The ever-evolving responses and restrictions for battling the COVID-19 virus continued into April as all students from Grade 4 and up were mandated to begin wearing masks in school, upon return from their spring break holidays.
School District 71 made the move in accordance with new provincial health orders announced at the end of March, in response to a spike in COVID cases.
Students in the Comox Valley got a chance to test a range of skills in the spring, with many posting strong showings at the regional Skills Canada BC competition.
The North Island regional competition featured more than 450 competitors from grades 6 to 12, representing more than a dozen schools in a dozen different events, including carpentry, culinary, electronics, welding, media animation and TV/video production.
Comox Valley district students showed impressive finishes, earning gold medal placement in 10 of the 12 events.
City’s first nuisance property
One month after 19 people were arrested at a raid at 1655 20th St. in Courtenay, council officially declared the notorious rental home a nuisance property and gave landlord Amandio Santos a list of obligations.
According to a report, the city has spent more than 1,000 hours — not including time invested by police — dealing with compliance issues at 1655 20th. The Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw authorizes staff to charge for municipal services, including policing required to abate nuisance activities. Recoverable costs range from $38 an hour for parking control to $92 an hour for the RCMP inspector.
By summer, Santos had put the house up for sale. A ‘sold’ sign was posted on the property in October.
5th St. Bridge Project begins
The 5th Street Bridge facelift began in April. The $6.5-million project involves structural improvements, new coating to repair and prevent corrosion, and deck repairs. The project, which was originally scheduled to take six months, has been plagued with delays and is now on pace for completion in January 2022.
Robber gets 500+ days in jail
Michael D.R. Heatley, who robbed the Ryan Road 7-Eleven a year earlier, was sentenced to 573 days in jail, along with a two-year probation term and a lifetime firearms ban. On April 3, 2020, at approximately 3:30 a.m., Heatley entered the 7-Eleven wearing a hoodie and bandanna around his face. He demanded all the money behind the counter, then left and was last seen running toward Headquarters Road. He was arrested later in the month.
$368M cocaine seizure
A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, contributed to the seizure of approximately three tonnes of cocaine worth more than $293 million USD ($368 million CND) in March.
The seizure was part of Op Caribbe – Canada’s participation in U.S.-led enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Multiple stabbings in Comox
Three youths were taken to hospital after suffering stab wounds at a bush party in Comox Saturday, April 17. The party was in a well-known sandpit area just north of Highland School. Three teens were injured, suffering serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Comox Valley RCMP had a suspect in custody within 24 hours of the incident.
Historic name change
Danita Bilozaze of the Comox Valley became the first Canadian to have her official government documents changed to reflect her proper family name, in accordance with a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada call to action.
No. 17 (of 94 calls to action) calls upon all levels of government to enable residential school survivors and their families to reclaim names changed by the residential school system by waiving administrative costs for a period of five years for the name-change process and the revision of official identity documents, such as birth certificates, passports, driver’s licences, health cards, status cards and social insurance numbers.
Bilozaze had discovered that her great grandfather’s surname was changed from Bilozaze to Loth by the Canadian government.
Ancient turtle discovery
Russ Ball discovered an 80-million-year-old sea turtle while fossil hunting along the banks of the Puntledge River. The discovery itself was made in January, but it took some time for the Vancouver Island Paleontological Society to confirm it and for teams to come up to extract the fossil. The extraction took place in April.
2021 Year in ReviewComox Valley