Chilliwack Year in Review 2018 – July to December

A look back at the most important stories of the second half of the year

The Chilliwack Progress continues its look back at 2018, reviewing the last six months of the year.

For the first six months of the year, check out Chilliwack Year in Review 2018 – January to June.

July

Free $1,200 grants going unclaimed by thousands in B.C.

A Chilliwack financial advisor was on a mission to explain to thousands of parents that, yes, there is such thing as a free lunch.

Terry Brown was frustrated as he banged the drum on social media and face-to-face to encourage parents of children born after 2006 to take the government up on a free $1,200 grant.

By July, much fewer than half of eligible children had received the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) across the province. There were 176,000 kids not enrolled leaving $211 million on the table with, as of July 4, just 41 days until the last day to apply for kids born in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Free transit on election day

There may be no free lunch, but there would be a free ride to the polls come voting day.

With the idea of encouraging a better voter turnout in Chilliwack for the 2018 municipal election, city council followed the lead of other B.C. jurisdictions in offering free bus service on election day.

“Whenever it comes to election time we’re always thinking of ways to make people think more about voting,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

Chilliwack charity fights feds for access to life-saving meds

Long-time Chilliwack resident Susi Vander Wyk had been fighting for years to help find a cure for children born with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) when she learned the Canadian government had approved the disease’s first-ever drug treatment, Spinraza, in 2017.

However, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH) recommended against government reimbursement for the treatment, which comes with a $750,000 USD price tag for the first year.

But “which is worse, not having treatment or having one that we can’t get?” asked Vander Wyk, who founded Cure SMA Canada. So with that in mind, Vander Wyk spent the majority of 2018 traversing the countryside trying to convince politicians on the provincial and federal levels that covering the cost of Spinraza not only benefits the patients, but the country.

“This treatment is safe, effective, has reversed symptoms, and no other treatments are even close,” said Vander Wyk.

Youth organization wants anti-porn curriculum in Chilliwack schools

As the school year came to a close in Chilliwack, an international youth organization, the Youth Wellbeing Project Canada, began petitioning local educators to include its anti-porn curriculum in classrooms come September.

Free access to technology and a porn-rich culture are leaving our children vulnerable to the pornography industry’s nefarious marketing schemes and negative consequences, said Nadine Willis, the Project’s Canadian programs manager.

“The porn industry targets kids,” explained Willis. “If they catch them when they’re young, they have a guaranteed life-time customer. Pornography is (also) used to groom children for exploitation, it has negative neurological effects, and it can lead to acting out traumatic situations.

“So this full curriculum (we) have would really help,” continued Willis. “It’s extensive and fully detailed (and) it even has the wording and the lesson plans to integrate into many subjects.

“We just want our kids to be the best they can be, and it starts here.”

Two Sardis homes destroyed by suspicious fire

Five families were left homeless after two homes and three garages were destroyed in a July 11 blaze that was deemed suspicious.

In addition to the five structures destroyed, 11 more suffered minor heat damage. In the aftermath it was evident four vehicles were destroyed in the fire and one motorcycle was either destroyed or suffered damage.

The fire hit so fast according to one witness that working smoke alarms didn’t go off.

Revitalization of downtown Chilliwack

Monumental change for downtown is imminent.

City of Chilliwack awarded the long-awaited redevelopment contract to Algra Brothers to transform 3.75 acres of prime land in downtown Chilliwack. The site near Five Corners will see a combination of retail, commercial, residential and mixed-used development, in a multi-year, multi-phased development.

Council OKs 28-unit project over opposition

Several Vista Place residents showed up at city hall to strongly oppose the rezoning, but in the end it was approved.

They had concerns like tree removal, parking, traffic safety and more. Some wanted access through Jinkerson rather than Vista Place, but that option would be too steep, and would require huge retaining walls.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz reminded residents that just because nothing was planned in terms of development at the time of purchase, it did not mean that densification wouldn’t be a reality eventually in their neighbourhood.

“I understand you want more density, but I feel a little bit duped,” said one speaker.

Vista Place was described as a short street, that was marketed to future owners on the basis that it was a “quiet cul-de-sac.”

Chilliwack rallies to rebuild Yarrow free library after arson

It all started early Canada Day morning when Yarrow’s Little Free Library (LFL) was set on fire and a local farm hand shared a picture of the structure burning on Facebook. By the time the police arrived, the fire had been put out and the Little Free Library had been destroyed, yet that wasn’t destined to be the end of its story.

As the flaming photo of the Little Free Library made its rounds on social media, the community began to rage at the injustice, but they also started coming together to right a wrong when a few locals stepped up and installed an impromptu stand-in structure with handwritten signs that read, “Good always out does bad,” and “Young people made bad choices and burnt the library. They aren’t bad just made bad choices.”

On July 11, less than two weeks after the original structure was destroyed by arson, Yarrow had a new LFL stand full of books donated by The Book Man.

“This could’ve been a real opportunity for people to get negative and sour, but instead it turned into a way to affirm the positivity within the community,” said Amy Klassen, who installed Yarrow’s original LFL. “It’s a real testimony to the spirit of the community.”

International students claim Chilliwack flight school ripped them off

A Chilliwack flight school was accused by some international students of not refunding money owed after training didn’t go as expected.

In at least one case, money was paid in advance by a student in Nigeria, his Canadian visa was rejected, and the money was not reimbursed.

But the owners of Blue Bird Flight Academy said the claims are unfair and false.

Still, a judge ordered Blue Bird to pay back an Indian man $5,800 after he went to another school.

Cannabis shops on First Nations land raided by police

The proprietors of two new cannabis retail shops on two different local First Nations reserves in Chilliwack learned that, yes, marijuana wasn’t yet legal.

Mounties executed search warrants at The Kure Cannabis Dispensary on the Skwah First Nation just off Wolfe Road, and at Indigenous Bloom Medical Cannabis Dispensary on the Kwaw-Kwaw-Apilt First Nation on Ashwell Drive.

Several people were taken into custody and later released. An RCMP release said drugs believed to be marijuana and cash were seized by officers during the searches.

Both shops opened up the next day, but The Kure has since closed and is in the process of applying for a legal retail licence.

Dramatic Abbotsford vehicle theft ends with rollover in Chilliwack

A well-known prolific offender was in Chilliwack court after an alleged and dramatic vehicle theft that started in Abbotsford and ended with a rollover off an embankment on Prest Road in Chilliwack.

Michael Joseph Hasell has an extensive record dating back more than a decade in B.C., mostly for property crimes in Chilliwack but also in Penticton.

