New hospital opens
The month began with the soft opening of the North Island Hospital Comox Valley Campus on Oct. 1, following a transition of patients and acute care services from St. Joseph’s General Hospital. The $334-million building had been under construction for a few years and replaced St. Joseph’s as the community’s primary healthcare facility.
Three weeks later, An official farewell ceremony was held at St. Joseph’s to honour the faith-based facility’s 104-year history in the Comox Valley. More than 100 people attended the open house.
Cannabis dispensary draws controversy
Local headlines in October were dominated by multiple incidents surrounding Leaf Compassion, a new medical cannabis dispensary in downtown Courtenay. After opening without a business licence on Oct. 1, the dispensary was raided twice by Comox Valley RCMP for “contravening the Controlled Drug and Substances Act” by selling marijuana from a storefront.
The store’s owner, Kyle Cheyne, went on the offensive after the dispensary’s second raid. He vowed he would continue to reopen the store and provide people with safe access to medical cannabis, despite the RCMP’s actions.
After the second raid, Cheyne made a post on the company’s Facebook page that urged residents to contact Courtenay City Hall about the issue.
Following that plea, Courtenay mayor Larry Jangula received a death threat via phone message and City Hall staff claimed to receive several angry emails.
Courtenay council eventually denied Leaf Compassion a business licence in November.
North Courtenay Connector completed
Alongside the new hospital, another civic construction project that saw completion in October was the North Courtenay Connector, which opened on Oct. 20. The new bridge replaced the temporary one-lane crossing of the Tsolum River, located on Dove Creek Road.
The $15-million project included a 700-meter-long roadway that connects Headquarter and Piercy roads north of Dove Creek Road, and makes a continuous route between Vanier Drive and Condensory Road.
CVRD approves water treatment project
October was a busy month for local politics. The month saw the approval for the go-ahead of the Comox Valley Regional District’s $110-million water treatment project. The CVRD’s water committee approved the revised scope, schedule, and cost of the project on Oct. 17.
The new infrastructure — which is expected to be completed in 2021 or 2022 — will completely rehaul the CVRD’s drinking water system for 45,000 people in Courtenay, Comox, and surrounding areas.
The initiative is expected to improve the Valley’s quality of drinking water, bring it up to provincial standards, and reduce the number of boil-water-advisories issued by the CVRD.
Pump Station project shelved
Another political project that made the news in October was the Comox No. 2 Pump Station, which was shelved by the CVRD Sewage Commission on Oct. 24. The controversial project had been in the works for a few years and would be needed for the replacement of a deteriorating section of the CVRD’s sewerage system.
However, consultants hired last year by the CVRD found “three red flags” with the project during the pre-implementation phase. With these issues in mind, members of the Sewage Commission voted unanimously to put the project on hold for at least a year while other options are explored.
Abbeyfield House gifted to John Howard Society
Near the end of October, Courtenay’s Abbeyfield House was gifted to the John Howard Society. The semi-independent retirement home operated in Courtenay for two decades before closing earlier this fall.
The board of the 10-bedroom, non-profit retirement home had announced in July that it was closing its doors because the facility was not compliant with B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act. Ten Abbeyfield tenants had to find alternative housing following its closure.
John Howard Society North Island executive director Wendy Richardson called the facility “a completely perfect fit” for her organization.
High scoring soccer
The Comox Valley United Div. 1 men’s team came from 4-1 down with less than 15 minutes to go to salvage a point against Westcastle United on Oct. 14. Three late goals from United were enough to bring the score to 4-4 and earn the team a much-needed draw.
The Comox Valley Bantam Raiders finished October undefeated (10-0) for the regular season. After dominating their opponents in September and October, the Raiders eventually fell in their first playoff game against the Victoria Spartans on Nov. 5.