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Here are the top North Shore News stories of 2023

Were you paying attention? This should help catch you up.

Inflation across the nation? Interest rates catch your interest? Smell of smoke in the air?

North Shore News editorial staff have done a sweep of the 2023 archives to compile our annual list of the biggest stories that impacted our lives, revealed new truths and got us talking. Here’s what we came up with:

Social issues

The rising cost of living, especially inflation of food prices, was one of the defining issues of 2023.

The Greater Vancouver Food Bank reported previously unthinkable numbers of new clients registering for help with basic nutrition, with more than 900 new people signing up in March alone.

A study by BC Centre for Disease Control found that groceries sold on the North Shore are the second-most expensive in the province at about $1,379 per month – more than $100 higher than the B.C. average. Purchasing the same goods in Richmond would cost about $200 less.

The 2023 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count documented 168 people living without permanent shelter on the North Shore, a 39-per-cent rise since 2020. And, advocates warn, the homeless count usually only reveals a fraction of the actual number.

The Harvest Project, meanwhile, marked 30 years of successes in their mission to “give a hand up, not a hand out” for people facing poverty, food insecurity and precarious living arrangements.

House and home

As always, the housing topic was as hot as the market itself, with assessments up between six and 11 per cent in January.

A CMHC report found average two-bedroom rents on the North Shore ranged from $2,058 in the City of North Vancouver to $4,538 in the District of West Vancouver – among the highest in the country. The report also found landlords boosted rents by an average of 24 per cent after a tenant moves out and a new one signs a lease.

The District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver wound up on the housing minister’s “naughty list” and were told they must see through to completion more than 4,000 new strata and rental homes in the next five years.

The District of West Van broke ground on long-awaited below-market rental housing and a seniors’ respite on Gordon Avenue, while DNV council approved a controversial affordable housing project on Old Lillooet Road. Another even more controversial supportive housing proposal on Keith Road for people facing homelessness awaits a final vote by DNV council after a public hearing which is now stretching into its fifth night. The City of North Vancouver and the province came to the rescue of an already-approved affordable housing project at North Shore Neighbourhood House, which required bailout money after inflation threatened its viability.

DNV council came within a couple of votes that would legalize and regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb, limiting them to within the principal residence of the host. Council stopped short however when the province announced strict new STR new rules coming 2024.

And the Squamish Nation received funding for an affordable housing project that which will support 95 members living in the community of Xwemelch’stn (Capilano 5 Reserve).

Crime and punishment

The man responsible for the Lynn Valley stabbings in March 2021 pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder, five counts of attempted murder and one count of aggravated assault.

After heart-rending victim impact statements were read out in court, a B.C. Supreme Court judge sentenced Yannick Bandaogo, 30, to life in prison with no chance of parole for 15 years.

At his sentencing Bandaogo took responsibility for the murder but could not explain to the court what his motivation was.

In March, 55-year-old Francis Amir Este, a former doctor, died after being stabbed in the underground parking lot of an apartment building on the 2100-block of Argyle Avenue. Este was frequently at the apartment to care for his elderly mother. Homicide investigators later released surveillance images of two suspects but the murder remains unsolved.

The man who perpetrated a hoax at the Lynn Valley Care Centre in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, tricking nurses and staff into staying home, received his sentence in North Vancouver Provincial Court. Taymour Aghtai received two years’ jail after pleaded guilty to one charge of conveying a false message with intent to alarm, but because he had been in custody since September 2020, it did not any further jail time onto his sentence.


The province announced funding for a $64 million school on the site of the former Cloverley Elementary. Designs are well underway, but neighbours are campaigning to have the project built on the west side of the property to reduce the amount of park land that will be lost.

Mountainside Secondary’s $23.7-million seismic upgrade was completed in April.

The province announced in April that teachers would no longer be using letter grades and percentages as marks for students in Grades 8 and 9. Instead, students in their first two years of high school will be given a description on a four-point provincial “proficiency scale.”

About 4,300 students at Capilano University students had classes cancelled for a month after the university’s unionized support staff went on strike and faculty association members refused to cross the picket line.

Municipal politics

In June it was revealed that West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager was under investigation for workplace bullying following a formal complaint from a staff member. Sager refused to comment on “malicious rumours” and the results of the investigation were not made public.

In November, Elections B.C. confirmed that it had called on the Port Moody Police Department to assist in a campaign finance investigation after staff found “irregularities” in Sager’s spending disclosure forms. Sager said he did nothing wrong.

Business and economy

Despite supply chain challenges and cost pressures, things kept steaming along at Seaspan, the North Shore’s largest private employer. The shipbuilding firm announced they had signed more than $2 billion contracts over the last 10 years. In 2023, Seaspan launched the world’s first battery electric tugboat, marked major milestones in construction of new ships for the Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Coast Guard, and the company received Vancouver Fraser Port Authority approval to expand their Lower Lonsdale drydock operations.

Sadly, the North Shore lost a lot of familiar small businesses, some because of skyrocketing rents and labour costs and others because they could not cover COVID-era business loans. The Black Bear Pub and Oasis Car Wash were among of them, (although the car wash did donate two of their iconic signs to MONOVA: The Museum of North Vancouver.)

B.C.’s 70,000-plus film workers, including at least 5,000 on the North Shore were out of work for much of 2023, thanks to Hollywood-based labour disputes involving writers, actors and studios. Those strikes came to an end in September and December.

District of North Vancouver council gave approval for HTEC to build a B.C.’s largest hydrogen plant on top of ERCO Worldwide’s Maplewood chlor-alkali plant. The estimated $140-million investment should capture enough waste hydrogen to power 30,000 vehicles annually.

