2020 Year In Review: February

The seventh annual Spirit Bear Swim was held on Family Day in Royston. Scott Stanfield photoThe seventh annual Spirit Bear Swim was held on Family Day in Royston. Scott Stanfield photo
The sixth annual Comox Valley Women’s Memorial March was held Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay. The procession marched around the park, crossed the 5th Street Bridge to Cliffe Avenue, and returned to Simms. Scott Stanfield photoThe sixth annual Comox Valley Women’s Memorial March was held Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay. The procession marched around the park, crossed the 5th Street Bridge to Cliffe Avenue, and returned to Simms. Scott Stanfield photo
The sixth annual Comox Valley Women’s Memorial March was held Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay. The procession marched around the park, crossed the 5th Street Bridge to Cliffe Avenue, and returned to Simms. Scott Stanfield photoThe sixth annual Comox Valley Women’s Memorial March was held Friday at Simms Park in Courtenay. The procession marched around the park, crossed the 5th Street Bridge to Cliffe Avenue, and returned to Simms. Scott Stanfield photo
North Island College chemistry instructor Darren George entertains visiting high school students with the ever-popular Magic of Chemistry demonstration, Thursday at an open house at the Courtenay campus. Scott Stanfield photoNorth Island College chemistry instructor Darren George entertains visiting high school students with the ever-popular Magic of Chemistry demonstration, Thursday at an open house at the Courtenay campus. Scott Stanfield photo
Mattias Beck, 15, receives a special Star Wars-themed escort en route to his flight last weekend to Disney World from the Comox Valley Airport. Video still/VanIsle DronesMattias Beck, 15, receives a special Star Wars-themed escort en route to his flight last weekend to Disney World from the Comox Valley Airport. Video still/VanIsle Drones
Students at Brooklyn Elementary got into the spirit of Pink Shirt Day in a big way in 2019. Local schools are participating in this year's Pink Shirt Day as well. Photo supplied.
The Coldest Night of the Year Walk in the Comox Valley surpassed its fundraising goal this year. Scott Stanfield photoThe Coldest Night of the Year Walk in the Comox Valley surpassed its fundraising goal this year. Scott Stanfield photo
Rob Saywell, of Saywell Developments, scrubs the fuselage of the CF-101 Voodoo. The iconic plane that sits at the entrance to 19 Wing Comox underwent an extensive facelift in 2020. Photo by Steve Perry.Rob Saywell, of Saywell Developments, scrubs the fuselage of the CF-101 Voodoo. The iconic plane that sits at the entrance to 19 Wing Comox underwent an extensive facelift in 2020. Photo by Steve Perry.

Search for missing man

A public plea was posted Feb. 1 by Michelle Root, seeking any information into the whereabouts of her husband, 51-year-old Michael Gazetas, who was last seen Jan. 31. An extensive air and ground search, covering more than 16,000 square kilometres, was conducted by RCMP, and local search and rescue teams, to no avail. Searches were conducted using powerboats, kayaks, fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, with 70,000 GoPro photos taken from the aerial searches.

Gazetas remains missing.

No cantilevers

Courtenay council opted not to include cantilevers in the final design of the 5th Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

The three-metre wide cantilevers were intended to provide more space and to prevent cyclists from sharing the road with vehicles. They would have added about $2 million to the repair bill and two months to a six-month construction period.

The plan for cantilevers drew substantial opposition from downtown merchants.

New ferry route

BC Ferries launched a pilot offering direct service, on select days, between Blubber Bay terminal on Texada Island and Little River terminal in Comox. Effective Feb. 19, every Wednesday and Saturday, the first sailing on the Powell River – Comox route to leave Westview terminal was to make a stop at Blubber Bay to load a maximum of 10 standard vehicles, prior to continuing on to Comox.

On the last sailing leaving Comox, Texada-bound customers will have an opportunity to sail directly to Blubber Bay.

Overdose prevention service shutting down

AIDS Vancouver Island in Courtenay advised the public its overdose prevention service (OPS) would cease because it lost its contract with Island Health. The contract at AVI was ultimately extended until the summer, before the service was moved to an England Avenue location.

Recycling depots closing

The board for Comox Strathcona Waste Management voted to close two unstaffed recycling depots in the Comox Valley. The site at Courtenay Country Market was pegged for a July 1 permanent closure, with the Canex location slated to close in July of 2021.

L’Arche community stunned

The local L’Arche community was left reeling in the wake of a report that determined L’Arche founder Jean Vanier sexually abused six women, between 1975 and 1990.

“Everybody is in shock, and actually devastated,” said L’Arche Comox Valley executive director Christine Monier. “The revealings are credible and they reveal a side of him that nobody knew about.

“There’s a sense of sadness, and betrayal here. It just hurts. It’s not acceptable. It was no more acceptable 50 years ago than [it is] today.”

The inquiry, which was commissioned by L’Arche and conducted by an independent group (GCPS Consulting), determined Vanier had engaged in sexual relations with the six adult, non-disabled women who had approached the revered religious leader for spiritual direction.

RELATED: Canadian L’Arche community shocked by inquiry findings

The inquiry was started in April of 2019, one month before the 90-year-old Vanier’s death.

Cold night, warm hearts

The annual Coldest Night of the Year event attracted hundreds of walkers who helped raise money for the Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society and the Comox Valley Transition Society.

The event is part of a nationwide initiative to raise money for charities that serve hungry, homeless and hurting people. This year’s goal was $75,000, but before the walk began, donors had already contributed more than $80,000. The final tally was in excess of $13,000. The team from St. George’s led the way by raising $7,585.

More COVID cases in B.C.

By the end of February, B.C. had identified seven cases of COVID-19, all of them international travel-related. At the end of February, Canada had 27 cases, and no deaths.

BUSINESS

Golden spirits

The 2020 Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition results were in, and a couple of local distilleries did themselves proud.

Both Wayward Distillery in Courtenay and Shelter Point Distillery, just north of Oyster River, came home with numerous awards, including some gold medals.

The Shelter Point Single Malt was a star of the show, winning a gold medal, along with the Best In Class distinction – one of three Shelter Point whiskies to earn gold medals in the Single Malt division.

The Shelter Point Old Vines Foch Reserve and Shelter Point Smoke Point also won Single Malt gold medals.

Wayward Distillery also fared well.

The Drunken Hive Rum earned a gold medal, with distinction in the Rum category.

Comox ValleyYear in Review

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