Coming from Abbotsford, the driver presumably came up the Prest off-ramp and failed to negotiate a right hand turn south on Prest, flipping the trailer and going off the road.

Hasell was charged with one count each of theft of motor vehicle, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and flight from a peace officer.

One dead after CRV cabin fire

A retired man died after an early morning cabin fire in the Post Creek neighbourhood at the end of the Chilliwack River Valley near Chilliwack Lake.

It was at approximately 1:15 a.m. on July 24 when Chilliwack RCMP were dispatched to the 51000-block of East Paulsen Road. When police and firefighters arrived, a residential structure was fully engulfed by fire.

One person who had succumbed to injuries was located inside the structure.

City hall taps out on decade-long resistance to MMA in Chilliwack

City hall has finally tapped out on its decade-long resistance to allow mixed martial arts (MMA) events in municipal-owned facilities in Chilliwack.

Back in 2008 when organizers asked to host an “extreme” fighting event at the Landing Sports Centre, council declined the request pointing to concerns over liability, but also the sense at the time that the sport was connected to gangs.

At its July 17 meeting, city council agreed to a staff recommendation to approve the request from Rise Fighting Championship to host an event as long as the event has proof of B.C. Athletic Commissioner sanctioning and conditions set out in city policy were met.

Chilliwack residents complain about drones spying on backyards

As the temperatures in Chilliwack soared to record heights, locals began to cry out about unwanted guests, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, flying past their homes and invading their privacy.

“You expect privacy in your own home,” said Tammy Stettler, a stay-at-home mom in the Little Mountain area. “An

d when you see a drone staring at you in the window, suddenly that sense of privacy or security disappears.”

Flight regulations for UAVs fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada, which means they’re federally regulated and follow the same rules regardless where they’re flown: so if you’re on the other end of a remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS), it’s up to you to be both respectful and responsible while you’re flying because flying onto private property, or any place a person wouldn’t be welcome could be considered mischief and may lead to criminal charges.

Chilliwack Museum head resigns as executive director

Matthew Francis resigned his position as executive director of the Chilliwack Museum, but the reason was never given.

Charlie Fortin, chairman of the Chilliwack Historical Society board, confirmed that Francis had tendered his resignation but offered no details.

August

Councillor asked to clarify expenses

The heat was on Coun. Sam Waddington. Scrutiny intensified after council voted unanimously to ask Coun. Waddington to clarify some of his expenses from 2017.

He was asked why he met with certain officials, and what benefit that “wining and dining” offered for taxpayers, to why he was paying for officials who have their own expense accounts while attending meetings as a board member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Chilliwack changes force businesses to move shop

While there’s no denying the revamp announcement of Chilliwack’s downtown core was a welcome albeit overdue one, it left several businesses in the area with uncertain futures. Nine businesses were being displaced by the redevelopment process. And however you look at it, moving comes with a cost, say those required to move.

“For the ones that have to move, they have to spend more money on a new store, signage, whatever else they need, and that’s unfortunate,” said Jason Ooms, who owns Goldsteam Craft Brewing Supplies.

Imagine planning a large wedding on your own, “or working 80 to 100 hours a week, and even when you get home you’re still thinking about work and never have any down time. That’s what starting up is like, and we have to do it all over again, said Sam Khosa, who opened WeVape INC next to Goldsteam in February.

“What we’ve learned from economists is we need to build a neighbourhood downtown to support the businesses,” said former mayor, Sharon Gaetz. “We want it to be a vibrant community with lots of hustle and bustle in that area. Business is important to us (and) we don’t want to lose (it) in that area.”

Gangster linked to international hit found dead in blueberry field

More than two years after a body was found in an Abbotsford blueberry field next to the Vedder Canal, a dramatic story of international murder and revenge emerged.

Just seven days before Orosman Jr. Garcia Arevalo’s body was discovered by farmer Boota Punia, Turkish drug trafficker Cetin Koc was gunned down while sitting in his car in a luxurious downtown Dubai neighbourhood.

Through an extensive investigation, Postmedia reporter Kim Bolan reported that one of the hit men was none other than Arevalo.

Cheers for Chilliwack plowman competing in the Worlds

The Chilliwack Fair attendees got the chance to wish him luck.

A plowing display on the Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association grounds during the Chilliwack Fair had a book of congratulations for fans of plowman Francis Sache to sign, as he headed to the world championships of plowing in Germany.

“It’s not very often someone from B.C. goes to the world match,” Canadian plowing official Jim Sache said. “It’s quite an honour. If he gets into the top 10 he will have done great.”

Punches are thrown inside Chilliwack nail salon over price dispute

As summer continued, Chilliwack’s HD Nails received its 15 minutes of fame when a video recorded inside the salon of an altercation between staff and a customer went viral.

In the video, Ashley Deshaies can be seen batting away five different employees while screaming, “Don’t f—-ing touch me!” while trying to get out of the salon, which had been locked to prevent her leaving due to a dispute over the bill.

Deshaies’s step-father and police eventually arrived on scene: Deshaies was released from the salon and paid a portion of her bill before leaving. No charges were laid.

Local First Nation elder arrested by Israeli army en route to Gaza

A local Sto:lo elder was arrested and possibly injured by the Israeli navy while taking part in an activist mission to bring medical aid supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Larry Commodore of the Soowahlie first Nation was among 22 members of international group of participants who were on the Freedom Flotilla Coalition’s ship Al Awda that was stopped and boarded by the Israeli navy about 50 nautical miles from Gaza.

Knowing arrest and detention was likely, participants on board created YouTube videos to be sent out after the incident.

“If you are watching this it means I have been kidnapped by the Israeli occupation forces,” Commodore said in his video.

Sockeye fishery opened

Everyone who likes to fish anticipates the super sockeye salmon run every four years on the Fraser River.

Anglers found out in August that a recreational fishery opening for sockeye was coming, said Dean Werk, president of the Fraser Valley Salmon Society, and owner of Great River Fishing Adventures.

He’d been predicting it would open after the B.C. Day long weekend, and it was confirmed the recreational fishery would run from Aug. 7 to Sept. 3 with retention limit of two sockeye per day.

Teacher’s request to opt out of union on religious grounds rejected

A Chilliwack teacher won’t get out of paying union dues because of his belief in a Marxist conspiracy taking over Western civilization.

That’s the ruling from the Labour Relations Board (LRB) for the case of Robert Bogunovic who, in his own words, says he adheres to the conspiracy theory of cultural Marxism’s “long march through the institutions.”

