If you check your calendar or the date at the top of this page, you’ll see 2022 is nearly at an end.
You’ll be forgiven if it all seems to have gone by in a bit of a blur. As always, the newsroom staff have compiled a year in review to help jog your memory about some of the things that stood out in the last 12 months. Don’t worry. This won’t be on the test.
Health and COVID-19
Make no mistake – the coronavirus is sticking around. But 2022 was the year that it stopped being the undercurrent to all things in daily life. Despite surges of the Omicron variant in both the winter and summer, almost all public health restrictions related to the pandemic were walked back. Updates from the province and Dr. Bonnie Henry became fewer and farther between, and stories about the illness and its impact on society waned from their prominence in the headlines.
We reported on desperate short-staffing at Lions Gate Hospital and the difficulty in getting primary patient care as family doctors and nurses faced total burnout. This was exacerbated by other respiratory illnesses like influenza and RSV coming roaring back.
Mores positive news, however, was the opening of a new 12-bed high acuity unit at the hospital.
War in Ukraine
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, North Shore residents stepped up to offer what they could. We reported on local families finding room for incoming refugees and rallying to raise money and supplies to help alleviate the humanitarian crisis developing, including a 200-bed field hospital found in storage by a local firefighter.
Truth and Reconciliation
Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Elder and Catholic Church Deacon Rennie Nahanee sat near Pope Francis as the Pontiff delivered his apology for the church’s role in residential schools. Reaction from residential school survivors was mixed, with some saying the apology was "too little too late.”
The Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) forged ahead with ambitious plans for Senakw, a 6,000-unit rental housing project on 4.7 hectares of land belonging to the nation in Kitsilano. The project is partly financed by a $1.4 billion loan from the federal government.
To mark the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Tsleil-Waututh survivors of the St. Paul’s Indian Residential School and their descendants marched from their reserve lands to the former site of the school.
The Squamish Nation launched its own independent census of its citizens.
Both North Shore First Nations welcomed the province’s announcement that students would need four credits from Indigenous-focused courses before graduating, which local Indigenous educators expressed hope would lead to deeper understanding about the breadth of different cultures that fall under the term “Indigenous.”
The reconciliation movement suffered a setback in November though, as both the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh’s leadership denounced West Vancouver Mayor Mark Sager’s decision to no longer deliver spoken land acknowledgements at the start of council meetings.
Municipal election results
In October, North Shore voters elected three new councils for a four-year term.
Sager won by a landslide and took over as mayor of West Vancouver with an informal slate of council allies that more than make up the majority of council. Eight-term council member Bill Soprovich, finished two positions back from his usual seat on council.
City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan retained her seat, as did every council incumbent who ran, leaving previous council’s progressive/urbanist mandate intact. Coun. Shervin Shahriari became the first Iranian-Canadian elected in B.C.
And the balance of power at District of North Vancouver council stayed much the same with Mayor Mike Little narrowly winning his re-election bid, along with all five council incumbents.
Voter turnout across the North Shore was a paltry 26.8 per cent.
The year began with a rough reminder that climate change sucks. King tides and 81-kilometre per hour winds thrashed the West Vancouver waterfront, damaging the Centennial Seawalk, Hollyburn Sailing Club and Ambleside and Dundarave piers.
The North Shore Eagle Network sounded the alarm after a steep drop off in the number of baby eaglets that successful fledged in the spring – only five, compared to 24 the year before. Provincial scientists were investigating whether avian influenza was the cause.
Almost four years after a job-site chemical spill nearly wiped out the fish population of West Vancouver’s Larson Creek, the Crown swore charges against Keller Foundations Inc., a contractor on the highway project.
The North Shore’s streams were parched and the Capilano Reservoir looked eerily low following a record-breaking fall drought. Just 11 millilitres of rain fell in September. On Oct. 14, the largest North Shore wildfire in recent memory sparked on Eagle Ridge. It took three days to put out.
The North Shore’s bridges and B.C. Ferries’ Horseshoe Bay terminal were frequently the chosen targets of Stop Old Growth Logging protests.
The TransLink Mayors’ Council unveiled their plans for the next round of major transit expansion, including a new Bus Rapid Transit line crossing the North Shore and Second Narrows. The detailed designs of the system haven’t been done yet but the North Vancouver chamber endorsed the concept as a means to get the local workforce moving.
Weeee! Electric kick-scooters became legal in the North Shore’s three municipalities and e-bike rental service Lime expanded to West Vancouver and upgraded its North Shore fleet.
The City of North Vancouver endorsed its new mobility strategy, which prioritizes walking, cycling and transit.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure released a study it had done into Highway 1. Among the 16 potential improvements over the short, medium and long term: New bus-only lanes on the shoulders, twinning the Capilano River Bridge and more bicycle infrastructure.
