B.C.’s top local news stories of 2017

B.C.’s top local news stories of 2017

A year in review: the shocking, stirring and amazing stories that caught our attention

There was no shortage of shocking, stirring, and amazing news stories to come out of our communities in British Columbia.

Here is Black Press Media’s ‘Year in Review’ of the biggest and best headlines from across B.C.

January

North Vancouver mountain peak named after Tim Jones

To honour the passing of longtime search and rescue leader Tim Jones, the government renamed Mount Seymour’s peaks to Tim Jones Peak.

Space heaters blamed for deadly fire

Vancouver fire officials determined space heaters were to blame for a fire that killed a three-year-old girl in East Vancouver.

Vancouver Island free diver records swimming under frozen lake

January was a colder month across B.C. compared to year’s past. A Campbell River scuba diver and videographer decided to explore the depths of Echo Lake. Read more >

B.C. association called on Muslims to be vigilant after Quebec mosque shooting

The BC Muslim Association urged police to protect places of worship and asked Muslims to be more vigilant for suspicious activities, in the wake of the fatal shootings at a mosque in Quebec that left six people dead. Read more >

B.C. universities’ sexual assault policies look to avoid past mistakes

Following the passing of Bill 23, universities were working towards specific sexual assault policies to protect and support students. Read more >

Bull rider Ty Pozzobon’s suicide partially due to CTE injury

In the first confirmed case of a professional bull rider with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Pozzobon’s death shook the rodeo community across the province. Read more >

Religious leaders urge Canada to act against U.S. immigration ban

Rabbis, priests and imams called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to issue temporary visas to those stuck in U.S. ports of entry after President Donald Trump’s entry ban impacting those from Muslim-majority countries. Read more >

Government looks for helicopter to prevent more ice bombs on bridges

Ice bombs falling from the Alex Fraser and Port Mann bridges in December and January led to more than 100 ICBC claims, most of them involving windshield damage. Read more >

February

Urban sprawl a growing Lower Mainland problem: UBC prof

The Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver areas are expected to grow almost 50 per cent within the next 20 years – but can infrastructure keep up? Read more >

SPCA to not return 88 animals seized in Langley

A ruling determined that the dozens of animals seized from a Langley property in September 2016 would not have to be returned to their owner, Sandra Simans, who instead would have to pay $80,000 to the SPCA. Read more >

B.C. woman’s jewelry shines on red carpet

Originally from Armstrong, Kim Livingstone – who now lives in Fort St. John – had her handmade items on display among celebrities at the Academy Awards. Read more >

Four-legged friends help Victoria veterans heal, cope with PTSD

Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs helps dozens of veterans during a 52-week program that involves the powers of bonding with dogs. Read more >

Carfentanil confirmed in Lower Mainland through lab tests

A drug 100 times more powerful than the deadly fentanyl – and used to sedate large animals like elephants – was found in drugs in Metro Vancouver, and later Nanaimo and in the Interior. Read more >

Feds visit cities across B.C. to begin pot talk

Following the passing of legislation to legalize marijuana in the summer of 2018, the federal government has visited with officials at both the municipal and provincial levels to decide how the framework for legalization will look. Read more >

March

Canadian lynx takes stroll along a Big White ski run

A fairly large sized lynx may have been minding its own business while exploring the mountainside near Black Forest, but still caught the attention of a skier who got an up-close video. Read more >

Man accused of cyberbullying Amanda Todd gets 11 years for unrelated case

Aydin Coban, 38, was sentenced to more than a decade behind bars in a Dutch prison for cyberbullying dozens of young girls and gay men. His Canadian trial for allegedly cyberbullying Amanda Todd has not yet begun. Read more >

BC Parks overhauls camping system

New spaces, a new reservation system and additional park rangers were part of the newest phase in the government’s campground expansion plan. Read more >

Judge finds woman not guilty of counselling her husband to commit suicide

Judge Ron Webb acquitted Terri Reimer on charges of aiding and abetting a person to commit suicide as well as counselling a person to commit suicide that resulted from a marital dispute with her husband, Bill Reimer. Read more >

Mutilated calf found in ditch near Mission sparks probe

The B.C. Dairy Association launched a formal investigation after a dead calf was found with its ear cut off. Read more >