“Trade unionism is a major part of the grand Marxist agenda,” he said in his application to the LRB.

Bogunovic appealed but that was rejected by the board that said his fear was a political opposition, not a religious one.

Chilliwack to host the Fraser Valley’s first sunflower festival

From itty-bitty little ones to great big giant ones, August saw the Fraser Valley full of hundreds of thousands of bright, sunny faces staring up at the sky as the first annual Chilliwack Sunflower Festival kicked off.

With blossoms from 17 varieties of sunflowers planted across more than five acres of land, Kate Onos-Gilbert, the Festival’s founder, explained that while “this is our first time growing this many sunflowers,” we hope this event becomes as popular as Tulips of the Valley, which she’s organized for more than a decade.

“Our research showed (sunflowers are) a popular flower in the area and it fits with our crop rotation … so we’re super excited (about the event).”

In addition to the just-for-looking sunflowers, the Festival also had a large you-pick sunflower garden, and about 20 acres of hops vines to stroll through, swing sets, lawn games, and on the weekends, the Rotary Club of Chilliwack’s train offered by-donation rides through the fields.

Tweet about painting over racist graffiti goes viral

When Nick Cooper painted over racist graffiti under a bridge, he never imagined his simple action would be shared in a viral Tweet that would go around the world.

Then there was also an irony that 20 years before, Cooper thought and said some of the very words expressed in that racist graffiti.

Cooper went and painted over the swastika and the racist message, took a photo and Tweeted about it. He went to bed Friday, woke up Saturday thinking his phone had been hacked.

“I had 33,000 notifications,” he said. “It just blew up. I couldn’t believe it.”

Three days later, his Tweet had 352,000 likes, it had been retweeted 78,000 times and there were 1,700 comments.

One injured in shooting on Woodbine Avenue

Neighbours were rattled after a violent shooting on Woodbine Avenue in the early hours of August 9.

There were few details yet, but a source confirmed one person was injured in the shooting just after 3 a.m. in the 9400-block of Woodbine.

Police were on the scene with metal detectors and evidence cones combing the lawns around the scene later that day.

Chilliwack is home to Sasquatch, the first Canadian-designed hops plant

This past summer also saw a chunk of Chilliwack land returning to its roots as the Royalwood Farm began growing Sasquatch hops, Canada’s first patented hops.

Based on a wild strain, Sasquatch “is its own hop in every way,” said Don Konantz, CEO of Hops Connect, the company that designed and patented country’s first homegrown hop plant. “The plant is patented, has been vetted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and we’ve trademarked the name Sasquatch.”

“It’s like a mix between Cascade and Goldings, which is a traditional UK variety,” explained Nick Fengler, Brewmaster at Old Yale Brewing (OYB) in Chilliwack. “So when we heard about the Sasquatch hops, we made sure we were the first” to produce the first Canadian-made beer with the first Canadian-made hops.

Suspect in fatal crash after robbing jewelry store sentenced

A man who robbed a jewelry store in Nelson, stole a motorcycle in Revelstoke, and allegedly crashed an SUV near Hope killing his passenger was sentenced to time served in Chilliwack provincial court.

In September 2017, Anthony Creed Cortez stole $30,000 worth of jewelry in a smash and grab in Nelson, allegedly crashed a stolen SUV killing his companion Danielle Charlton that same day after which he fled in a pickup truck he stole from a good Samaritan.

He was sentenced in August 2018 to seven months jail and released on time served.

Food producers sought with surplus to donate

FoodMesh is a pilot project to divert food waste to a higher end use since the amount of food wasted every year is nothing short of a crisis.

A whopping one-third of all the food produced every year is thrown out in North America.

FoodMesh partnered with the Fraser Valley Regional District on a new project to give edible but otherwise imperfect food a second chance with an online portal.

“Food waste is a crisis,” said FoodMesh founder Jessica Pautsch.

Chilliwack answered the call

Police and firefighting resources from the Chilliwack area were sent to the wildfire zones to offer support and fire relief.

Chilliwack Fire Department dispatched both firefighting personnel and equipment to Vanderhoof to assist Emergency Management BC in a province-wide state of emergency. Fire and police personnel provided firefighter relief, traffic control, and more.

Cattle prod wasn’t there to make bull perform

The Chilliwack Rodeo Association is refuting allegations by Vancouver Humane Society that an electronic cattle prod was used last weekend to make an animal perform.

“This is untrue,” stated CRA president Len Blackstock.

Photos taken by VHS and sent to the media appeared to show an electronic device in use on a bull during the bullriding competition. That is in dispute now.

“The handheld device is there for the safety of the animal and rider and was in his hand ready in case needed for an emergency.”

Use of such devices on livestock is prohibited in the arena during rodeo performances, under B.C. Rodeo Association rules. The only exception for its use is for “chute stalling” animals, with contestant and contractor approval, and use of the device is only permitted by a qualified member.

Idea being floated for gondola above Bridal Falls

The concept of building a gondola up to a ridge above Bridal Falls overlooking Chilliwack is going under the microscope.

Details of the application for a two-year “licence of occupation” from Bridal Falls Gondola Corp. to conduct in-depth studies on Crown land were posted on the provincial government website.

The feasibility, as well as the potential geotechnical hazards, will be looked at, and public consultation is a part of the process.

September

Chilliwack’s Promontory Heights elementary now has eight more classrooms thanks to expansion

Staff and students of Promontory Heights Elementary School celebrated completion of a two-storey expansion project.

“Really, it’s all about the success of the students,” said Evelyn Novak, Superintendent of Schools for the Chilliwack School District.

The $6.1 million project broke ground at the end of the 2016-2017 school year and helps ensure Promontory Elementary is better suited to handle its more than 600 Kindergarten to grade five students.

Man who killed ‘Mikey’ Anderson sentenced to 14 years

When David McKay woke up in a tent in a homeless camp near Townsend Park on July 13, 2016, he confronted his girlfriend Cyndie Markel-Rempel about an alleged sexual encounter.

The two then went to a known drug house where McKay beat John ‘Mikey’ Anderson with a hammer tacker, striking him more than a dozen times in the head. He was looking for someone else and killed the wrong man.

Justice Martha Devlin acceded to the joint submission of 14 years jail.

Councillor explains his expenses

Coun. Sam Waddington answered questions about his 2017 expenses in council chambers. The city councillor was asked to explain receipts totalling $1,456.98, after a resolution of council.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz, and Coun. Chuck Stam put Coun. Waddington on the spot by placing his 2017 expenses under the microscope, with each filing separate freedom of information (FOI) requests for expense details about out-of-town conferences and meetings.

