Peace Arch News delivered news to your door 104 times in 2015, and in real time at www.peacearchnews.com. Here is a sampling of the stories that we’ve reported over the past year:
● Lisa Batstone, facing charges in connection with the Dec. 10, 2014 death of her eight-year-old daughter, Teagan, is deemed fit to stand trial.
● Janet Olson, who admitted to stealing dogs in what she claimed were acts of compassion, defends herself in court, telling the judge during sentencing submissions that she has suffered enough.
● A 31-year-old man is airlifted with life-threatening injuries following a single-vehicle crash on 8 Avenue, near 192 Street.
● A civil suit aimed at quashing a bylaw amendment that cleared the way for an eight-storey, 199-bed care facility in White Rock gets underway, with the judge questioning why he was being asked to get involved “at this stage.”
● The City of White Rock announces business and multi-family garbage pickup and recycling/organics collection services will be privatized.
● Government-funding cuts jeopardize Sources Community Resource Centre’s homelessness programs.
● An avian-flu outbreak in Oregon and Washington prompts Canadian officials to stop raw poultry, live birds and eggs at the border.
● One month after the murder of 15-year-old Dario Bartoli, homicide investigators renew their appeal for information that could help solve the case.
● White Rock bylaw officers are advised they have no authority to enforce rules on the city’s waterfront train tracks.
● Word of plans to build a galvanizing facility on rural South Surrey property concerns residents.
● A couple accused of plotting to set off pressure-cooker bombs at the B.C. legislature on Canada Day 2013 plead not guilty.
⬅ Police arrest seven in connection with a “mini meth lab” found in the underground parking garage of a South Surrey condominium complex.
● Early-morning gunfire that left one vehicle with “several” bullet holes prompted police in White Rock to cordon off part of a hillside neighbourhood.
● RCMP investigate a report of an abduction attempt on White Rock Elementary school grounds.
● Reports of suspected pipe bombs bring the Mounties’ Explosive Disposal Unit to South Surrey twice in one week; once to a rural property and once to a gas station.
● A Burnaby-based businessman is fined $25,000 after pleading guilty to breaking the rules around importing cheese, in connection with shipments that were intercepted on 10 occasions, including at the Pacific Highway border crossing in South Surrey.
● White Rock Farmers’ Market officials are told they can no longer start setting up the summer market at 7 a.m., due to complaints of noise, but market officials dispute Mayor Wayne Baldwin’s statement regarding complaints.
⬅ White Rock police ask for help identifying a man who robbed the uptown HSBC Bank wearing a black toque and a fake beard.
● When residents of South Surrey’s Summerfield neighbourhood allege overzealous enforcement of parking bylaws, city officials say it’s a result of complaints from area residents.
● White Rock council instructs staff to research if the city’s pier is the longest in Canada.
● Slides that interrupted train operations through South Surrey strengthen the resolve of White Rock officials to have the waterfront tracks relocated.
● Kassandra’s Law – named after Kassandra Kaulius, a young Surrey woman killed by an impaired driver in 2011 – is introduced in the House of Commons, calling for a minimum five-year jail term for convictions of impaired driving causing death.
● Fraser Health’s monthly report card reveals only 31 per cent of emergency patients to Peace Arch Hospital in 2014 were admitted within 10 hours.
● White Rock council votes to get the ball rolling on a review of the city’s Official Community Plan.
● A Surrey volunteer who coaches youth soccer is arrested in Washington, accused of pursuing sex with a 12-year-old girl.
● The trial of a Langley man charged in connection with the shooting death of his ex-girlfriend’s boyfriend in Cloverdale is set.
● A Surrey man who nearly lost close to $3,000 to fraudsters shares his experience in the hopes of saving others from falling victim.
● Darryl Gordon Brown, convicted of beating a White Rock businessman with a pipe wrench, is sentenced to three years and 27 days in jail for the August 2009 assault.
● Southridge School students Serina St. James, Sarah Tisdale, Armaan Randhawa and Stephanie Lee win the Kids’ Lit Quiz finals in Toronto.