New Westminster remains the only district in B.C. to be a sanctuary school

No other cities in the province had plans to create safe spaces for undocumented kids, which one Guatemalan family said saved their lives. Read more >

April

Investigation says toxin killed the Vancouver Aquarium’s beluga whales

Qila and Aurora died just nine days apart in 2016. The results of an investigation released months later equated toxins in food, water or human interference to the reason for the deaths. Read more >

Grizzly attack leaves Campbell River man seriously injured

Ryan Arsenault was working in the woods 100 kilometres north of Port Hardy when he was attacked by a grizzly bear. Read more >

RCMP officer rides scooter with teens at skate park

A Ladysmith Mountie turned a few heads at a local skate park after strapping on a helmet and taking a kick scooter for a spin while on duty. Read more >

B.C.’s first public health emergency continues

One year after the province declared the deadly opioid crisis its first public health emergency, stats showed B.C. was on track to see about 1,400 lives lost to overdoses. Read more >

Nanaimo’s KD Kid makes a meal out of Minions

Everett Botwright, 7, has autism is known to be a picky eater. So when he took a liking to the special edition Star Wars Kraft Dinner, his dad reached out to on Facebook for extra boxes – going viral. Read more >

Report finds Christy Clark, Liberals, harmed wrongfully fired employees

A detailed report by Ombudsperson Jay Chalke suggested that government decisions harmed the eight government employees fired in 2012 over allegations involving the mishandling of research into pharmaceutical drugs. One of the researchers, Roderick MacIsaac killed himself four months after being fired.

Security camera captures deer taking out man in Smithers

Cary McCook was just trying to get to his Smithers hotel while a deer was just trying to run away from a dog; and that’s when they butted heads. Read more >

3,600 people homeless in Metro Vancouver

In the first homeless count since 2014, the rise of those in significant poverty was a dissapointment – but not a surprise – t0 officials. Read more >

May

Victoria’s mascot, Mr. Floatie, officially relieved of duties

The mascot had become a popular advocate on both sides of the border and used to call on Victoria to properly treat sewage that’s pumped into the ocean. With shovels in the ground for a new treatment plant, it was time to retire. Read more >

Okanagan communities hit with significant flooding

Beginning in May, the region was flooded for months causing damage to homes and businesses. Read more >

Dead sea lion becomes an unwanted guest in Parksville

How the animal died was a mystery – and exactly which level of government was responsible for removing it turned out to be even more complicated. Read more >

Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy swept away in floodwater

Community members and the family were left to grieve the loss of Clayton Cassidy, who was believed to be checking creek levels when he drowned. His body was located May 28. Read more >

Jail time for Chilliwack men who violently abused dairy cows

There were tears in the courtroom when three young men were sentenced after being caught in undercover videos violently abusing cows at a Chilliwack dairy farm. Read more >

Big bouncing boy born at East Kootenay hospital

Shawn Tyson Williams Burgoyne weighed in at 13 pounds, 9.5 ounces – one of the biggest in the province’s known history. Read more >

June

At 61, dying man graduates from high school

Saanich man Peter Rey was declared terminally ill with glioblastoma in 2016, and with a heart full of acceptance drew up a bucket list that included getting his high school certificate. Read more >

Nashville Predators player replaces stolen gear for B.C. Boy

Matt Irwin turned a Vancouver Island boy’s luck around after his gear was stolen from a middle school. Read more >

Mountainous terrain, bad weather barriers in search for missing plane

Military and search and rescue crews canvassed the area for more than a week looking for a young couple who’s plane went missing near Cranbrook while flying from Lethbridge, Alta. to Kamloops. Read more >

Vandals target Campbell River’s rainbow crosswalk

Several burnouts by different vehicles over the community’s rainbow crosswalk destroyed the paint job ahead of the local Pride Festival. Read more >

Overnight Highway washout sends one to hospital

From the aerial footage of the washout, some said it was a miracle only one person was injured. Read more >

July

Langley man found to be part of $90-million pyramid scheme

A Langley man was fined $2.5 million in connection to a $90 million pyramid scheme that impacted victims from 120 countries. Read more >

Woman stuck at bottom of creek for days

A woman was trapped at the bottom of a Delta Creek ravine for five days before someone heard her screams and called 911. Read more >