West Vancouver and the Amalgamated Transit Union came to the brink of a full-blown strike by Blue Bus drivers and support staff but came to a last-minute agreement to send the union’s labour contract to arbitration.
This year started with word that housing assessments were up across the North Shore – about 22 per cent for single-family homes and 13 per cent for condos. Average assessments ranged from $762,000 for a condo in the city to $2.99 million in for a detached house in West Van.
Before he became Premier, NDP leadership candidate David Eby came to North Vancouver to launch his housing platform. Key planks include an increase in public housing projects, more taxes for speculators and removing the ability for some municipal councils to say no to new developments.
A new affordable housing complex for seniors in Lynn Valley was left partially vacant because Kiwanis North Shore couldn’t find tenants that fit both their and BC Housing’s eligibility requirements. To remedy the matter, the District of North Vancouver lowered the minimum age for residents to 55 from 65.
DNV Council approved large-scale developments in the growing Lynn Creek and Lions Gate town centres while CNV council kept apace.
The North Shore’s population grew by 4.7 per cent since 2016, according to the latest census – most of it in the city.
Capilano University received $41.5 million in funding to build a 362-bed student residence building, the first on-campus housing for the school.
The Squamish Nation, meanwhile, received a $32.3-million grant for 80 affordable housing units on the xwemelch’stn reserve in North Vancouver and in Squamish.
Courts and cops
The highest profile case in North Vancouver provincial court was the guilty plea and sentencing of former Vancouver Whitecaps women’s coach Bob Birarda, who was jailed 16 months for three counts of sexual assault and one charge of sexual touching while in a position of authority, all related to former players.
After years of skirmishes in court, illegal hostel hostess Emily Yu was sentenced to 30 days in jail in October for disobeying a judge’s order not to interfere with the forced sale of her former townhouse.
A North Vancouver developed was fined $200,000 for demolishing a West Coast Modern home designed by architect Fred Hollingsworth that was supposed to have heritage protection.
In October, North Vancouver RCMP officer in charge Supt. William Yee stepped aside after he was the subject of allegations of misconduct.
The great outdoors
North Shore Rescue members saw their call volumes drop from the record smashing rate in 2021, thanks to the lifting of COVID restrictions, which opened up more options for recreation other than trails.
Still, demand remains high and BC Parks brought back a day-pass requirement for Mount Seymour parking and Cypress Mountain Resort is suing the province to allow for pay-parking in some areas within the park.
North Shore Rescue volunteers had to go to bat with the province to get permission to use their helicopter’s hoist capabilities at night. After first refusing, citing vague safety guidelines, Emergency Management B.C. relented in October and the team made their first night host rescue on Dec. 22.
West Vancouver announced plans to restore, in part, the Capilano Pacific Trail, which was wiped out by a landslide in January 2021.
And the Quarry Rock Trail, which was initially closed in 2020 to prevent crowds from forming, and was later heavily damaged the Nov. 2021 atmospheric rivers, was targeted for a late-autumn re-opening though that has been delayed to 2023.
Seaspan, the North Shore’s largest employer, had more than 1,000 workers from its shipyards operation off the job for about six weeks after they refused to cross a picket line established by Canadian Merchant Service Guild, which Seaspan’s tug boat captains and engineers belong to. They reached a tentative labour agreement in October.
In November, workers and dignitaries celebrated a milestone in the construction of the newest offshore oceanographic science vessel currently under construction at the shipyard.
West Vancouver council opened the door to craft breweries and cannabis shops in certain zones in the municipality, subject to council approval. So far, two pot shops have opened.
ICBC announced they would be vacating their Lower Lonsdale headquarters, where the public insurer had been based for more than 40 years. A transition to working from home and a relatively low number of local employees were cited as the main reasons.
Acciona, the design and engineering firm fired the stalled North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant filed a $250 million lawsuit against Metro Vancouver. Metro later filed a $500 million suit against Acciona. The cases have not been heard in court.
During Black History Month, we published a story detailing how the Heywood family that founded much of early North Vancouver financed their venture with a family fortune amassed in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
Just after Remembrance Day, 98-year-old West Van veteran Joyce McKay finally received her British Commonwealth War Medal 1939-1945 for her service as a Women’s Auxiliary Air Force driver during the war.
A Tesla driver made national headlines after his vehicle caught fire in North Vancouver and he became trapped inside, having to kick out the window to escape.
West Vancouver woman Emilyn Golden was hailed as a hero after she swam out into English Bay to rescue an autistic teen who was being swept out.
When Queen Elizabeth died, North Shore residents shared their stories of coming up close and personal with her.
And a North Vancouver woman raised a ruckus when Avis billed her for driving 36,000 kilometres in three days – enough to make it 91 per cent of the way around the equator. They later reversed the charges.