⬅ Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner announces the city is earmarking $200,000-$300,000 for efforts to convince taxpayers to support a proposed 0.5 per cent tax increase for transit and transportation infrastructure.
● Police investigate a spate of break-ins to community mailboxes in South Surrey.
● White Rock Players Club president says that without a new, significant sponsor, the Coast Capital Playhouse will revert to the White Rock Playhouse in early 2016.
● The man accused of murdering White Rock resident Bruce Ridout is released from custody while he awaits trial.
● A small celebration at the Peace Arch marks the 200th anniversary of the actual end of hostilities in the War of 1812.
● Homicide team investigates the death of a three-year-old girl at a home in Cloverdale, after the toddler was rushed to hospital with undisclosed injuries.
● White Rock council axes question period from its biweekly meetings, raising the ire of residents.
● A provincial-government survey shows more than one third of B.C.’s problem gamblers live in the Fraser Health region.
● White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin says residents will pay more for limited services if the proposed 0.5 per cent transit tax fails.
● Election disclosure statements reveal that Surrey First spent $1.18 million to win every seat on city council.
● Former South Surrey resident Janet Olson, who admitted to stealing dogs, is told she’ll receive a 90-day conditional sentence.
● Surrey council endorses a motion calling for a reduction in the speed of freight trains along the Crescent Beach waterfront from to 10 m.p.h. from 30.
● Affordable-housing advocates ask the City of White Rock to revisit a strategy for addressing the growing needs of low-income residents that was presented and accepted in 2010.
⬅ Six-foot fencing is installed north of the waterfront rail line, east of Finlay Street, to curb trespassing, much to the dismay of residents and merchants alike.
● Charges against a White Rock senior who was arrested in August 2014 in connection with a sexual assault are withdrawn as a result of DNA evidence.
● Police arrest a Delta woman in connection with a “significant cache” of stolen mail, credit cards and meth found in a car in South Surrey.
● Blueberry farmers worry an early start to the season could spell trouble for crops.
● South Surrey’s God’s Little Acre officials defend against criticism that the operation lacks accountability and transparency.
● A White Rock resident searches for answers after discovering a mother raccoon suffering serious injuries from leg-hold traps. A Vancouver-based animal-protection group offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of whoever is responsible.
● White Rock RCMP appeal for help locating the owner of a “significant amount” of cash found in the uptown area.
● West Vancouver Police Department recommends charges after at least one fight broke out between fans of a Semiahmoo Minor Hockey team and one from Hollyburn Country Club during a youth game between the two squads.
● Two Port Coquitlam residents escape injury when their “experimental” plane crashes during takeoff in South Surrey.
● White Rock council learns the city’s pier is not the longest in Canada, then quashes an effort to have staff investigate if it is the longest wooden structure of its kind.
⬅ A popular waterfront gelato shop in White Rock – Gelateria Italia & Coffee Shop – is destroyed by fire, which officials determined was accidental, caused by a chemical reaction.
● White Rock RCMP warn of romance scams after a local woman reports sending “a great sum of money” overseas after starting an online relationship.
● A White Rock hot-yoga studio changes its name to distance itself from the developer of a popular 26-posture sequence, following allegations – including from one of the studio’s former teachers – of sexual assault against the guru.
● A Surrey RCMP officer is airlifted to hospital after crashing his vehicle over an embankment while trying to stop a driver reported driving erratically through South Surrey and Cloverdale. A 26-year-old Aldergrove resident is charged.
● A decision is made to expedite the trial of Brody Paterson, accused of first-degree murder in the South Surrey shooting of 28-year-old Craig Widdifield in April 2013.
● Sarbjit Bains, the man accused of killing Delta resident Amritpal Saran – whose charred body was found on Surrey’s Colebrook Road – in 2013, is ordered to stand trial in B.C. Supreme Court.
● More than 600 firefighters from across Canada gathered in South Surrey to remember Kevin Hegarty, who died March 1 after years of helping others on the job deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition he himself lived with.
● Street-racing charges are approved against two drivers after a fiery crash on Highway 99 near 152 Street involving a Lamborghini in December 2014.