Mayor Gaetz said she still had questions after Waddington finished, noting she had made calls to FCM about the conference timing, and found out the meetings were completely over after Grey Cup weekend. She also called the hotel to check on the in-room dining claim, and she felt Coun. Waddington still had more explaining to do about extra meetings, or travel, that had not been approved by FCM or by council.

SOGI 123 debate by trustee candidates irrelevant: union

The election campaign for the Chilliwack school board was getting ugly before it began with several candidates galvanizing around what is – or at least should be, according to teachers – a non-issue.

A number of candidates expressed opposition to the anti-bullying resource called SOGI 123, but the teachers’ union says trustees don’t have the authority to ban the resource anyway.

“School boards absolutely cannot reject, prohibit or ban provincially approved resources, curriculum or classes,” according to Chilliwack Teachers Association (CTA) president Ed Klettke.

Chilliwack one of the first cities in B.C. to pilot new anti-childhood-obesity program

While obesity isn’t a new problem, the rate at which it’s affecting children has become so alarming, the provincial government is pairing up with the Childhood Obesity Foundation (COF) to implement province-wide programming to curb unhealthy habits.

“There is an epidemic of unhealthy weights of the people in North America,” said Dr. Tom Warshawski, who’s a pediatrician and COF Board member. ”In childhood, one in three (kids) have an unhealthy weight, or unhealthy weight trajectory. By adulthood, 60 per cent of adults are either overweight or obese, and that’s a result of our habits.”

So in September, Chilliwack joined nine other B.C. communities in becoming the first in the province to pilot the Family Healthy Living Program, which has its sights set on reducing obesity-related chronic diseases through prevention and early education.

Chilliwack’s largest ever marijuana grow-op case ends with no verdict

The criminal case against the man behind the largest illegal marijuana grow operation in Chilliwack’s history, which was also one of the oldest files still on the BC Supreme Court docket, ended.

And there will be no justice for what was once described by Crown counsel Michael LeDressay as a “monstrous criminal enterprise” that involved nearly 12,000 plants in an elaborate underground bunker producing more than $3 million of drugs a year.

The accused in the case, Lloyd Allan McConnell, was himself the reason for years of delays in the court system, but finally a BC Supreme Court Justice issued a stay of proceedings in New Westminster on Aug. 30.

By that date, the case was 3,276 days old dating back to Sept. 9, 2009.

Province pledges nearly $49M for new south-side school

Education Minister Rob Fleming was in Chilliwack on Sept. 17 to announce $48.6 million in provincial government funding to build the new school on the south side adjacent to the Vedder River.

Construction on the new 930-seat, Kindergarten-to-grade 8 school is scheduled to begin October 2019 and be ready for students in September 2022.

The school will be built on a 12.43-acre property purchased by the school district last year at the end of Tyson Road along the river. The district will also contribute $5 million to the new school.

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to homeless man

A kitten abandoned next to a dumpster near a Chilliwack pet store got a new home thanks to the homeless man who found it.

The man goes by “Jay” or “Jay Bro” on the streets, and his face lights up as he pulled the little black-and-white kitten out of its carrier for a photo.

“It’s my kitty cat,” he says. “I got him to purr. He was shaking when I found him.”

Jay said he would have gladly kept Sylvester as his own pet, taking him around on a leash, but he readily understood that wasn’t a great solution since he is homeless.

Dairy farmer says Trump doesn’t get the industry

With free trade between Canada and the U.S. a hot-button issue of late, the mention of Donald Trump on a tour of a dairy farm is like throwing a match in a gas tank.

“Oh, how much time do you have buddy?”

Sixth generation Chilliwack dairy farmer Devan Toop said Trump doesn’t understand the source of the problem.

“The problem with their milk system isn’t having enough places to put it, it is that they are over-producing on such a grand scale. They are dumping milk left, right and centre.”

Chilliwack artist’s design chosen for Orange Shirt Day

Chilliwack graphic artist Fred Jackson was honoured in September when his design was chosen for Orange Shirt Day (OSD). Beginning six years ago, OSD promotes awareness and education about the residential school system, its impact on Indigenous communities across the country, and emphasizes ‘Every Child Matters’ the event’s slogan, which is featured on all of its shirts.

“I had family members who were in residential schools,” said Jackson. “Most families have aunts and uncles and grandparents who went to residential schools … And because they’ve been through so much … it affects our generation because it gets passed down.”

So upon learning that his design had been chosen for this year’s OSD, Jackson says he felt proud. “It’s been sold across Canada and even further. I’m glad I could share a story and my art.”

Promise made to Prest descendants honoured

It was the right thing to do. That’s what both parties said once they signed the agreement.

A promise was made to the descendants of Chilliwack pioneer William Prest, pledging they’d have a final resting place set aside near their kin in the cemetery atop Little Mountain. Now that promise is being carried out.

City council to clean up expenses bylaw

Should alcohol be a reimbursable expense for city council members?

That was one of the debates bubbling up from council chambers during the process of updating council’s remuneration and expense bylaw began.

Eventually council decided to exclude alcohol as an allowable expense, and offered staff direction on several related fronts, to assist in cleaning up the bylaw.

Mussell Crane Manufacturing wins award

Mussell reps said they were excited and honoured to win 2018 Indigenous Business of the Year.

Mussell Crane Manufacturing was recognized as ‘Business of the Year’ at a gala dinner at the Fairmont Vancouver in October.

“We are excited and honoured to be chosen Business of the Year (11+ enterprise) for the 2018 BC Indigenous Business Awards,” said a Mussell Crane rep on the company Facebook page.

Housing Hub helped by realtor

Sabrina vandenBrink was the first Chilliwack realtor to answer the call for help.

When Chilliwack Housing Hub officials unveiled their latest strategy last week to tackle the housing crisis, part of the idea was calling on real estate agents to donate their commissions from one property sale.

When vandenBrink heard that, she thought it over carefully, and got on board.

The local realtor went one further and decided to donate not just her commission from one sale, but also another 10 per cent of all her September sales.

Missing couple named by family

The family of a Chilliwack couple whose two-seater plane disappeared while on a flight from Edmonton released their identities.

Geoff and Judy Pickard of Chilliwack went missing on Sept. 14 while en route home to Chilliwack after a visit with family and friends, according to a statement released by the Pickard family.

