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2020 Year in Review: January and February

JANUARY • Sunshine Coast Hospice Society hosted a poignant gathering at Mission Point on Jan. 1, called Lighting of the Memories, an annual event for “those grieving the loss of someone dear.
Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) members blocked a logging crew’s access to the Clack Creek Forest in several demonstrations in January. Squamish-based Black Mount Logging was granted an injunction against any attempts by the protesters to block crews from working in cutblock A93884. Protests continued after Black Mount resumed cutting Feb. 4. ELF member Laurie Bloom was arrested Feb. 6 at a demonstration on the B&K logging road.


• Sunshine Coast Hospice Society hosted a poignant gathering at Mission Point on Jan. 1, called Lighting of the Memories, an annual event for “those grieving the loss of someone dear.”

• Parents Deborah Martens and Scott Bruce welcomed their son on Jan. 6. Griffin Forrest Russell Bruce was born in a bit of a hurry on the front porch of their home in Roberts Creek, the first Sunshine Coast baby of the decade.

• Former Sunshine Coast ElderCollege board member and retired nurse Laurean Reid was presented with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers on Jan. 10.

• The District of Sechelt lowered the flags on municipal buildings to half-mast on Jan. 11 in remembrance of former councillor Mike Shanks. Shanks died Dec. 2, 2019 at the age of 76.

• A series of storms rolled through the Coast from Jan. 10 to 17 bringing high winds, overnight lows below zero, snow and rain. RainCity Housing’s year-round homeless shelter in Sechelt and the winter response shelter in Gibsons stayed open throughout, even though the weather forced many other public services to close.

• Almost a year after the neighbourhood was evacuated over sinkhole fears, BC Assessment has declared the homes in Seawatch essentially worthless. The properties, valued in most cases at more than $1 million in 2019 have now been assessed at just $2.

• A contract worth $2.3 million was awarded to Waste Management to operate a food waste curbside collection program in the rural areas of the Sunshine Coast.

• Snowfall records were set as seven separate storms crossed the Coast in one week, leading to school closures, ferry cancellations and disrupted transit services. Downed trees knocked out power to more than 4,000 Sunshine Coast homes.

• Jakob Thornton and Nolan Johnson received Good Samaritan Awards for their role in the rescue of Paul Jones, a 90-year-old man who they discovered trapped in his SUV on the side of a logging road in Pender Harbour. Jones was fully recovered from the three-day ordeal.

• A man was taken into custody and was facing a firearms charge following an incident in Halfmoon Bay involving the RCMP’s Lower Mainland Integrated Emergency Response Team.

• Sunshine Coast RCMP were investigating several break-ins at a number of unoccupied residences in Sechelt’s Seawatch neighbourhood.

• Members of shíshálh Nation attended all-candidates meetings with incumbent Warren Paull as well as Nievelina Carmona, Randy Joe and Lenora Joe on the ballot for chief. The Feb. 15 election will be the first where, thanks to a change in the shíshálh constitution, nation members living elsewhere are eligible to vote.

• Medical health officers with Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) were closely monitoring the situation in Wuhan, China after the discovery “a cluster of atypical pneumonia” cases on Dec. 31, which then spread to Canada.

• New equipment and capital upgrades worth $3.4 million were planned for Sechelt Hospital, pending budget adoption. A list of needed medical equipment was detailed by VCH director Gerry Latham at the Jan. 23 Sunshine Coast Regional Hospital District meeting.

• Pender Harbour resident Brad Clarke was “euphoric” when he received permission from the Ministry of Natural Resources to build a private dock at his waterfront property, making his the first application green-lit by the province under the Pender Harbour Dock Management Plan. A small team installed the structure over three days, starting Jan. 23.

• On Jan. 28, Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirmed B.C.’s first case of the coronavirus, known as 2019 nCov or “novel coronavirus.”

• The shíshálh Nation purchased the Porpoise Bay land that was the proposed Sechelt Sustainable Community site for $15 million. Chief Warren Paull said the 160.6-hectare (396.9-acre) property “was too good to pass up.”


• The Jellyfish Project, a homegrown initiative that combines music and education to inspire and inform youth about environmental issues, returned to Coast schools in early February.

• The Coast was hit by another major weather system on Feb. 4, with heavy wet snow causing traffic disruptions and slippery road conditions. Several vehicles heading up the Langdale bypass became stranded and a school bus was forced to turn around and drive in the opposite direction to clear the road.

