A man has been sentenced to nine months for setting fire to the Cona Hostel in Courtenay. File photo

Man pleads guilty to setting fire at Courtenay hostel

21-year-old sentenced to nine months at correctional centre

A man has been sentenced to nine months at a correctional centre for setting fire to the Cona Hostel next to the 5th Street Bridge in Courtenay.

Jacob O’Neil was sentenced Monday at the Courtenay provincial courthouse for arson endangering a life. The 21-year-old pleaded guilty last week to setting the fire on March 23. An estimated 22 hostel occupants vacated the building unharmed.

Judge Ronald Webb imposed an 18-month sentence minus nine months for time served. He recommended that O’Neil serve the time at Guthrie House, a therapeutic community at the Nanaimo Correctional Centre. O’Neil was also placed on probation for three years.

“Hopefully he gets the help he needs,” said Karla Wikjord, who owns the building containing the hostel at 440 Anderton Ave. “Obviously he’s a troubled individual.”

It is not clear why O’Neil set the fire, which broke out around 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 23. Later that day, Comox Valley RCMP had arrested a man believed to have been associated with the hostel fire, and with one or more fires that broke out March 23. It has not been confirmed if the man was O’Neil.

While police were still at the hostel, they had received another call of a fire nearby at Fifth and Fitzgerald. Then, a third call came in about a fire that broke out in the 600-block of Cliffe Avenue. There is no further information about these fires at this time.

Constructed in the 19th century, the Cona Hostel was originally the McPhee Hardware Store on Fifth Street. It was later moved to Anderton Avenue. The building housed Red Cross volunteers in the basement during the First and Second World Wars. It has also served as a funeral parlour, a roofing company, a music store and an art gallery.

The hostel is still sitting in disrepair.

“We’re still waiting for the insurance company to come back to us,” Wikjord said. “We don’t know anything at this point.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox Valley Horseshoe Society all about friendly competition

Feeling lucky? Do you have horseshoes? The Comox Valley Horseshoe Society is… Continue reading

Fanny Bay residents fed up with problem house

A delegation from Fanny Bay has appealed to regional district directors to… Continue reading

Merville’s annual Garlic Fest a ‘stinking good time’

Once again, it is time to hold your nose and prance on… Continue reading

Cumberland resident finds prized possession from childhood

Corrina Mahoney was scanning the 24 Hour Bidding site and happened upon… Continue reading

Courtenay seeking input on community goals and growth

Survey participants could win $100 gift certificates

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Charlie’s Car Wash in Courtenay raising funds for YANA

Michael Seib the owner of Charlie’s Auto Wash (beside Value Village) in… Continue reading

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Nanaimo woman will buy ‘supersonic’ hair dryer after $500,000 lotto win

Debra Allen won $500,000 in July 28 Lotto Max draw

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Most Read