“Our father was an experienced pilot who had flown this route many times,” according to a family statement, written by brothers Matthew and James Pickard.

It’s possible the weather changed quickly as the couple flew over the Rocky Mountains because it was clear and sunny when they left Edmonton.

Special meeting to hire auditor

City of Chilliwack hired an independent auditor to review Coun. Sam Waddington’s expenses in detail dating back to the beginning of his term, and to refer findings to the RCMP.

The decision was passed at a special meeting in September, after council heard from Coun. Waddington and his two legal counsel on the subject of the expenses.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz and Coun. Ken Popove, who are also running for mayor along with Coun. Waddington, recused themselves from the discussion and the vote on the audit motion, in order to avoid any conflict of interest.

A unanimous vote of council in August requested who he was meeting met with, why he was paying for elected reps who have their own expense accounts, and what value it offered for the taxpayer, to which Coun. Waddington responded with a lengthy report.

Since then, some of the people Coun. Waddington stated in his report that he met with, or dined with, have come forward to say it was not so. Their responses, indicating they did not meet with Coun. Waddington, as alleged in his report, were in a series of emails to Mayor Gaetz, and those emails were then released to the public.

Community BBQ to reclaim park

The neighbours of Edwards Park held a barbecue to celebrate the reclaiming of their community park.

Event organizer Margaret Reveley was overcome with emotion as she surveyed the scene.

“This does my heart good, to see all these kids and families back using this park again,” Reveley said.

Homeless campers had taken over the park, leaving garbage and drug debris.

“Because that’s what this neighbourhood park is supposed to be; it’s supposed to be for children and families and this neighbourhood to use, and having this barbecue has brought them back again.”

October

No pot production in bunkers on farmland

Cannabis producers won’t be allowed to grow marijuana on farmland in industrial-style, cement-based bunkers.

Chilliwack council approved text amendments and new zoning definitions Tuesday for cannabis production facilities (CPFs) to protect the productive ag land.

“It’s a small win,” said Coun. Chris Kloot, chair of the ag advisory committee.

Chilliwack military museum must find new home

Long-time residents of Chilliwack know about the rich military history in the community, but it started to get harder and harder to find a permanent location for all the memorabilia.

First there was the 2015 closure of the Canadian Military Education Centre housed in a building now home to the Canada Border Services Agency’s. Then there was the struggling bid a year later by members of the CFB Chilliwack Historical Society (CFBCHS) to find a new location on the old base grounds to house the thousands of pieces of history, from medals to weaponry to tanks.

And in the fall, the CFBCHS was in a bit of a bind again, forced to leave the location on the north side of the city that the society has housed 30,000-plus artifacts for 20 years.

Chilliwack’s public health unit first in B.C. to earn the WHO’s Baby Friendly Initiative designation

It had been a work in progress, but Chilliwack’s public health unit has earned itself the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Baby-Friendly Initiative (BFI) designation—and was the first in the province to do so.

“We began making a real concerted effort to get designation at the beginning of 2017,” explained Crystal Salter, manager of clinical operations for the Chilliwack public health unit. “The timing was right … and looking at the indicators we realized we were (already) quite close to being able to achieve (the) Baby Friendly designation.”

After applying for the designation, Chilliwack’s public health unit was thoroughly assessed by an external body who determines whether or not the unit’s policies and practices aligned with the 10 steps of the WHO initiative, and were bestowed with the BFI designation.

“It’s a testament to the hard work of our health unit,” stated Salter.

Teenager on bike struck by vehicle outside Chilliwack secondary

Pedestrian and cyclist safety around schools was top of mind at Chilliwack secondary as a teenager was hit by a vehicle outside the school.

Firefighters and paramedics were on the scene at the corner of Reece Avenue and Williams Street just after 8 a.m. on Oct. 2. They loaded the boy onto a stretcher to be taken to hospital at around 8:45 a.m.

The incident was captured on a neighbour’s security video that showed the teen ride into the intersection around a blind corner with tall cedar hedges.

School board denies trustee’s $4,000 travel reimbursement

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld hadn’t done much for the district over the year since he stepped back from many trustee duties due to his ongoing and controversial statements about the LGBTQ community, but he did attend a conference in Prague in the summer that he wanted taxpayers should pay for.

“I worked very hard and I came back with enough information for a 30-page report, which I haven’t brought with me tonight, but I believe I’m entitled to this conference, being reimbursed for it,” Neufeld said at the Oct. 2 school board meeting.

He spoke to his own motion for reimbursement totalling $4,027.97 for his summer trip to Europe.

But while trustee Heather Maahs defended Neufeld’s request, the other five trustees called it, alternately, bad optics, irrelevant, nonsensical and unsupportable.

Manslaughter plea in connection with summer ’17 killing

The man charged with the second degree murder of Douglas Presseau downtown Chilliwack pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter in BC Supreme Court.

Kirkland Joseph Russell was charged alongside Victoria Sherri Purcell in connection with the killing on July 7, 2017 that took place on or near Princess Avenue on a busy Friday night.

Presseau was stabbed multiple times in an altercation that involved numerous people and spilled from the street onto the sidewalk and up the driveway of a small apartment unit on Princess.

Victim identified in brazen shooting

One person was dead following a targeted shooting in the Yale Road and Menzies area of Chilliwack Oct. 4.

The RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) said the victim was 27-year-old Kyle Cromarty of Chilliwack.

IHIT reported that the murder was targeted, although Cromarty did not have any known links to gangs nor was he known to police.

Cromarty’s death represented the third and last homicide of 2018.

Chilliwack youth coach in court charged with sexual interference

Day one of a preliminary inquiry into the case of sexual interference by a Chilliwack youth coach began in provincial court.

Codie Alain Anderson – known as Codie Hindle to most in the community – is charged with the 2010 sexual interference of a boy who was 10 or 11 at the time. That witness is now 19 and was in court Thursday along with family members for support.

The 35-year-old Hindle was involved in youth sports in the community for many years coaching basketball at G.W. Graham and with the Chilliwack Sports Academy that put on the Steve Nash Youth Basketball. Sources say he was a constant presence at the Cheam Centre, run then by the YMCA.

Hindle was also involved in running an evening drop-in event for kids called “Freakout Fridays” where youth came for supervised play in the gym and the pool for two hours. And he also ran a program that included a one-night campout.

“I can only imagine how many victims are out there,” the mother of one alleged victim said.

Glass collection to be reinstated

Separate glass collection is returning for curbside customers in Chilliwack.

But it’s going to mean some extra costs, and a new grey container.