The new North Shore Wastewater Treatment plant remains stalled while a Metro Vancouver task force comes up with a plan to get the plant, which some estimates now say could cost $4 billion, back on track.


No teleportation or cross-inlet slingshot yet, but that doesn’t mean progress wasn’t made.

The TransLink Mayors’ Council confirmed a bus rapid transit line from Park Royal to Metrotown would be at top of the priority list for the next round of transit expansion. The mayors currently are lobbying senior levels of government to show up with the funding that will make it possible.

After a two-year pilot project with Lime Bikes, the three North Shore municipalities resolved to extend the e-bike share program and eventually make it permanent – although it won’t necessarily be Lime operating after 2024.

In January, the DNV opened the new Spirit Trail Bridge over Lynn Creek, which connects the burgeoning neighbourhood of towers on the east side to shopping at Park & Tilford. What used to be a 17-minute walk via Keith Road now takes about seven minutes.

After much lobbying, TransLink restored an express bus connecting West Vancouver to UBC, which had previously been halted at the start of the pandemic.

The great outdoors

There were not one but two wildfires in the North Shore mountains this summer. In July, 3,000 square metres of Mount Seymour burned, requiring a heavy response from Metro Vancouver wildfire crews and water bombers. Weeks after the fire was out, investigators confirmed it started at the site of an unsanctioned cabin, well off the beaten path of any trail.

In June, West Vancouver Fire & Rescue led the effort to douse a fast-moving fire burning on the slopes above Horseshoe Bay. It grew to one hectare in size and required an air tanker and water bombers to put out. Because it started in the grass adjacent to a highway rest stop, investigators concluded it most certainly was human caused, with unextinguished smoking material being the most likely culprit.

The Village of Lions Bay made the highly controversial decision to close all of the trailheads on municipal land for almost a month over concerns about fire risk on the trails. The move prompted pushback from trail advocates, rescue volunteers and even Lions Bay’s own fire chief. When council voted keep the trails closed even after wildfire risk had been abated by rain, the village drew accusations it was simply trying to keep outsiders away.

The Department of National Defence announced that explosives experts would be back combing the Blair Rifle Range Lands looking for unexploded bombs left in the soil from the area’s time as a military training ground from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Indigenous Nations

This summer marked 100 years since the chiefs of 16 First Nations villages came together and signed a document amalgamating them into one – the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). To celebrate the milestone, the Nation held a month of festivities including canoe racing, cultural displays and ceremonies, a healing and wellness gathering and a concert at Ambleside Beach.

The Squamish leadership went public with ambitious plans to develop 350 acres of the Nation’s reserve land, mostly on the North Shore. They also forged ahead with plans for the development Senakw, a 6,000-unit rental project on the Nation’s land next to the Burrard Bridge.

In September, they signed an agreement with the federal government formally taking back jurisdiction over education on their lands.

The səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation), meanwhile, completed work on a major, four-year long environmental restoration project including restoration of eelgrass beds, replanting the shoreline with native species and removing toxic creosote. The project, leaders said, was a recognition that the health of the people is tied directly to the health of the inlet.

The Tsleil-Waututh closed their long running Takaya Golf Centre to make way for a new artificial turf field for their nation’s soccer athletes but also for league rentals, and the Nation launched a project to build a traditional longhouse.


The effects of a changing climate were all too apparent on the North Shore. Metro Vancouver data showed that snowpack levels in the North Shore Mountains had decreased by almost 50 per cent since 1976. In July, Metro data revealed water flowing into Capilano Lake – one of three critical reservoirs that supply the region with fresh water – had reached the second-lowest level in recorded history. Despite the parched conditions, West Vancouver hadn’t issued any fines for illegal watering.

A North Vancouver judge fined highway contractor Keller Foundations $1 million after a 2018 spill at their construction site killed 85 cutthroat trout in Larson Creek.

In October, West Vancouver Streamkeepers volunteers found at least 40 coho salmon on Brothers Creek, killed as they were returning to spawn. The most likely culprit was 6PPD-quinone – a toxic chemical sprayed on tires that builds up on the roadside before being washed into the creeks by stormwater.

Streamkeepers in North Vancouver, meanwhile, brought in a walking “spider excavator” for a habitat restoration project on Lynn Creek.

Conservation officers put down a severely emaciated bear, which advocates believe likely had an intestinal blockage due to eating too much human garbage.

A West Van man was fined $5,000 for deliberately feeding bears and posting videos of it on social media, while another was charged under the Wildlife Act for deliberately feeding bears near Klee Wyck Park.

Oceanwise launched a project at the Pacific Science Enterprise Centre in West Vancouver aimed at replanting the world’s lost kelp forests, which sequester carbon, provide critical habitat and attenuate coastal erosion.

Talk of the town

In January, Lynn Valley's Connor Bedard lit up the world junior hockey championships on his way to earning MVP honours while leading the tournament in scoring and setting a Canadian record for career points. In June, Bedard was the first overall draft pick in the NHL. In his first 31 games with the Chicago Blackhawks, he put up 12 goals and 16 assists.

An Ambleside waterfront home that once belonged to billionaire Jimmy Pattison was put on the market for $1. West Vancouver acquired the property from Pattison in a land swap with plans to turn it into park space.

District of West Van bylaw officers stepped in to break up a regular "sex-positive" party at a mansion above Horseshoe Bay after neighbours complained about zoning infractions, parking problems and noise.

A Tesla driver told police and ICBC that he’d been carjacked after his Model S was found crashed on the Sea to Sky Highway. The vehicle’s computer, however, snitched to investigators about what really happened and the man was fined almost $6,000 for providing false information under the Insurance Vehicle Act.

And a Lynn Valley cyclist was hospitalized briefly after he T-boned a bear while riding down the paved pathway in the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve.

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