Gas prices in White Rock reached $1.709 a litre in April. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Top 10 most discussed Peace Arch News stories of 2019

Dogs on the promenade; gas prices and Don Cherry were among the most discussed news stories

Ranked by the number of online comments received, here are the most discussed stories of Peace Arch News readers in 2019.

1. White Rock Catholic church stands firm on decision to deny gay pride event

Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Parish issued a statement after the church denied a request from the White Rock Pride Society to host an event in the church’s community centre.

The statement issued by parish pastor Father Glenn Dion says that while the church has received public feedback both in support of, and opposition to its stance, it will not budge on its decision to deny the Pride Society’s request.

One of the concerns raised by White Rock Pride Society president Ernie Klassen is that the hall is named the “Star of the Sea Community Centre.”

The statement released by Dion makes note of the name of the centre.

“It is somehow being perceived as a public facility rather than a privately owned one, which is a misunderstanding,” the statement reads. “We will adjust the sign for greater clarity. We do allow others to use our hall as long as they are not in conflict with the mission and values of the Parish.

2. Federal Pacific Caucus chair Gordie Hogg backs Wilson-Raybould ouster

Hours after Vancouver Granville MP Jody Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal Party of Canada, South Surrey-White Rock MP and chairman of the Pacific Liberal caucus Gordie Hogg said that although he respects the former attorney general, she acted outside of the best interest of the party.

Wilson-Raybould, who alleged political interference by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the prosecution of Quebec-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, was ejected from the party after a secretly recorded phone conversation between her and Privy Council Clerk Michael Wernick was made public.

3. White Rock Mexican restaurant told to remove flag from patio

Primo’s Mexican Grill has taken issue with the City of White Rock after the restaurant was told to remove a Mexican flag from its entrance.

General manager Samantha McQuade said that a city bylaw officer visited the waterfront restaurant and told them to remove one of the two Mexican flags – which each measure 55cm by 88cm – that fly above their patio or else they would receive a violation ticket.

McQuade said the bylaw officer told them that someone filed a complaint with the city about the flags.

The city said its bylaw only permits one flag per establishment.

4. Sportsnet fires Don Cherry after negative comments about immigrants

Sportsnet has fired Don Cherry after comments he made about immigrants on Coach’s Corner.

In a statement, Sportsnet said that “following further discussions with Don Cherry after Saturday night’s broadcast, it has been decided it is the right time for him to immediately step down. During the broadcast, he made divisive remarks that do not represent our values or what we stand for.”

The 85-year-old Cherry said on his weekly Coach’s Corner segment as part of Hockey Night in Canada that he’s less frequently seeing people wearing poppies anymore to honour fallen Canadian soldiers — and he singled out those he believes are immigrants in Toronto, prompting a swift online backlash.

5. White Rock Pier repairs could cost $16.2 million: report

White Rock’s pier could cost “in the range” of $16.2 million to fully restore and rebuild to current construction standards, a consultant hired to assess the damage has determined.

But city staff recommend a phased approach that would see initial repairs to the pier completed for an amount closer to $5 million.

6. Yearbook photo surfaces of Trudeau wearing ‘brownface’ costume in 2001

A 2001 yearbook photo of a costumed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his face and hands darkened by makeup, detonated Wednesday on the federal campaign trail, instantly tarnishing the Liberal leader’s bona fides as a champion of tolerance and stopping the party’s re-election momentum squarely in its tracks.

The jarring black-and-white photo, posted online by Time magazine, originally appeared in the yearbook from the West Point Grey Academy, a private school in Vancouver, B.C., where Trudeau worked as a teacher before entering politics.

7. White Rock breaks North American gas price record

The City of White Rock broke a North American record, but it isn’t necessarily a good thing.

According to GasBuddy.com, gasoline at the Petro-Canada in White Rock reached $1.709 a litre.

8. White Rock council opts for compromise in waterfront parking fee increase

White Rock council has balked at raising summertime parking rates at the waterfront to a high of $4 per hour.

But it has endorsed a new compromise proposal from parking task force chair Coun. Christopher Trevelyan that would see summertime waterfront parking – April through September – rise to $3.75 per hour from the current $3.25 rate.

9. Surrey mayor the lone vote against regional business licensing for ride hailing

Metro Vancouver mayors have voted to fast track implementing a regional business licence for ride hailing in the New Year – with only Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum opposed.

McCallum was the lone vote against the motion during a Dec. 12 Mayor’s Council meeting at TransLink’s headquarters in New Westminster.

“A large majority of our residents do not support ride hailing in Surrey, basically because it is not a level playing field between ride-hailing and taxis,” McCallum said ahead of the vote, pointing to caps on the number of taxi vehicles allowed.

10. Mixed reaction after first couple days of dogs on White Rock promenade

While some people are wagging their tails, others are growling after the first couple days of dogs being allowed on White Rock’s Promenade.

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