A slide closed the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Transportation BC/Twitter)

A slide closed the Coquihalla between Hope and Merritt on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Transportation BC/Twitter)

OPINION: OK 2021, what in the ever-loving heck was that?

So much bad news indeed last year but we always have hope, we have to

OK 2021, what in the ever-loving heck was that?

There is almost no way to write a column about 2021 without sounding trite. There was so much hyperbole used to describe 2020, what more can we say about 2021?

This was a year of “evers.”

Wettest ever. Hottest ever. Coldest ever. Most expensive housing ever. Most opioid deaths ever. Least amount of produce ever seen on grocery store shelves. Most attention ever on Indigenous issues.

The year began with an element of hope as we put 2020 behind us, vaccinations were on the horizon. There was light at the end of the tunnel. In May, the province laid out a four-step plan for life to get back to normal as vaccinations were happening, cases and hospitalizations dropped.

But the waves kept coming one Greek letter at a time.

Somewhat lost in all the dramatic news was the ongoing crisis of deaths due to the toxic illicit drug supply. The year started with a warning from Fraser Health about carfentanil on the streets. By the end of October, 46 people lost their lives in Chilliwack, more in 10 months than in any year previously.

By way of other big news, the 215 unmarked graves of children discovered at the former Kamloops Residential School in late May changed plans for Canada Day. It changed Canada.

Then came the weather. Two terms most of us had never heard before became commonplace: Heat dome and atmospheric river.

In late June, Chilliwack hit three all-time temperature highs one day after another culminating in a sweltering 43 C on June 28. As uncomfortable as that was for most of us, it was downright deadly for animals and humans alike.

We wouldn’t learn from the BC Coroners Service until later in the year that the extreme heat killed 595 people in B.C. between June 18 and Aug. 12 including 22 in Chilliwack.

Then Lytton hit 49.6 C becoming the hottest place ever in Canada and subsequently 90 per cent of the village burned to the ground.

Yes, it was not a good year.

We also saw, and continue to see, anti-vaxxers with heads filled with lies, threaten lives and prolong this pandemic. The disinformation and misinformation spread has become toxic to our culture.

I haven’t even mentioned the mental health crisis, exacerbated by COVID fatigue and our ongoing weather disasters.

Then came the rain. The year was already a multi-pronged gong show then Chilliwack saw 615.6 millimetres (mm) of rain in November including 154.6 mm on one day.

Several atmospheric rivers led to catastrophic flooding killing hundreds of animals, destroying property and livelihoods along the way.

But as we so often see over the years, I think particularly here in Chilliwack, tragedy and chaos seems to bring out the best in the community.

This year’s Christmas adopt-a-senior program helped nearly 1,000 older folks. We saw farmers helping farmers by taking dairy cows to higher ground. Volunteer sandbaggers came out of the woodwork to protect properties.

Then there is the innovation and resilience we see even from our government and local companies and experts and scientists. When I saw those first photographs of the Coquihalla after the debris slides shattered the highway in November, I guessed it would be June before we would see a vehicle back on Highway 5. Getting it even possible to travel on for commercial vehicles by Dec. 20 was an engineering feat hard to fathom.

The fragility of our supply chain was on full display as landslides and flooding blocked highways. But road engineers, construction crews and truck drivers showed themselves to be the unsung heroes of the latter part of 2021. We all need to get around and if we don’t, we all need groceries and supplies to be brought to us, and those men and women make it happen.

When the heat came, people distributed water. When the rain came, people filled sandbags.

Here’s to better days ahead in 2022 for Chilliwack.

There is indeed always hope, there has to be.

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2021 Year in ReviewBC Opinions

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