Wildfires wreak havoc on B.C.’s Interior, Cariboo

Unseasonably dry weather led to the most damaging wildfire season in provincial history – taking out forests, wildlife and most of the Boston Flats area near Ashcroft. Read more >

Christy Clark steps away from public office

Following the Liberals loss in a confidence vote in June, Clark resigned from her position as party leader. Read more >

August

Company blames eclipse for escape of thousands of salmon

Cooke Aquaculture blamed exceptionally high tides and currents coinciding with a solar eclipse for the escape of more than 40,000 salmon, which made their way to B.C. waters. Read more >

Thousands gather with messages of love, resistance at anti-racism rally

More than 4,000 anti-racism demonstrators gathered outside the Vancouver city hall in response to an extreme right wing rally that was also planned – one week after racially motivated protests in Charlottesville, Va, turned deadly. Read more >

White Rock man identified as Canadian killed in Barcelona terror attack

Ian Moore Wilson was one of 14 killed while vacationing with his wife; he was remembered by his daughter as a “compassionate, generous, adventurous” father. Read more >

Buck gets tangled in hammock and the iconic Hammy is born

A Prince Rupert deer rose to fame in the months ahead after getting stuck in a backyard hammock. Read more >

Province gives $500K to anti-gang program in Surrey

The summer was a tough one for Surrey Mounties trying to get a grip on the gun violence – at its worst being three shootings in less than two days. In response, the province looked to funding a youth program that helps those at risk of joining gangs. Read more >

B.C. firefighter fined for breaking campfire ban

A photo of five firefighters enjoying their campfire on Adams Lake in the Shuswap region was posted on Facebook, going viral and garnering much criticism as some of the province burned. Read more >

Comox valley slo-pitch player dies after getting hit in head

Family and friends were left in shock after Chris Godfrey, a father and husband, died from injuries caused by getting hid in the back of the head with a ball. Since then, some leagues have made it mandatory to wear helmets. Read more >

September

Resident squashes squirrel-sparked grass fire

If lightning and human-caused fires weren’t enough this season, a hapless squirrel was at the centre of a September fire in 100 Mile House. Read more >

B.C. Indigenous protesters build tiny homes in Trans Mountain pipeline’s path

The Kinder Morgan pipeline continued to be the centre of controversy in 2017. In response to the $7.4-billion plan, members of the Secwepemc Nation made their own plans to build 10 tiny homes directly in its path. Read more >

MLA Darryl Plecas makes waves accepting non-partisan Speaker’s chair

The Abbotsford representative prompted a furious reaction from the BC Liberals, which kicked Plecas out of the party. Read more >

Extradition of Maple Ridge pair accused in ‘honour killing’ stayed

Already on their way to India, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, 66, and Surjit Singh Badesha, 71 were in Toronto about to board the next flight when they found out their extradition was stayed in a last-minute appeal. Read more >

B.C. man’s polite encounter with bears praised for being ‘so Canadian’

Sooke resident Jordan Cote calmly asked the four-legged family to leave because he had to get to work – and they listened. Read more >

Young minke whale rescued after beaching near Naden Harbour

Beached right at the last high-tide line, workers at lodges along the coast spent hours keeping the whale cool until he could return to sea. Read more >

Fentanyl-linked overdose deaths soar in B.C.

The deadly opioid fentanyl was found to have caused more than 80 per cent of drug overdose deaths across the province in the first seven months of 2017. Read more >

Man who was filmed hurling racial slurs pleads guilty to assault

A man who was filmed spewing racial slurs at an Abbotsford lawyer in October 2016 will be sentenced in 2018, more than a year after the incident caught international attention. Read more >

October

Chief says national inquiry needs to be held accountable

Families poured their hearts out in Smithers for one of nine National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls hearings set to continue next year across the country. Read more >

Pitt Meadows councillor convicted of sexual assault from 25 years ago

Dave Murray will find out his sentencing in January, and has since resigned from his municipal position. Read more >

Maple Ridge man killed in Las Vegas shooting

Jordan McIldoon, 23, was one of the 59 people killed in the largest massacre to occur in the U.S. to date. Family called him a “compassionate young man who lived a life full of adventures.” Read more >