⬅ More than 100 angry residents rally at White Rock City Hall, calling on leaders to rescind their decision to halt waste pickup for multifamily homes and businesses.
● Ryan William Beauchamp, accused of killing his father in their Surrey home last year, is ordered to stand trial for murder.
● Tourism White Rock executive director Betina Albornoz warns that without more funding from the city, the organization’s future is grim.
● Twenty-six White Rock Christian Academy students have their mission trip to Guatemala cut short after several of the Grade 11s are robbed while playing soccer with area children.
● TransLink looks into reports that pay-parking machines at the South Surrey Park & Ride accept only credit cards.
● Future Shop in Grandview Corners is shuttered as part of a Canada-wide move in which locations were either slated to close or transition to Best Buy locations.
● Travel once again proves a bugbear for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale Conservative MP Russ Hiebert, who faces flak in the House of Commons for being the most frequent user of “sponsored travel” in past years – trips Hiebert defended as vital to his work as a member of the International Trade Committee and International Human Rights Committee.
● A White Rock home on North Bluff Road is part of an international money laundering and fraud case, after the homeowner and her ex-husband – both Chinese nationals – are charged in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
● New RCMP recruits arrive in Surrey, bringing to 34 the number of new police officers in the city since more than 100 were promised by council.
● Wine arrives on the shelves of Save-on-Foods in South Point, becoming the first grocery store in B.C. to be licensed.
● Tempers flare at a public meeting regarding the City of White Rock’s plan to alter its garbage-pickup program. Angry residents voice their displeasure, and Mayor Wayne Baldwin admits the city “did not do a great job of communicating” the changes.
● Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says she is appalled after five brazen shootings occur in Surrey within a four-day span.
● Aran Bains, 22, nephew of Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains is killed in an early-morning shooting. The victim’s family says he did not have ties to gang activity.
● Peninsula senior William Cameron, a Second World War veteran, is honoured by France with the Legion of Honour.
⬅ More than 700 people pack Tamanawis Secondary in Newton for a forum on crime after 22 shootings are recorded in Surrey within six weeks.
● Coun. David Chesney is noticeably absent from the White Rock deputy-mayor rotation. Neither Chesney nor Mayor Wayne Baldwin comment, though Coun. Helen Fathers calls it “unfair to say the least.” Later, Baldwin announces that Chesney was censured after comments – determined by city lawyers to be “most likely” defamatory – were published about a fellow councillor on his website.
● Prior to a special council meeting to discuss waste management, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin chastises residents for “unacceptable behaviour” towards councillors, and later reveals that plainclothes RCMP officers were in attendance at the meeting.
● The City of White Rock acknowledges it provided home addresses of residents to a real-estate developer proposing construction of two towers on Oxford Street. The developer used the addresses to send mail to residents about an upcoming open house. Admitting it has happened more than once, the city reviews the policy to ensure it does not happen again.
⬅ More than a dozen rare trees are stolen from bonsai master Tak Yamaura’s private collection in a series of break-ins at his South Surrey property.
● Violent crime in Surrey is up 40 per cent in the first quarter of 2015, compared to the same time frame last year, according to statistics released by the Surrey RCMP.
● A man dies after his ultralight crashes into a South Surrey field just west of King George Boulevard after taking off from nearby King George Airpark.
● One of Surrey’s oldest heritage buildings, the Loyal Orange Lodge No. 1471, is torn down. The building sat in the 16600-block of Old McLellan Road for more than two decades, awaiting restoration, but with none forthcoming and the building falling into disrepair, it was demolished.
● White Rock Coun. David Chesney comes under fire after he had said tight clothing on pregnant women looks like “sausage casing” and that expectant mothers try to delay maternity leave “until their water breaks.” Chesney later apologized, insisting his words “were taken out of context” and used to try to “whip up some headlines.”
● A White Rock man is arrested in St. John’s, Nfld. in connection with “one of the biggest drug busts” in Newfoundland and Labrador history. Arlen Nathan Hodge, 41, faces multiple drug-related charges.
