2020 Year In Review: May

A pair of Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jets take off from Kamloops Airport on Tuesday morning. It marked the first time the iconic red ad white jets have been airborne since the May 17 crash in Kamloops that claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injured the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall. The rest of the squadron’s planes will be flown to home base in Moose Jaw later this month. Dave Eagles/KTWA pair of Canadian Forces Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor jets take off from Kamloops Airport on Tuesday morning. It marked the first time the iconic red ad white jets have been airborne since the May 17 crash in Kamloops that claimed the life of Capt. Jennifer Casey and injured the pilot, Capt. Richard MacDougall. The rest of the squadron’s planes will be flown to home base in Moose Jaw later this month. Dave Eagles/KTW
Comox Valley Farmers Market decided to go virtual. Black Press file photoComox Valley Farmers Market decided to go virtual. Black Press file photo
Former Courtenay fire chief and member of the City of Courtenay Heritage Commission Lawrence Burns has been recognized by Heritage BC. Photo: McKinnon PhotographyFormer Courtenay fire chief and member of the City of Courtenay Heritage Commission Lawrence Burns has been recognized by Heritage BC. Photo: McKinnon Photography

Comox youngster Chase Petersen got a huge birthday surprise. The eight-year-old received a fly-by courtesy of 442 Squadron along with RCMP, Comox Fire Rescue and more than 100 vehicles as friends, family members and teachers from Chase’s school – Brooklyn Elementary – drove past a tent that had been set up, giving the guest of honour a front-row curbside seat. Chase was diagnosed with leukemia in February, and the community rallied together to fully celebrate him for the day.

Facing charges

A Comox Valley man is facing more than 25 criminal charges after a lengthy invention by the Comox Valley RCMP Street Crimes Unit. Michael Leighton, 31, is facing 27 criminal charges, including break and enter, possession of stolen property, possession of an identification document, mischief under $5,000, possession break and enter tools, trafficking in property obtained by crime and possession of a controlled substance. In December 2019, thieves were busy targeting storage lockers in condo building when a mandolin, a valuable family heirloom, was stolen.

Hopeful homes

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North applied for rezoning to construct a multi-residential development on Piercy Avenue. The non-profit hopes to build a trio of four-unit townhouses. The property was sold in September of last year for $445,000.

Snowbirds crash

Shock waves were felt throughout the Comox Valley when news broke of a fatal Canadian Forces Snowbirds crash in Kamloops. Moments after taking off from the Kamloops Airport, the CT-114 Tutor piloted by Capt. Richard McDougall, with Capt. Jenn Casey aboard veered skyward before nose-diving to the ground. McDougall and Casey ejected from the plane just before impact. McDougall suffered serious injuries and Casey died. The team was heading to Comox, from where it was to begin its trip back to its home base in Moose Jaw, Sask. The team was on the tail end of its cross-country flight, dubbed Operation Inspiration – a salute to Canadians who were doing their part to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Distinguished service

Lawrence Burns – the city’s former fire chief who serves as chair of the Heritage Advisory Commission – has received the Heritage BC’s Award of Recognition in the Distinguished Service category this year for his life-long volunteer commitment to Courtenay’s heritage conservation. The annual award ceremony has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hornby accident

One man was dead following a boating accident off Hornby Island on May 12. Around 5 p.m., the Comox Valley RCMP was called to the area to assist with a boating incident on nearby water. Spokeswoman Const. Monica Terragni noted there was nothing to indicate any criminality was involved with the death. According to the Hornby Island Fire Rescue, firefighters were dispatched to tend to a patient with hypothermia as a result of an overturned boat. While en route, they received word of a second patient, possibly deceased. According to Hornby Island Fire Rescue, they believe the boat capsized and one man was unable to stay afloat without a personal flotation device. The other boater was able to drag him to Norris Rock where he was able to right the boat and row it to Hornby to get help.

New beds

Seniors in the Comox Valley were getting more access to long-term care. Island Health and the Province announced funding to cover 20 new beds for the region on May 14. Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a news release that the announcement helps ensure seniors will be supported and treated with dignity and is a step toward providing better care for seniors in the Comox Valley.

Award of Merit

The British Columbia Historical Federation named Michelle Willard, formerly of the Cumberland Museum and Archives, and Kevin McPhedran of the Village of Cumberland as recipients of a 2019 Award of Merit. The museum partnered with the Village to create an interpretive sign to commemorate the once vibrant and significant Japanese-Canadian community in Cumberland that was forcibly removed from the West Coast during internment in the Second World War. The Award of Merit is given to groups or individuals who have made a significant contribution to the study or promotion of British Columbia history. The award may be for an individual project or for an activity over time.

Dementia village

Island Health signed a project development agreement with Providence Living to build and operate a 156-bed dementia village in the Comox Valley. The new facility will be built on the site of the existing long-term care home – The Views – and the former St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Comox. The dementia village will feature 148 publicly-funded long-term care beds and eight publicly-funded respite beds. Once complete, the village will replace the existing beds at The Views long-term care home, which is on the existing site.


Sean Ferguson officially took over Runge’s European Deli, ensuring the longtime Courtenay business would stay in the family. He wanted to ensure not only that it stays within the family, but also that the uniqueness and experience in product knowledge stay with the store; he plans on eventually going to Europe to source products that can only be acquired there. He is also aiming to have an online presence.

Silver anniversaries

Atlas Cafe celebrated its 25th anniversary. Co-owner Sandra Viney said the response to their return after COVID-19 has been one of overwhelming support, as evidenced by a busy Mother’s Day service.

Mudsharks Coffee Bar marked 25 years on May 6. Owner Darryl Kotyk closed for a bit of time during the initial COVID-19 shutdown and used the time to undertake renovations to the premises at 4th and Cliffe, next door to Gladstone Brewing Company.

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