2017 Comox Valley Year In Review: January

Ronna-Rae wins NDP candidacy; MusicFest headliners announced

More teachers for BC

The province and B.C. Teachers Federation announced an interim settlement to their long-running dispute over staffing levels – a $50 million fund to hire up to 1,100 teachers for the current school year, including money for 17 new instructor positions in the Comox Valley. This move caused a teacher shortage in most of the province, though that trend was bucked in the Comox Valley. Comox District Teachers’ Association president Nick Moore attributed that to the prospect of living and working in the Comox Valley.

“Everyone wants to come live here,” he said. “This is the once-in-a-career opportunity to move to the place you want to move to.”

Ronna-Rae Leonard defeated two others on the first ballot to become the NDP candidate for the Courtenay-Comox riding in the upcoming provincial election.

Ronna-Rae named NDP candidate

2017 was a memorable year for local politician Ronna-Rae Leonard, and it all started in January, with a first-ballot victory over hopefuls Gillian Anderson and Kiyoshi Kosky at the Jan. 14 NDP constituency nomination convention, for the Courtenay-Comox riding. Her next victory would not be as easy.

Ernie Sellentin was named the Green Party candidate for the Courtenay-Comox riding.

Cross-Canada run

Brad Firth, 46, known as Caribou Legs, completed a six-month, cross-Canada run by covering the length of Vancouver Island in January. His 7,400 km, mostly unsupported run gave Firth an opportunity to raise awareness and continue conversations on not only missing and murdered aboriginal women, but also on domestic violence.

A&E

A new publishing company opened for business in the Comox Valley in 2017 – Watershed Sentinel Books. WS Books is the publishing arm of the Watershed Sentinel Education Society. Among its highlights in its first year was working with well-known B.C. commentator and activist Rafe Mair on his final publication before his death in October.

Politically Incorrect: How Canada Lost Its Way and the Simple Path Home — hit the shelves in November, just four weeks after Mair’s death.

“It was actually just fun, it wasn’t work at all,” said Delores Broten, editor at the Comox-based Watershed Sentinel Books. “He was a marvellous man, and had a great sense of humour. Quite a character, too. When we were editing, we’d look at things and say, ‘Well, this isn’t exactly the world’s most proper English, but perhaps we should let it go as a ‘Rafeism.’ ”

MusicFest headliners

MusicFest made its first headliner announcement for the 2017 festival, introducing Emmylou Harris as a returnee performer, having also headlined the 2012 festival.

Legendary Canadian folk singer Bruce Cockburn was named a headliner for Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo supplied by Kevinkellyphotography.com

MusicFest executive producer Dog Cox said that while it’s unusual to have a headliner return to the event, “As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of the most important people in the history of Americana music, so really… she can come back any time she wants to.”

Two weeks later, Cox doubled down with doubling up, announcing Canadian superstar Bruce Cockburn as another returning headliner. He previously played in 2002.

WinterFest

The 2017 Comox Valley WinterFest turned downtown Courtenay into the biggest “apres ski” around, with live entertainment, special performances, and even a ski jam right in the middle of Sixth Street.

SPORTS

Glacier Green Golf professionals were honoured by the PGA of British Columbia for service to the sport.

Head pro Bill Kelly and assistant pro Brian Wise were named No. 2 and No. 6, respectively. The PGABC announced its top 100 Golf Professionals of 2016.

The annual awards are based on the Professional Development Program Order of Merit, recognizing industry engrossment, volunteerism, tournaments and education.

Kelly was only 10 points back of Talking Rock Golf Course (Chase) head pro Adam Blair for top honour.

BUSINESS

The new year started with new digs for the HMCS Alberni Museum and Memorial (HAMM). Four months after closing its doors in Comox, the museum, specifically dedicated to displaying and preserving the history of Canada’s role in the Second World War, reopened in downtown Courtenay. HAMM’s new location is at 625 Cliffe Ave. in the same building as Tulio’s Restaurant.

 

Ronna-Rae Leonard defeated two others on the first ballot to become the NDP candidate for the Courtenay-Comox riding in the upcoming provincial election.

The 6th Street Rail Jam, part of the WinterFest activities, was a huge success, as the street in the heart of downtown Courtenay was transformed into a terrain park for the night. Photo by Terry Farrell

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