● White Rock residents express surprise to find crews removing trees and other vegetation from the Marine Drive hillside. The work, in conjunction with BNSF, was done in order to improve the railways’ line of sight and slope stability, according to the city.
● RCMP and the BC Coroners Service investigate after a man is killed after being struck by a freight train in East Beach. The death is the third fatality on the waterfront rail line in eight years.
● Yvonne Bernardy-Dearden is lauded as a Good Samaritan after alerting a South Surrey couple, Andy and Carole Johnston, to a fire at their home. The couple awoke after persistent pounding on the front door from Bernandy-Dearden – who was on her way to work – and managed to escape.
● Jeffrey Caillé – accused of killing White Rock resident Bruce Ridout in August 2014 – is ordered to stand trial by a Surrey Provincial Court judge. Caillé is charged with second-degree murder, one count of assault causing bodily harm and two counts of assault in connection with Ridout’s death.
⬅ A 911 call reporting shots fired and a violent domestic incident sends two schools into emergency lockdown and armed police – including an armored tactical vehicle –to a South Surrey neighbourhood. “There was a lone female occupant… distraught to see the police presence outside her home.” An hour after police were deployed, it was determined to be “a fictitious, prank call.”
● White Rock city council votes to boost its expense allocations for councillors to better reflect the new four-year council terms. The changes include a provision that requires the mayor’s pre-approval for expenses incurred outside of Metro Vancouver – something opposed by Couns. Helen Fathers and Lynne Sinclair.
● Police officers with the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team and the Integrated Police Dog Unit are called to a home on Croydon Drive after a gunshot is fired during an attempted home invasion.
● White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin acknowledges the city should have had a plan to present to residents prior to clearing vegetation from the Marine Drive hillside.
● RCMP say they believe gunfire in the Sullivan neighbourhood was targeted, not connected to the ongoing drug-trade shooting spree in the city.
● Security protocols are reviewed – and a staff member fired – after a toddler leaves unnoticed from the child-minding area of the Steve Nash Sports Club in South Surrey.
⬅ A makeshift church on White Rock’s Marine Drive – the Church of the Holy Smoke – is given 30 days to clear following concerns it appears to encourage drug use, a claim the church proprietor, ‘Pastor Robin’ Douglas, denies. Douglas claims religious persecution and calls for a worldwide boycott of the City of White Rock.
● Hudson Brooks, 20, is killed and an RCMP officer shot during an early-morning confrontation with officers outside the South Surrey detachment. Family and friends of Brooks demand answers, disputing a police statement that officers were responding to a “suicidal” man, and police later confirm the only weapons at the site were RCMP-issued firearms.
● Senate Speaker Leo Housakos is surprised when the Conservative majority in the chamber votes to shut down debate on South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert’s controversial labour bill, C-377. Housakos, himself a Conservative, says he wasn’t expecting his party’s senators to use their majority to overrule his ruling and invoke closure on debate. The legislation subsequently passes in the Senate and in the House of Commons.
● White Rock council votes to expropriate the city’s water utility from Edmonton-based Epcor, with the aim of having the facility fully city-owned by Sept. 30. Treasurer Sandra Kurylo – in a report on long-term borrowing needed to acquire the facility, estimates the total cost at some $23 million, including completion of Epcor’s Total Water Quality Management project, including chlorination, due by June 2016.
● A Surrey man is hospitalized with extensive burns after his single-engine aircraft crashes on Highway 97 near Osoyoos on July 7. The pilot, attempting an emergency landing after the Beechcraft lost power, had clipped the rear of a semi-trailer with a wing.
● Cloverdale resident Colin Hill is killed during an attempted home invasion. His widow, Becky Zhou, says the popular real-estate agent confronted the robber outside their home, giving his family time to hide.
● Three large development proposals in White Rock are sent back to the drawing board for revisions after a standing-room-only Advisory Design Panel meeting. They include a contentious proposal for two apartment towers on Oxford Street that has been the subject of a 1,200-name petition from neighbours opposed.
⬅ Participants in the 2015 Pulling Together Canoe Journey are feted at celebrations at the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve. The eight-day canoe trip covers 100 miles and involves participants from various B.C. First Nations communities, as well as representatives from RCMP detachments and other police and fire departments.
