January 2020 started similar to any other year.
Oh, were we ever in for a surprise.
While reports were rolling out of a bad respiratory disease in China, life was status quo in the Comox Valley.
New year’s baby arrives
The first Comox Valley baby of 2020 arrived New Year’s Day.
Pippa Van Oostdam was born at the North Island Hospital Comox Valley campus on Jan. 1 at 9:30 a.m.
Pippa is Aynsley and Antoine Van Oostdam’s first child.
Warming centre approved
The City of Courtenay entered into an agreement with the Comox Valley Transition Society to operate a seasonal warming centre at 685 Cliffe Ave. The Connect Warming Centre was originally slated to remain open until the end of March, and was eventually given a one-year lease expansion (in October) guaranteeing the community’s vulnerable had a warm place to congregate during the daytime.
Petition to close herring fishery
Conservancy Hornby Island initiated a petition to suspend the Pacific herring roe fishery, garnering more than 150,000 signatures.
The petition pointed out that the herring population has dwindled from about 129,500 metric tonnes in 2016 to 85,700 tonnes in 2019, and also claimed the herring fishery is worth little money and produces few jobs.
“There’s no real good story to be told on the herring fishery,” said Ian McAllister, executive director at Pacific Wild. “That’s what makes it almost incomprehensible that DFO is continuing to manage these stocks the same way they’ve managed all the other stocks on the B.C. coast that have resulted in collapse and total shutdown of the commercial fisheries.”
DFO met with Conservancy Hornby Island to hear their concerns about the harvest, but then announced at the end of the month that the fishery would open as planned, with a harvest rate set at 20 per cent. (The 2019-2020 harvest level in the Strait of Georgia was 10,895 tonnes.)
Comox Valley and Courtenay both beat records for single-day snowfall accumulations on Jan. 15, with a snowfall accumulation of 34.8 centimetres – more than 10 centimetres greater than on the same day in 1951 when it snowed 23.4 centimetres.
COVID arrives in B.C.
On Jan. 30, the first presumptive case of coronavirus was identified in B.C. It was Canada’s third case at the time.
• Comox Valley resident Paige Whitehead invented an eco-friendly glow stick powered with bio-luminescence. Dubbed the Nyoka Light Wand, she launched her invention in January.
• Courtenay’s first privately-owned retail cannabis outlet opened in January. La Pachi Premium Cannabis opened its doors at 2270 Cliffe Ave., with a celebration that included an official ribbon-cutting, with Mayor Bob Wells on hand.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
The Australian wildfires struck a chord with the Comox Valley’s arts community, and the result was a fundraising benefit concert, organized by John Mundy, and hosted by the Avalanche Bar & Grill, where Mundy’s band, The Mulligans, were a mainstay.
“It was just devastating looking at what was going on,” Mundy said of the Australia wildfires. The “Funder for Down Under” raised more than $8,000.