In January, the government announced funding for two additional residential hospice beds for the Comox Valley, at which time St. Joseph’s Hospital president/CEO Jane Murphy said they would be a welcome addition to the four beds already established at the hospital.
Those comments set off a heated community debate as to whether a faith-based institution such as St. Joseph’s (owned by the Catholic church) should have control over hospice beds in the Comox Valley. At the centre of the debate was the Medical Assistance in Dying issue, of which St. Joe’s does not endorse, nor comply with the MAiD legislation.
The issue remained a hot-button topic throughout the Valley for much of the first half of 2017, until June, when Island Health made a decision to move hospice off St. Joe’s property.
Prad not guilty
One of the most followed Comox Valley trials of 2016 came to a conclusion in February when provincial court Judge Peter Doherty told a packed courtroom that Timothy Prad had been found not guilty of all charges in relation to a hit-and-run resulting in the death of Comox Valley teacher Paul Bally.
Bally had been cycling along Highway 19A on a rainy night in December of 2014 when he was struck by a vehicle and thrown into the ditch.
“Mr. Prad did not know that he hit Mr. Bally, nor is there any reason to suspect,” Doherty said in his verdict. “I am not persuaded by leaving the scene of the accident he did so with the intent to escape criminal and civil liability.”
Prad testified that he thought he hit a deer, and that he did stop the vehicle to look, but could not see anything.
St. Joseph’s announced plans for a three-way partnership between itself, Glacier View Lodge and Providence Health Care of Vancouver to “strengthen seniors’ care and hospice services in the Comox Valley.”
In what was described as a drug deal gone bad, Douglas Waterfield pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges on Feb. 28.
Waterfield was arrested last February and originally charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and uttering threats after he stabbed Larry Pearn in his vehicle outside Supreme Convenience on Lake Trail Road. Waterfield met Pearn in his vehicle outside the store in an attempt to purchase heroin from him. Waterfield, who did not have any money, produced a black-handed knife and “engaged in a brief struggle” with Pearn, whom he eventually stabbed in the upper left front abdomen.
The charges were increased to murder when Pearn died of his injuries, 10 days after the incident. That charge was changed to manslaughter, following a preliminary hearing in September of 2016.
It was a bittersweet end of the season for the North Island Rage U-13 lacrosse team. The Rage qualified for the provincial lacrosse championship, looking to become only the second North Island squad ever to win a provincial field lacrosse title. (The U-16 squad won in 2013.)
The Rage entered the tournament as the top seed, but the tournament itself never took place, as inclement weather forced the closure of the fields in Victoria.
XC ski medals
The Strathcona Nordics junior race team was well represented at the 2017 Haywood NorAm Cross Country Skiing Championships, winning numerous medals, including one Western Canadian individual gold.
Gabe Gledhill of Cumberland won gold in the 1 km skate sprint, while Aiden Noble of Courtenay won a silver in the juvenile boys’ category at the same distance.
Gledhill also earned a bronze in the 7.5km race.
Ross Lamon of Comox and Tallon Noble of Courtenay each won silver medals in their respective categories for the 1.2 km sprint.
Local skiers also dominated in the inter-provincial relay races on the final day of competition, with many additional medals collected.
Mt. Washington expands
Mount Washington Alpine Resort announced the opening of an additional 40-acres of adventure skiing terrain.
“Guests can now experience a backcountry-like adventure within the patrolled boundaries of the Resort,” said general manager Peter Gibson. “This … not only opens up an additional 40 acres to our ski-able area, it also provides access to the best expert-level glade and bowl skiing the resort has to offer – not to mention the spectacular views!”
The new terrain is located within The Outback area on the backside of the mountain. The two areas include the North Bowl to adjacent glades and the northeastern Copper clear-cut. Both areas can be accessed from either the Eagle Express or the Boomerang chairlift. This expert-only terrain is only accessible through open gates; the addition of a cat track on the north side allows guests to hike to the top of the ridge to access the upper terrain.
• The Comox Valley Regional District announced that former chief administrative officer of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, Russell Dyson, had accepted the same position with the CVRD, effective in May, upon the retirement of Debra Oakman.