Numerous complaints were fielded by city hall staff since glass was taken out of curbside recycling in the spring of 2017. So they’re putting it back, but collected in a separate waste stream, once the new containers arrive.

‘The trust has been broken’

The issue of trust on city council almost took over at the Chilliwack Mayoral Debate.

It was near the very end when boos broke out from some of the capacity crowd at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre.

The atmosphere on-stage was fairly collegial — that is until incumbent mayor Sharon Gaetz said something as a joke, and later drew boos as well as applause from the crowd.

Gaetz tried to make a joke, “unless there are criminals on council,” she said, when asked about the city’s responsibilities which don’t include other levels of government.

“I need to tell you that trust is broken on city council, and I know that Coun. Popove would agree with me, and every councillor that sits here today would agree the trust has been broken.”

Boos could be heard coming from the audience.

“So the thing is….” she said when the booing started.

“I know, boo is right, absolutely,” the incumbent mayor said.

“I would boo too, but it’s rude,” Gaetz said.

“I do want to go on to say, that it is not just in regard to the items that were brought up, and lies that were told to Coun. Chuck Stam in a public forum, but council agreed to send this off for a forensic audit and the RCMP for the entire term,” Gaetz continued.

“This is a serious issue. It is not about overspending,” the incumbent mayor stated.

MOU paves the way for treaty

It was an agreement 20 years in the making.

Leaders from six Sto:lo communities across the Fraser Valley signed an MOU agreement with provincial and federal reps that was focused on inherent rights and paves the way to a final treaty settlement.

“Our goal has been to get out from under the Indian Act and to assert our lawmaking authority on S’ólh Téméxw, our land,” said Chief Terry Horne of Yakweakwioose First Nation.

The six of 11 Sto:lo communities of Sto:lo Nation, have been involved in the stage 5 treaty process for years and “are pleased to now be entering into “final negotiations” for a ground-breaking treaty, Horne added. The MOU takes the place of an agreement-in-principle.

Store on FN land operating under cannabis law

Indigenous Bloom was doing some brisk retail business on the day that cannabis became legal in Canada.

The Ashwell Drive location on Kwaw-Kwaw-A-Pilt First Nation was the only storefront in the Chilliwack area where pot was being sold in October.

The Indigenous Bloom store in Chilliwack was operating and licensed under a new cannabis law passed by Kwaw-Kwaw-A-Pilt officials through their land code, said officials.

Farewell to Councillor Chuck Stam

Coun. Chuck Stam said he was humbled Tuesday as colleagues around the council table shared an outpouring of memories and fond goodbyes.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz said she wanted to single out Coun. Chuck Stam before the term expired.

“I want to wish you, and I know staff wishes you, a wonderful retirement from public life,” Gaetz said.

The post-council life will mean the end of answering frantic questions, and instead of reviewing the jam-packed council agenda on a Friday afternoon, maybe he can enjoy a glass of beer, she said.

“Thank thank you for all your wisdom and gracious ways and the time you spent giving of yourself,” Gaetz said.

Popove wins mayor’s race

Chilliwack’s new mayor is team-building two-term councillor Ken Popove.

“I’m overwhelmed and I’m humbled by the support from the citizens of Chilliwack,” said Popove in the wake of a decisive victory. Popove earned 8,432 votes to become mayor-elect.

He took the lead early in the night, and maintained that edge to the end.

“Believe in me. I’m going to do this. I’m going to make Chilliwack as good as it can be,” said Popove after the final results came in. “And thanks everybody!”

Running on a campaign of getting things done in collaboration, during one of the most engaged and contentious elections in years, Popove pledged to keep working hard, as he gets ready to take over from mayor Sharon Gaetz.

Chilliwack school board reveals clear split

Chilliwack school trustees candidates running under the “progressive” banner won a narrow victory in the city’s municipal election.

Incumbent Dan Coulter was joined by Willow Reichelt, David Swankey and Jared Mumford, meaning they hold four of the seven seats on the board.

Across the table they face controversial incumbent Barry Neufeld along with incumbent Heather Maahs, and newcomer Darrel Furgason.

Chilliwack MLA says PR process is partisan and tainted

British Columbians were on the cusp of an important decision about electoral reform, but critics said the process was so steeped in politics that the outcome will never be respected.

Chilliwack MLA John Martin has been a vocal advocate for the “no” side, but he too says it’s the process, not necessarily proportional representation (PR) itself, that’s bad.

University of the Fraser Valley political science professor Hamish Telford said there had been misinformation and even fear-mongering coming from the “no” side in the PR debate, but he agreed the process was troubling.

Student enrolment up in Chilliwack yet again

There was good news and bad news when it came to Chilliwack’s public schools: enrolment was up yet again.

A higher birth rate coupled with increasing in-migration from other communities means School District 33’s budget will be larger than ever this year.

But that also means schools are only more and more pressed to find seats.

Marine manufacturer relocation means 155 jobs for Chilliwack

More than 150 jobs are coming to Chilliwack with the arrival of a marine manufacturing company.

The City of Chilliwack and the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) announced the relocation of AdvanTec Global Innovations to Chilliwack from its location in the Township of Langley.

Work had already begun to move AdvanTec’s Canadian marine manufacturing operations into the 80,000 square foot facility at 43676 Progress Way.

November

Changes to ALR championed

Agricultural Land Reserve changes were on the right track, according to local leaders.

Crackdowns on both fill contamination and monster houses on farmland were among the changes being lauded.

The concept of “farmland for farming” was front and centre in the changes with the aim of restoring the integrity of the ALR to one zone.

Coun. Chris Kloot, who was a member of Agriculture Minister Lana Popham’s advisory committee, said their approach was “agricultural first” from the start, and the suggested improvements are headed in “the right direction.”

Chilliwack couple receive postcard mailed 38 years ago

When John and Irene Wigham received a postcard at their Fairfield Island home in November they were a little puzzled.

It came from Hawaii from their good friends Leon and Keitha Phillips. But the Phillips hadn’t been to Hawaii for nearly four decades.

Dated Jan. 22, 1980 with a postmark from the Honolulu postmaster that same day, the postcard took close to 39 years to be delivered.

Winter shelter opened on Yale Road

It was an interim fix to address the urgent need to house people in downtown Chilliwack.

A 40-bed shelter was set up in the former Lions Flea Market building on Yale Road East at Williams Street.

The “24/7 Winter Shelter” will be operated by Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, funded by BC Housing, in collaboration with City of Chilliwack. It will provide daytime shelter, and emergency beds at night for the people living precariously in the downtown core, and in makeshift camps all over town.

