come and gone and all in-person votes counted, the Fraser-Nicola riding was too close to call with Tegart holding a 385-vote lead over Sumexeheltza as of Oct. 26.
Family of Jordan Naterer, a 25-year-old who went missing in the Manning Park area in October, initiated a widespread community search following the suspension of official searches. The family fundraised and employed the use of drones, private helicopters, experienced hikers and tracker dogs to search trails in the park. “This is a parent’s worst nightmare,” said mother Josie Naterer. “I am not leaving without my son.”
Hope seniors would have to wait to receive the Fluad flu vaccine, as limited doses of the 65+ vaccine which helps produce more antibodies than the regular vaccine delivered to local pharmacies were used up on the day they were received. A volunteer with Hope-area seniors Sharlene Harrison-Hinds said she was outraged at the shortage. “The most vulnerable and isolated population is actually coming in last place from getting the flu vaccine,” she said.
Over 1,700 pounds of garbage was removed from the Jones Lake area in October. This was the second clean up of the area in a year, with the first one resulting in 6,000 pounds of trash carted away by the Four Wheel Drive Association of BC.
Hope’s service provider for people who are homeless, the Hope and Area Transition Society, said due to COVID-19 space constraints at the local shelter there would not be additional space to house those sheltering from extreme weather. Normally from November to March an additional 10 to 15 spaces, mats in a common area, are laid out at night for people coming in from the cold weather. BC Housing and the District of Hope said they were working on a solution.
The Fraser Cascade school district reported the first COVID-19 exposure in the district at Hope Secondary School. The school would go on to have four exposures over the course of late 2020.
Bruce Becker moved on from his role as Silver Creek Elementary School principal, taking over the same role at Coquihalla Elementary School. Two longtime Hope area educators were set to retire by the end of the year – Peter Flynn and Monique Gratrix.
Early November saw marathon public hearings into a proposed 52-unit development of supportive housing, to be built along Old Hope Princeton Way by BC Housing. Residents and business owners as well as healthcare and service providers came out to voice their support and opposition to the plans.
Opposition to the housing agency’s plans included fears that the 52 units would be filled by people in need from other communities, the pressure on services this development would bring, as well as concerns around the designation of the space as ‘low barrier’ allowing residents to consume substances in their homes. Local business owners were concerned about putting such a development on prime real estate, and two adjacent businesses described issues they were already having with aggressive panhandling, break ins and refuse around the area.
Supporters referenced the efficacy of housing first as a response to homelessness, the need in the community and the potential benefits to the district including potentially fewer encampments. Hope’s faith leaders united in support of the building, as the Hope Ministerial Committee. “Will the future look back at this time and define the residents of Hope as people who chose their own comfort and fears over choosing to help people who need it?” the committee wrote. “Or will they see that we were able to make decisions which brought healing to our community in tangible ways?” Leaders in the healthcare space in Hope also expressed their support for the building, adding that healthcare outcomes would only improve if people have a safe home to go back to following healthcare interventions.
In a Nov. 23 vote, Hope’s council voted 4-to-1 against the rezoning request which would have paved the way for the building of supportive housing in the community. Councillors Bob Erickson and Craig Traun voiced opposition to the development being low barrier, and all those who voted in opposition spoke of the pressure the development would put on local healthcare, policing and other services. The lone vote of support came from councillor Scott Medlock, who referenced the experts and the research standing behind supportive housing and the concept of housing first. “Do you honestly believe that the problem would go away and solve itself ? Do you actually think that the decision that you’re making is going to improve the community, in some way?” Medlock challenged fellow councillors following the vote. Council’s decision also resulted in the House of Hope, the community’s only emergency shelter, having to stop operating on the 650 Old Hope Princeton Way property as of April 1.
After a longer than normal wait, Jackie Tegart was announced as the winner of the Fraser-Nicola seat following a fall snap election. It took time to count the mail-in ballots, a record number of which were sent in across the province, and Tegart took the riding with a slim margin of 282 votes ahead of NDP candidate Aaron Sumexheltza.
Hope was experiencing a quiet economic boom as a result of the ongoing Trans Mountain Expansion Project’s work in the section of the twinning project running down the Coquihalla Highway through Hope and Laidlaw. With hotels and other businesses servicing the around 100 workers active in the region on the project this fall, another 350 were set to be housed at a worker camp in Laidlaw as of the end of 2020.
Hope’s first craft brewery – Mountainview Brewing Co. – opened its doors this November at 390 Old Hope Princeton Way. Four brews were on tap as of the soft opening Nov. 24. The First Blood Orange, a nod to the film franchise that put Hope on the map, was becoming a fast favourite at the brewery and other establishments carrying the locally produced wheat ale.
The brewing co. wasn’t the only new establishment to open their doors this fall – Hope got its first indoor skateboard park this December thanks to many hands organized by “Hippie Mike” Faux. The crew went from signing a lease to building up the park in the old Rona building from scratch in record time, with a $10,000 donation from Linda Kaji, $10,000 in merchandise sales in support, supplies from Jamie Davis Towing and many more. “Mike and I feel that his spirit is still here, and it’s just really good energy,” Linda said, referencing her late son Paul, a skateboarder who passed away three years ago. A mural depicting him skateboarding, surrounded by Hope mountains, adorns one of the skate park walls.
Dec. 4 saw dozens of vehicles and upwards of 50 or more people walk in protest against council’s decision to veto BC Housing’s plans for supportive housing in Hope.
Alan Mogielka, who has lived outside including at camps along local riverways, was on his bike as the protesters walked from downtown Hope to the location of the axed housing project at 650 Old Hope Princeton Way. “I’ve lived outside a lot, to have a place, you just can’t explain it. It’s home,” he said. Without a place to call home, Mogielka said being down and depressed is a constant feeling, “you’re not having a shower, you’re struggling to eat.”
The worst vandalism to a chainsaw carving that the town of Hope has seen occurred in December, with half of a soon-to-be-installed carving in honour of the Young family sawed off and carted away from Canyon Cable’s property.
The demolition of the historic 1916 Station House became a concrete reality this December, with Mayor Peter Robb stating the building would be taken down in early 2021.
This news prompted a backlash from those who wanted to preserve Hope’s second oldest building. Sharon Blythe recalled the late 1980s when the whole town went all in on efforts to move the station house the first time, to avoid it being demolished by CN Rail, and Echo Johnson penned a first-person poem from the perspective of the building and the history it had seen.
“My platform was very busy. Boxes, containers and other items, incoming and outgoing. Royalty received first as a princess, then as our reigning Queen Elizabeth. How proud to have royalty on my platform,” she wrote.
Putting together the news this year were reporters Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock and Barry Stewart as well as reporters from across the Eastern Fraser Valley and Black Press Media. We had help from the ever-diligent proof reader and filler-in of community knowledge Pattie Desjardins, our supportive editor with the creative flair Ken Goudswaard and great leadership from publisher Carly Ferguson.
Our contributors made our paper shine, including all of the prolific letter writers and photographers, as well as those who submitted news tips. Hats off to you for making The Hope Standard a true community paper.