2020 Year in Review: October

  • Dec. 29, 2020 1:30 p.m.
Comox Valley newcomer Rick Larose, who recently moved to the area from Winnipeg, was up at the break of dawn Saturday to try his luck fly fishing for coho at Miracle Beach. Photo by Vic MarchielComox Valley newcomer Rick Larose, who recently moved to the area from Winnipeg, was up at the break of dawn Saturday to try his luck fly fishing for coho at Miracle Beach. Photo by Vic Marchiel
Search and Rescue personnel await the helicopter to extract some injured mountaineers. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Search and RescueSearch and Rescue personnel await the helicopter to extract some injured mountaineers. Photo courtesy Comox Valley Search and Rescue
Sean Hayes displays the trophy and pro circuit plaque after winning Strongman Nationals in Quebec City. At left is his girlfriend, Kayla Russman-Walberg. Photo suppliedSean Hayes displays the trophy and pro circuit plaque after winning Strongman Nationals in Quebec City. At left is his girlfriend, Kayla Russman-Walberg. Photo supplied
One lane on the Condensory Bridge remained closed to traffic until early December during utility installation. Scott Stanfield photoOne lane on the Condensory Bridge remained closed to traffic until early December during utility installation. Scott Stanfield photo
B.C. Premier-elect John Horgan and returning Courtenay-Comox NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard, seen on the campaign trail together in Courtenay. Leonard held on to her seat. Photo by Riel McGuireB.C. Premier-elect John Horgan and returning Courtenay-Comox NDP MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard, seen on the campaign trail together in Courtenay. Leonard held on to her seat. Photo by Riel McGuire
Morrison Creek Streamkeepers put in an improved interpretive sign in Puntledge Park. Photo suppliedMorrison Creek Streamkeepers put in an improved interpretive sign in Puntledge Park. Photo supplied
Video footage shows a suspect breaking into the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Image suppliedVideo footage shows a suspect breaking into the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Image supplied
Mayor Bob Wells, left, Courtenay Legion president Gary Flath and Branch #17 service officer Bill Webb launched the annual Poppy Campaign. Scott Stanfield photoMayor Bob Wells, left, Courtenay Legion president Gary Flath and Branch #17 service officer Bill Webb launched the annual Poppy Campaign. Scott Stanfield photo
A group gathered for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza as part of an art project looking at the OD crisis. Scott Stanfield photoA group gathered for a guided story walk at the Comox Valley Art Gallery plaza as part of an art project looking at the OD crisis. Scott Stanfield photo
The guest of honour, Earl Naswell himself, at the Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner on Dec. 25, 2019 at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay. Photo by Terry FarrellThe guest of honour, Earl Naswell himself, at the Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner on Dec. 25, 2019 at the Florence Filberg Centre in Courtenay. Photo by Terry Farrell

BLM message response

A Grade 9 Comox Valley student was motivated to take action by a racial slur she overheard and in block letters wrote ‘Black Lives Matter’ in chalk on her driveway. However, someone took offence at her statement, as a neighbour banged on the family’s door on a Sunday morning to say the chalk writing was really offensive. The neighbour later returned at which point the family contacted the police. “We have to be prepared for backlash,” the girl’s mom told her.

Ferry out

Denman Island residents were stuck while the Baynes Sound Connector ferry connecting Denman to Vancouver Island had sailings cancelled for a day due to mechanical difficulties. BC Ferries later confirmed the issue involved the hydraulic system. A water taxi service shuttled between the Fanny Bay and Denman Island government docks to transport people, pets and bicycles. A shuttle bus was also set up between Fanny Bay and Courtenay.

Christmas dinner founder passes

The namesake for a large community Christmas dinner passed away on Oct. 6. Earl Naswell died at Cumberland Lodge at the age of 89. In 1982, he started going door to door to local businesses to get support for a Christmas dinner for himself and friends who were “a bit down on their luck.” Every year since, the Earl Naswell Community Christmas Dinner has taken place.

Distance ed boom

School District 71 saw an uptick in distance learning program admission in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some growth was from local students choosing to study remotely, many signed up from outside the district. “They’re actually from all over the world. Look at a map and start putting tacks on every country,” assistant superintendent Geoff Manning told school trustees. In all, almost 1,000 new students had signed up with the district’s program.

CVRD takes landlord to court

The Comox Valley Regional District initiated legal action against a landlord whose rental properties have brought numerous complaints in various municipalities. The district said it was pursuing enforcement and compliance with all applicable bylaws against Amandio Santos concerning two properties in Fanny Bay and one in Black Creek. This followed an appeal by a delegation from Fanny Bay in the summer. Santos did not comment on the situation at press time.

Dead fish at the Puntledge

While fishing, a local man came across hundreds of dead salmon smolt near the Condensory Bridge on the Puntledge River. He and others also noticed a strange, caustic smell in the area. He contacted local, provincial and federal government officials, who came to inspect the case, but they could not provide any explanations as of press time.

NDP holds both local MLA seats

Even though it took a while to count all the votes, the NDP’s Ronna-Rae Leonard easily won the Courtenay-Comox race in the Oct. 24 provincial election. She got in front of her two competitors with a big lead early and held on until the final count. Her colleague, Josie Osborne, whose electoral district includes Cumberland and the area south of Courtenay, also easily won a seat. Osborne held off four other competitors to replace MLA Scott Fraser, who did not run. The two local wins helped Premier John Horgan form a majority government.

Warming Centre extension

Courtenay council approved a one-year lease extension and continued in-kind support for the Connect Warming Centre on Cliffe Avenue. The centre has provided services to vulnerable people who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless since its opening in January.

BUSINESS

New airport CEO

Former 19 Wing Commander Mike Atkins was picked as the incoming chief executive officer of the Comox Valley Airport. The Comox Valley Airport Commission (CVAC) announced he was to take over from Alex Robertson, who had been acting CEO since Fred Bigelow’s departure for medical leave in late 2019. The airport also expected some positive developments, such as increased flight service, in the last quarter of what has been a difficult year for the sector.

ARTS

Film fest goes virtual

The World Community Film Festival resumed its film series online with The Great Disconnect, a one-hour film available to stream, along with a pre-recorded panel discussion. “Even before COVID-19 emerged, many of us were isolating ourselves from one another, and because of this, facing another kind of health crisis that affects all of us,” said Janet Fairbanks, World Community board member. “This timely documentary invites us to reflect on the importance of relationships we have with those around us.”

SPORTS

Strongman turns pro

Strongman Sean Hayes entered the professional ranks by winning a competition in Quebec City. The Courtenay resident won the heavyweight division at Strongman Nationals, finishing well ahead of his more than 20 opponents. Hayes placed top three in each of six events. “The six events basically ran back-to-back-to-back, jumping right into the next without recovery or warm-up time,” said Hayes. As a result of the victory, he has been invited to the Professional Strongman Circuit for 2021 — a first for B.C. athletes on the circuit.

Comox ValleyYear in Review