• Trellis Seniors’ Services long-term care project came back to Sechelt council Feb. 5. Silverstone is one of three long-term care homes Trellis was contracted to build and operate for VCH in 2016. The proposal presented at the Feb. 5 council meeting is “substantially the same form” as the proposal that went before the last council.

• Sechelt councillors chose a new corporate logo designed to position Sechelt as “the heart of the Sunshine Coast.”

• Developers filed an application for the Five Corners project in Gibsons Landing. The property owners were ready to move ahead with a commercial development in two storeys with an underground parking area off Molly’s Lane.

• Gibsons Public Market was hopping on Feb. 8 for the sixth annual Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Festival, hosted by Persephone Brewing Co. The sold-out event raised close to $10,000 for the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living.

• Batch 44 Brewery and Kitchen in Sechelt opened Feb. 8, becoming the first craft beverage maker to take advantage of the zoning changes allowing microbreweries, micro distilleries and tasting lounges in the downtown core.

• Local craft distillers Bruinwood Estate Distillery and 101 Brewery & Distillery came away winners at this year’s Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition, which judges craft spirits from across the country.

• Sunshine Coast Search and Rescue and a helicopter crew from Comox were called out Feb. 12 to get an injured person out of Tetrahedron Provincial Park.

• A meeting was held Feb. 13 in Egmont for residents to speak directly with BC Timber Sales (BCTS) and Tsain-Ko representatives about concerns over logging in the area.

• The Town of Gibsons was working on a policy for cannabis retail and production, and a temporary use permit application by Coastal Bay Cannabis for a cannabis store in upper Gibsons.

• No forensic exams had been available at Sechelt Hospital for sexual assault victims since August 2019. To address the gap in service, VCH put two nurses through training at BCIT to become certified sexual assault nurse examiners.

• The state of local emergency, evacuation order and alert affecting an area of Roberts Creek was extended to Feb. 23. The 1800 block of Lower Road remained closed and traffic, including buses, was being detoured through Joe Road.

• The BC Geographical Names Office was reviewing proposals from the shíshálh Nation to officially adopt new names for “several geographical features in the shíshálh swiya,” including Wilson Creek (ts’ukw’um), Madeira Park (salalus) and Saltery Bay (skelhp).

• Sunshine Coast Regional District directors unanimously agreed to increase staffing numbers by a total amount that was higher than the last 10 years combined. Directors approved 15 full-time equivalents, bringing the total at the regional district to 213.

• BC Timber Sales and Tsain-Ko agreed to meet with residents for a second time after hearing their concerns that logging in the Egmont area could threaten drinking water, harm the economy and create traffic problems during tourist season.

• Demonstrators showing solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the Coastal Gaslink pipeline continued their actions Feb. 14.

• A male great horned owl was the 10,000th patient to be admitted to Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. He was brought in after becoming entangled in garden netting. After about a week in care, he was released back into the wild. 

• Two local cannabis shops (Sun Coast Culture in Sechelt and S&M Medicinal Sweet Shoppe in Gibsons) had their product seized Feb. 18 by the Community Safety Unit, the provincial agency responsible for enforcing regulations around cannabis retailers. Demonstrators gathered Feb. 21 outside the office of MLA Nicholas Simons to protest the raids.

• Ginger Jars and High Beam Dreams, both of Gibsons, were among the winners at the Small Business BC Awards, handed out Feb. 21 at a ceremony in Vancouver.

• A state of local emergency and an evacuation order and alert that were in effect in areas of Roberts Creek since the start of February were lifted on Feb. 21, and residents were allowed to return to the area. 

• A retirement party for Deb Cole, the long-time manager of the Pender Harbour Aquatic Centre, was held Feb. 22 at the PH Community Hall.

• “Due to repeated vandalism,” the District of Sechelt installed a new fixed fence around the evacuated Seawatch neighbourhood, just over a year after the residents were forced to move out due to sinkhole activity.

• On Feb. 28, the Passenger Transportation Board approved an application submitted by Coastal Rides ride hailing service, which would be available through a smartphone application.

• Possible archeological artifacts were discovered during work to install a storm sewer line on Trail Avenue. Work was halted immediately, and 54 test pits had been dug as of Feb. 28 in the construction zone between Surf Circle and Pebbles Crescent.

• Lower Road in Roberts Creek was reopened to two-way traffic as of Feb. 28. The 1800 block of the road was closed at the start of February after a washout exposed gas lines and a regional water main.

• Sunshine Coast RCMP were investigating after a vehicle slammed into the front of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy in Wilson Creek on Feb. 28. No one was hurt, and police were not certain what caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.