● A dog is euthanized by request of the owners following an attack on a seven-year-old girl at a South Surrey home that left the child requiring plastic surgery.
● Fifty-seven animals are seized from a Surrey property by SPCA officers who say they found neglected horses, dogs and cats.
● A 70-year-old South Surrey senior is attacked in her Grandview-area home after returning from a walk. Police issue a warning, saying the armed assailant restrained the senior and attacked her when she couldn’t provide cash. A 42-year-old Langley man is later charged.
● The White Rock All Stars win the Little League Canadian Nationals, with a 16-0 win over the host team, from Ontario, qualifying the team for the Little League World Series.
● Members of Semiahmoo First Nation call for a review of band finances after learning their three elected officials were paid nearly a combined half-million dollars in the 2013-2014 fiscal year. The information was disclosed nearly 18 months after a federal deadline for the band to file information.
● Thousands of Semiahmoo Peninsula residents are left without power – some for days –following a freak windstorm.
● A senior Metro Vancouver planner confirms that growth targets that would see White Rock adding 7,000 residents over the next 25 years are not legally binding. White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin had claimed in a letter to Peace Arch News that the city would be held legally liable for not meeting projection figures in the Regional Growth Strategy.
● A trio of robbers wielding batons make off with thousands of dollars-worth of narcotics after a brazen afternoon robbery at the Grandview Corners Pharmasave. The dark-clothed, masked men steal quantities of morphine, fentanyl and oxycontin, as well as an undisclosed amount of cash.
● Joy Davies, federal Liberal candidate for South Surrey-White Rock and a longtime public advocate for medical marijuana, resigns from the race after controversial pro-marijuana comments she had made online prior to running for office surface. The riding association chooses, as a replacement, former Surrey councillor Judy Higginbotham – a past federal candidate.
● A man brings an unidentified “explosive device” into the White Rock RCMP detachment. Following evacuation and subsequent all-clear by the RCMP explosives unit, the public is asked to refrain from moving anything suspected to be explosive.
● Members of the Little Campbell Watershed Society are outraged by a push from Surrey Coun. Tom Gill to have a former gravel pit in South Campbell Heights – abutting a major salmon spawning area – designated a truck parking site. Gill argues that such a park is urgently needed in Surrey.
● Dianne Watts, running as Conservative candidate for South Surrey-White Rock in the federal election, comes under flak for a flyer card mailed to residents in her name with the message “We will fight Jihadist terrorists at home and abroad”. Opponents accuse the former Surrey mayor and her party of “fearmongering”.
● Nearly 100 White Rock residents gather on the lawn at city hall to call for the resignation of Mayor Wayne Baldwin prior to the Sept. 14 council meeting. The Regional Growth Strategy is the primary focus of the meeting, with anger expressed at Baldwin’s insistence that White Rock will be legally bound to accommodate projected growth of 7,000 new residents by 2041. Metro’s earlier amendments suggest the intake should be half that. Baldwin later announces he has “absolutely no reason to resign.”
● The owner of the Riverside Golf Centre fights a City of Surrey expropriation of the King George Boulevard property as a conservation and recreational area. Ken Poirer says the move forces closure of an almost 50-year-old family business, which already serves conservation and recreation. Supporters of the golf centre later organize a rally at Surrey City Hall.
● Barry Christiansen, who in 2012 knocked down two women joggers with his SUV at the intersection of 152 Street and 32 Avenue but failed to identify himself as the driver at the scene of the accident, receives a nine-month conditional sentence.
● White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin calls White Rock RCMP to eject former-councillor Margaret Woods from a public hearing, citing “offensive language”. Woods claims the mayor’s reasons are “disingenuous”. When police arrive at the meeting and consult with Baldwin, they ultimately choose not to remove Woods.
● A 19-year-old Surrey man is airlifted to hospital after he and another man were struck by a minivan while they were painting road lines on 24 Avenue.
● White Rock residents criticize the city’s Official Community Plan Working Group, alleging the membership is not a fair representation of the community.