Chilliwack Restorative Justice wins big during national Restorative Justice Week

As the leaves changed colours and fell from treetops, Chilliwack’s local Restorative Justice association rang in Restorative Justice Week (Nov. 18 to 25) with a couple of top-notch personal achievements: first, one of their employees, Mike Straiton, won the University of Fraser Valley’s Betty Urquhart Community Service Award, and then the organization as a whole won the 2019 Project Change Foundation grant for all of its hard work.

“What we do is take people who have committed lower-level crimes and we bring them together with their victims and oversee the process as the victim and the person responsible for the crime work out a legally binding agreement that will help fix the harm that was done,” explained Amanda Macpherson, executive director for the Chilliwack Restorative Justice and Youth Advocacy Association.

Restorative justice breaks through age, race, and gender barriers, levels the playing field, and enables people to live better lives going forward, added Macpherson. “I’d like to see it become more of a common place occurrence. So many don’t know or think it doesn’t work, (so) I’d just like people to know what we do and how it actually works to benefit (everyone involved).”

Wendy Bales elected to FVRD board in 50/50 draw

The names of the two lead candidates for Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) director of Electoral Area C were printed on two sheets of paper on Nov. 2, dropped into a box, and the winner of the election was chosen.

Wendy Bales won the drawing of lots, an unusual process used in many municipalities after a tie election.

Both Bales and her opponent Annie Silver received 136 votes in the Oct. 20 election, leading to the judicial recount at the Chilliwack courthouse.

Local child care centre part of ‘universal’ test case

Jocelyn Thomas felt a little like her family won the child care lottery as the Chilliwack mother will see a huge reduction in monthly fees thanks to a provincial announcement.

Elm Drive YMCA Child Care in Chilliwack is one of 53 facilities chosen across the province where families now pay no more than $200 a month per child.

“I think it’s really good,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of families that will benefit from this, and even those naysayers without kids or with older kids, I think if it helped one family in our community, that’s a good thing.”

Marijuana may be legal across Canada, but is it publicly accepted in Chilliwack?

On October 17, 2018, Canada became the second country in the world to federally legalize the consumption of cannabis, ending nearly a century of prohibition. But six weeks later, many of Chilliwack’s cannabis users were still wondering if anything was different.

“There’s still lots of mystery behind (marijuana),” said Dr. Steven Esau, manager of the Fraser Region Youth Addiction Centre. “The lack of knowledge of what’s behind cannabis and what it does to the human body … (may be part of) people’s hesitancy in accepting (it). We don’t totally know its magnitude of affect on the development of the brain.”

However, Connie Sanders says she feels like the disdain for marijuana use has been ingrained in our culture and everyone has an opinion on those who use it.

“So what’s different, really? Not much except it gives me more power in my chest so if I’m somewhere and I’m not feeling well, now I can (legally) say, ‘I’m going to smoke a joint,’ but I know people will still stare,” continued Sanders. But “why can’t it be accepted like going to have a drink of wine?” she wondered rhetorically. “Personally, I’d much rather smoke than drink.”

Reformed right-wing extremist loses battle to stay in Canada

After 13 challenging years in Chilliwack battling to stay in Canada, Nick Cooper may have finally lost the fight to prove to the government he is a changed man.

Cooper was involved in a white supremacist organization near London, England in the 1990s, but a change of heart by way of a maternity ward conversion flipped his ideas on their head.

When his wife and daughter’s life were saved by a doctor of Indian descent and a nurse who was Afro-Caribbean during an emergency C-section, Cooper suddenly recognized the insanity of his extremist worldview.

In early November, the Canada Border Services Agency ordered Cooper out of Canada by Nov. 30. He left that day and is now in England.

Chilliwack drug overdose deaths in 2018 already surpass 2017

Chilliwack saw more illegal drug overdose deaths by the end of September than all of 2017.

Of the 15 top communities for overdose deaths, only Prince George and Chilliwack saw that level of increase, according to third quarter data released by the BC Coroners Service.

By the end of September there were 25 fatal overdoses in the city up from 23 for all of 2017. In 2016, there were 12, 2015 saw 10. And in the seven years between 2008 and 2014 there were a total of 36, or an average of 5.14 a year.

Teacher suspended for touching colleague’s buttocks

A Chilliwack teacher who repeatedly touched a colleague on the buttocks was handed a five-day, retroactive suspension by the branch of the Ministry of Education that governs teachers.

The Teacher Regulation Branch (TRB) posted the resolution agreement between the commissioner of the TRB and Lancer Kevin Price on its website.

On three separate occasions in 2017 Price harassed an unnamed colleague by touching her or him on the buttocks. That colleague “reported feeling very uncomfortable by these incidents.”

School board to foot $30,000-plus bill for judicial recount

The Chilliwack school district faced a bill of between $30,000 and $35,000 for the judicial recount into the results of the Oct. 20 election.

That was the preliminary estimate provided by the City of Chilliwack, which conducted the recount on behalf of the district. City hall said on Nov. 20 that some of the bills for the recount were still trickling in, including legal costs, which has led to the delay in producing an accurate figure.

The recount came about after the election that saw the final seat on the school board go to Jared Mumford with 7,045 votes, just 34 votes ahead of Kaethe Jones with 7,011 votes.

The recount changed that margin by one vote.

10-year jail sentence for man who killed girlfriend with hammer

Deep in the throes of a multi-day crack cocaine binge two years ago, Ryan Jack Armstrong kept working at his day job as a carpenter.

But he wasn’t sleeping and he was developing paranoid delusions that would lead to a tragedy that landed him a 10-year jail sentence in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Wednesday.

Armstrong killed his roommate 28-year-old Victoria Norma Heppner with a hammer, then burned her body on a forest service road in Mission.

Valley Rail Trail ready to go

Construction wrapped up on the Valley Rail Trail expansion — the future north-south spine for cyclists.

A cantilever bridge was attached to the rail overpass over Highway 1, from just north of where the trail crosses Luckakuck Way. The work was finally done, after being underway most of the year.

Child welfare shifts to FN control

It was a clear indication the federal government is dead serious about cutting the numbers of Indigenous kids in foster care.

With a vow there will be “no more scooping children” and “no more ripping apart families,” Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott announced that the federal government was ready to hand over jurisdictional control of child welfare services to Indigenous governments.

“This is big, and I was really excited to hear it today,” said Grand Chief Doug Kelly, president of the Sto:lo Tribal Council, and chair of the First Nations Health Council.