First responders, allies raise thousands for Cops for Cancer

Watch this first-person account of the 1,000 km journey around Vancouver Island, all to raise funds for life-saving research and support programs. Read more >

Canadian veterans fight to reinstate lifelong pensions

Six plaintiffs from the province are fighting the Canadian government in B.C. Supreme Court of Appeal to reinstate lifelong pensions for veterans. Read more >

Cloverdale pastor charged with 13 counts of sexual assault

Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine will be facing trial in January for multiple sex-related charges – some allegedly involving youth. Read more >

Okanagan man harassed by conspiracy theorists

Braden Matejka narrowly escaped the worst mass shooting in US history, but upon returning home to recover was forced to weather another threat: online conspirators. Read more >

Family honours paramedics with special Halloween costume

Vancouver Island’s Jackson Poole has made many trips to the hospital, being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism. For his favourite day of the year, his parents made him an unforgettable costume. Read more >

Fernie mourns after fatal ammonia leak

What started as a repair at the local hockey rink ended in tragedy when three men – all known in the community – were killed by the leak that also led to evacuations and state of local emergency. Read more >

November

Human remains found on Silver Creek farm missing 18-year-old

Traci Genereaux was last heard from May 29 in Vernon. Curtis Sagmoen, who’s family owns the farm is in police custody on other charges. Read more >

Abbotsford police officer, father dies in shooting

Remembered by thousands as an officer and friend, Const. John Davidson was laid to rest after being shot in the line of duty. Read more >

Nasty note on Vernon windshield sparks online outrage

Her mom suffers from fibromyalgia and chronic pain, and daughter Bailey McDonald decided to use a painful experience in the form of a windshield note to start conversation about invisible illness. Read more >

Golden man sues B.C. government to prove Bigfoot exists

Some call him crazy, others call him a genius, but Todd Standing received nationwide attention in proving Bigfoot exists. Read more >

Victoria boy looks to add ‘levidrome’ to the dictionary

Second-grader Levi Budd received national attention – including support from William Shatner – to get his word in the dictionary. Read more >

Chilliwack school trustee compares gender transitioning to ‘child abuse’

Barry Neufeld, supported by Culture Guard, targeted the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program, drawing criticism and calls for his resignation. Read more >

December

Charges stayed against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six massacre

For reasons sealed from the public, a judge granted application to have charges against Jamie Bacon dropped in connection to the deaths of six people in 2007. Read more >

Search for missing couple on way to Edmonton called off

The single-engine Mooney plane was flown by Dominic Neron, 28, along with his girlfriend Ashley Bourgeault before it went missing near Revelstoke. Read more >

Mother, daughters murdered days before Christmas

A Kelowna man was charged after allegedly killing his wife and daughters in Rutland. Read more >

Convicted killer Kelly Ellard granted day parole

Now 35, Ellard was eligible to apply for parole since 2013. In her second application, she was given permission to take steps that would allow her back into society – 20 years after killing 14-year-old Reena Virk. Read more >

Heavy rains caused millions in damage to Terrace roadway

Heavy rain one September day caused a 1.6-km long landslide, now costing an estimated $5 million to repair. Read more >

Human foot with part of leg found on Vancouver Island beach

Marking the 13th disembodied foot to wash up on B.C.’s coastline since 2007, a man and his dog discovered the mysterious foot in the tiny hamlet of Jordan River. Read more >

Ex-RCMP spokesperson found not guilty of one count of sexual assault

The judge found that Tim Shields did not use his position of authority to force the complainant into a detachment washroom to commit sexual acts. Read more >

B.C. casinos must now declare cash deposits

In response to money laundering, the government is taking steps to combat money laundering from proceeds of crime. Read more >

Oak Bay mourns after young sisters killed Christmas Day

Communities across B.C. were left in shock when police released the identities of the deceased following an incident at an Oak Bay apartment – Chloe and Aubrey Berry. Read more >

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Black Press Media takes an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done in the province when it comes to sexual harassment. Read more >

Man charged with assault after Muslim teen assaulted on SkyTrain

Noor Fadel said she was taking the train home when a man became verbally abusive and threatened her – until one fellow passenger intervened. Read more >

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