● More than a dozen oil-covered ducks are rescued from a polluted South Surrey pond in the 18800-block of 8 Avenue.
⬅ Three months after Hudson Brooks was fatally shot by police outside of the South Surrey RCMP detachment, hundreds of family members and friends march in his honour, calling for justice.
● White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin says he is “encouraged” after a brief meeting with provincial Transportation Minister Todd Stone to discuss relocating the railway; Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner reiterates her commitment to the relocation but suggests the move would offer little benefit to Surrey and that “the real winners would be the City of White Rock.”
● Tourism White Rock says it will close its doors at the end of the year, following a city decision to adopt a new tourism strategy that would cease its funding.
● White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin says he has “absolutely no reason to resign” after a 77-name petition is presented to council.
● Two men are arrested after a ‘chop shop’ investigation led police to a rural South Surrey property in the 2300-block of 176 Street, which police say was being used to dismantle stolen pickup trucks.
● A public-information meeting about the City of White Rock’s water-utility takeover prompts more questions, as residents call for details about the purchase price and the status of a 2.5-acre parcel of land on Oxford Street, slated for development.
⬅ Conservative Dianne Watts becomes MP for South Surrey-White Rock, despite the Liberals winning a majority government; Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal wins in Newton-North Delta.
● The City of Surrey begins preparations for an influx of hundreds of Syrian refugees expected to arrive in the coming months, as part of 3,000 destined for Metro Vancouver.
● The Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre, operated by the Roman Catholic Church, confirms it will close its doors at the end of the year, citing financial difficulties.
● Two serious crashes in less than two weeks occur in a residential South Surrey neighbourhood, near 136 Street and 28 Avenue.
● The City of Surrey’s promise to add 100 more police officers means a yet-to-be-determined property-tax hike, as the city struggles to balance its budget.
● White Rock city manager Dan Bottrill confirms that despite taking ownership of its water utility, the city and Epcor have yet to determine a purchase price. A Freedom of Information request by a resident later reveals the city and Epcor signed a three-year confidentiality agreement.
● A B.C. Supreme Court judge rules that evidence exists of “unlawful acts” by the RCMP during the undercover sting that led to the conviction of a Surrey couple who planned to bomb the legislature on Canada Day 2013.
● Donald Chad Jr., found guilty in the shooting death of Corey Bennett in South Surrey two years ago, is sentenced to 13 years in prison, after expressing remorse at his sentencing hearing, saying “there’s no fixing what I did.”
● A South Surrey man is killed in an early-morning motorhome fire at an RV Park on 160 Street.
● ‘Vegetation removal’ on the Marine Drive hillside resumes, upsetting some residents. Coun. Grant Meyer says he would like the city to take another look at 2003 plans to build a parkade there.
● Volunteers collecting supplies for Syrian refugees are overwhelmed by support from the local community, who rally to fill one South Surrey organizer’s home with clothing, household items, bedding and baby items.
● White Rock city council votes to move a two-highrise project slated for 1454 Oxford St. forward to final reading after a five-hour public hearing that saw dozens of people speak on the 21- and 24-storey development. A final vote is expected in January.
● As family and friends mark the one-year anniversary of Dario Bartoli’s murder near Bakerview Park, investigators confirm they believe there were witnesses that have yet to come forward.
● White Rock RCMP announce charges in a dramatic early morning crash at Oxford Street and Buena Vista Avenue June 3 that resulted in a car upside-down against a house.
● Preliminary plans are announced for a 19-storey retirement residence in the 1500-block of Johnston Road – a project that would displace 12 businesses.
● White Rock announces it will begin disinfecting its water supply with chloramine – a mix of chlorine and ammonia – after determining the use of chlorine alone would result in staining of plumbing fixtures and laundry.
● A new bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel is pegged at $3.5 billion and will be tolled, the province announces, drawing criticism from MP Dianne Watts and Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.
● A contentious private member’s bill championed by former MP Russ Hiebert is expected to be repealed. New MP Dianne Watts, a fellow Conservative, says there are “measures in place” that address union accountability.