December

School district to purchase former UFV site

As Christmas neared, Chilliwack learned the former grounds of the University of the Fraser Valley could soon be home to the city’s newest school, thanks to a $10 million funding promise from the Ministry of Education.

“With the purchase of this land and buildings, students in the growing Chilliwack School District will have a great new place to learn,” said Rob Fleming, education minister. “Converting this former university space into a new school is not only good news for families in Chilliwack, it’s also a smart investment in a fast-growing school district.”

“The Chilliwack Board of Education is delighted with this announcement, which is a priority in our five-year capital plan,” said Dan Coulter, Chilliwack Board of Education chair. “I think the minstry has rightly recognized our need and are willing to invest in capital projects to help us get the instructional space our students need.”

Burst pipe marks another delay in the re-opening of new YMCA

As December rolled to a close, the Chilliwack YMCA announced it had to delay its reopening a third time due to unforeseen circumstances: a pipe in the basement burst and created a flood on the pool level.

This caused damage to critical equipment, pool systems, and the building’s hot water.

“Some of the equipment can be ordered, but replacement parts will take time (to arrive),” explained Karen Price, who’s the director of the local Y branch. “The end result is adjusting the reopening.”

As it stands, Chilliwack’s updated YMCA is now scheduled for a two-part re-opening: on February 18, the facility will host a dry opening, which will be everything but the pool, and Price says she hopes the pool will be ready for public use by the end of March.

High security at Chinese VIP gambler’s Greendale compound

It was revealed in December that a Greendale property long a curiosity for neighbours is in fact owned by a Chinese gambling VIP connected to the RCMP’s probe of money laundering at Richmond’s River Rock Casino.

The 11-acres consisting of two properties is surrounded by two layers of 15-foot-high cedar hedging in between which is chain link fence. Peeking out atop the high landscaped barrier are no fewer than 32 security cameras. Inside is a 10,000-square-foot home with seven bedrooms and nine bathrooms, and an underground garage full of luxury vehicles and antiques.

According to a Global News report, the house was built by 56-year-old Rongxiang “Tiger” Yuan, a man reportedly tied to the Chinese military who owns both a gun shop in the Lower Mainland and an extensive firearms collection.

Young father of three killed in workplace accident

A tragic workplace accident left three young Chilliwack children without their father less than a month before Christmas.

The death of Nathan Appleton after a pre-fabricated wall fell from a crane on him on a construction site in New Westminster also meant the mother of his children is without her spouse, and his parents are without their 28-year-old son.

The only glimmer of positive coming from the tragic death of Nathan, according to his father Mark, is that as many as seven other people will receive or already have received organ donations.

Board votes to keep Trustee Neufeld out of schools

Controversial Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld won’t be seen in any schools in the district as a liaison for the board.

Neufeld’s repeated comments about the LGBTQ community over the last year, and the distress it caused to some teachers and students, led board chair Dan Coulter to put forth a motion to remove his name from the list of trustees who will serve as school liaisons.

The discussion that followed was heated and followed along predictable lines with Neufeld and his two-fellow trustees who have also expressed opposition to the anti-bullying resource SOGI 123 against the four trustees in support of the resource.

Neufeld called the move to exclude him discriminatory.

Trustees Willow Reichelt, Jared Mumford and David Swankey spoke in favour of Coulter’s motion and the need to ensure Neufeld is not in contact with students or teachers in a liaison role.

Cemetery owner says he’s running out of burial space

Finding a place to live is essential but there is also a growing shortage of places to be when people in Chilliwack die.

Four years ago Vedder View Gardens Cemetery owner Greg Peterson warned that if his application to the Agricultural Land Commission for non-farm use of an adjacent property was rejected, in four years Chilliwack could face a shortage of property for casket burials.

That time is up and the ALC has rejected his multiple applications for non-farm use on a portion of a property in the Agricultural Land Reserve to expand the Watson Road cemetery.

Four firms vie to open pot stores

Rezoning applications from four companies are in the queue at city hall for non-medical cannabis retail stores.

The Central Cannabis Company Inc. is one of the applicants, looking to rezone property at 42228 Yarrow Central Road to C9, for a private retail cannabis outlet.

“Chilliwack will be our first store,” Amar Sandhu, Central Cannabis co-owner said.

Local company and owner faces charges for 2017 abuse of chickens

A Chilliwack company, its owner, and an Ontario company face a total of 38 charges under the Health of Animals Regulations in connection with alleged animal abuse caught on video at Fraser Valley poultry farms 18 months ago.

The charges come as a result of an investigation by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) following receipt of an undercover video.

Facing 38 charges are Elite Farm Services Ltd., the company’s owner Dwayne Paul Dueck from Chilliwack, and Sofina Foods Inc./Aliments Sofina Inc., Markham, Ont. They are next due in court Jan. 22.

Jury acquits man of choking, violent sexual assaults of girlfriends

A man accused of violently raping two girlfriends, criminally harassing one of them, and threatening a male was found not guilty of the substantive charges by a jury in BC Supreme Court.

The eight women and four men found Michael Sean Myers guilty of the criminal harassment of one woman, whose name cannot be printed due to a publication ban. The jury also found Myers guilty of uttering threats to a male connected to one of the women.

But the jury concluded there was a reasonable doubt that Myers forcibly had anal intercourse with a woman who was left injured by the act. He was charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm for that incident.

“I am shocked that they found him not guilty on all the serious charges,” one victim told The Progress.

Eastern Fraser Valley voted overwhelming to reject pro rep

While British Columbians as a whole rejected the idea of proportional representation, in the Eastern Fraser Valley the decision to stand by the status quo was even stronger.

Just over 61 per cent of participating voters opted to stay with the first-past-the-post system in the provinces mail-in referendum.

But in the electoral of Chilliwack and Chilliwack-Kent, the results were 74.5 per cent and 75 per cent respectively. Those three-to-one votes to stick with first past the post (FPTP) put the two local areas eighth and ninth out of 87 ridings in the province.

New park on the hillsides

The new park in the Eastern Hillsides of Chilliwack will be known as Lexw Qwo:m Park. The name — pronounced luhw KWOM — was chosen because it means “always lots of moss” in Halqu’emeylem, and aptly describes the rainforest characteristics of the 3.5-hectare park.

It is the latest project by the Chilliwack Park Society, along with City of Chilliwack, Sto:lo reps, and hundreds of volunteers, including a connector trail to the Community Forest from the valley floor.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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