Walk Off The Earth

Comox Valley Record Year In Review: JANUARY

Tragedy on the ski hill; threat locks down schools

  • Dec. 25, 2018 6:00 a.m.

The Comox Valley’s first baby of 2018 was definitely on Island time.

Parents Olivia and Patrick Cross hold their new son Nixon, born Jan. 4 in Courtenay. Photo by Erin Haluschak.

Nixon Cross was born at 11:07 p.m. on Jan. 4. Nixon is the third son for Olivia and Patrick Cross, and younger brother to Hunter and Jordan.

Tragedy on Mount Washington

The year started off on a sombre note at Mount Washington Alpine resort, as a snowboarder died on the slopes, Jan. 22.

Stewart Elhorn was found unresponsive in a treed, off-piste (ungroomed area) within the resort’s boundary.

Sheila Rivers, marketing manager for Mount Washington, told The Record the area in which the snowboarder was found is considered “outside the runs that we groom.”

The death came on the heels of a record-breaking 100-centimetre snowfall at the resort, which had closed the ski hill for the weekend.

Elhorn was a 27-year-old logger from Campbell River, and left behind his fiancée and four-year-old-son.

A crowdfunding page set up for his family collected more than $17,000.

Schools locked down

Two students were arrested for uttering threats after all three high schools in the Comox Valley School District (SD71) were shut down for the day, Jan. 25.

A car is turned away from Mark R. Isfeld school Thursday morning in Courtenay, following a threat which prompted the school district to close three high schools in the Valley. Photo by Erin Haluschak

Parents and students received the news that Mark R. Isfeld, G.P. Vanier and Highland Secondary were closed on the advice of the RCMP, due to an indication that the schools were not safe – a notification which was posted on SD71’s website and social media.

“(Police) shared the information with our district staff, and we made the decision for the safety of our students and our staff and parents and family that we would close all three high schools,” explained Mary Lee, communications advisor for SD71.

Including staff, about 3,000 people were affected by the school closures.

Elementary schools within the district implemented a ‘hold and secure’ protocol but continued to operate.

The threat came on the day Grade 12 students at all the high schools were scheduled to write their provincial exams.

Those exams were re-scheduled for the following day.

On the political scene, Comox was dealt a blow with the announcement that its “watchdog” group, the Comox Town Residents’ Association, had officially dissolved.

Throughout the years, the organization participated in the drafting of the Official Community Plan for Comox; campaigned for a town square in the ‘heart’ of Comox; conducted research on pesticides and recommended the town adopt a ban on noxious pesticides for public benefit; became a signatory for the co-management agreement for the Northeast Wildlife Management Area; and hosted all-candidates forums for municipal elections.

They also made presentations on issues such as the Lorne Hotel construction and the new Lazo Road subdivision.

RCMP problems

The B.C. RCMP was officially served in a civil claim by a 20-year member based out of Courtenay, alleging discrimination and harassment.

Cpl. Jill Swann filed the claim in Vancouver against a variety of individuals, but specifically directed many of the claims against her supervisor, Cpl. Roger Collin of the Island District General Investigations Section (IDGIS) of ‘E’ Division.

The suit also named the commanding officer of ‘E’ Division and Comox Valley RCMP Inspector Tim Walton (who left the detachment later in 2018).

The B.C. Supreme Court case alleged discrimination and harassment in reference to her physical appearance, sex and against First Nations people.

Swann, who served as a constable since September 1996, was stationed at the Island District General Investigations Section based out of Courtenay from 2006 to 2016. The case was later settled out of court, with a non-disclosure clause.

Big Foot researcher dies

Dr. John Bindernagel, a renowned biologist and leading Canadian sasquatch researcher who called the Comox Valley home, died in January of 2018.

John Bindernagel always encouraged individuals to share stories or reports of sasquatch encounters with him. Photo submitted.

Bindernagel dedicated much of his life to studying the sasquatch in North America.

In 1988, he and his wife found several sasquatch tracks in good condition on Vancouver Island. He made plaster casts from the tracks, which he noted provided the first physical evidence for the existence of the sasquatch.

ARTS

MusicFest announcement

Walk Off the Earth was announced as the first headliner for Vancouver Island MusicFest.

Walk Off the Earth was announced as the first 2018 Island MusicFest headliner. Photo by Erin Haluschak

The hugely popular Canadian band first appeared at MusicFest five years earlier and executive producer Doug Cox said he had been inundated with requests for their return ever since.

“We have had more requests to have them back than any other band in the history of the festival,” he said.

BUSINESS

Cumberland branches out

After withdrawing from the Comox Valley Regional District’s economic development service in early 2016, the Village of Cumberland launched its own economic development department in 2018.

The Economic Development Strategy (EDS) was announced in January, to guide economic development priorities and decision-making in Cumberland.

SPORTS

Local Hobey Baker nominee

Myles Powell, of Comox, was named as one of 74 nominees for the coveted Hobey Baker Award, and the only British Columbian in the mix.

The Hobey Baker Award is presented annually to the NCAA Div. 1 player deemed to be the best college hockey player in the United States. (Adam Gaudette, a fifth-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, ultimately won the award.)

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Heavy snowfall buried cars Sunday at Mount Washington. Photo supplied

Photos courtesy RIT

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