Former Surrey Eagle Jaxon Joseph was one of 15 people killed in the Humbolt Broncos’ bus crash in April. (Surrey Eagles photo)

YEAR IN REVIEW: Looking back on April to June in Peace Arch News

A roundup of stories that made the news in the second quarter of 2018

April

• After much speculation, the Jim Pattison Group tells the City of Surrey that it is “no longer interested” in building a Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort in South Surrey.

• Repairs to the 152 Street overpass – which was damaged the previous December when it was struck by an over-height truck – are expected to cost $1.2 million, the Ministry of Transportation confirms.

• Significant work begins to take place on the second phase of Miramar Village – one 15-storey tower and one 16-storey – in uptown White Rock.

• The slow pace of progress with regard to work at White Rock’s waterfront Memorial Park frustrates the city’s chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill, though he insists the park is still on track for partial completion by the summer.

• Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner criticizes a Metro Vancouver vote that raised board members’ own pay and implemented a 10.2 per cent retroactive ‘retirement allowance.’ Hepner said the process “happened pretty quickly” and could have been handled better.

• The City of Surrey approves a new housing strategy that aims to prevent the loss of rental stock via several policy changes – which include a “one for one” rental replacement plan plus a $1,000-per-unit affordable-housing fee for developers.

• Former Surrey Eagles forward Jaxon Joseph is one of 16 victims killed in the Humboldt Broncos’ bus tragedy in Saskatchewan. He is remembered by former coach Blaine Neufeld as “just so easy to respect because he was such a respectful person himself.” Later in the month, the team announces they will retire Joseph’s No. 10 jersey.

READ MORE: Humboldt Broncos crash victim Jaxon Joseph remembered for work ethic, positivity

• White Rock is listed among the top 10 public bodies in B.C. with the most Freedom of Information complaints and requests for review. Both White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin and council critic Dennis Lypka call the ranking “no surprise.”

• Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner announces that she will not seek re-election in the fall, saying that “now is the right time to dedicate more time to my family and friends.” And while no current councillors from Hepner’s Surrey First slate officially declare their intentions to run for mayor, four – Tom Gill, Bruce Hayne, Vera LeFranc and Mike Starchuk say they will consider their options, while another incumbent councillor, Dave Woods, throws his hat in the fray a week later.

• The City of White Rock announces it will expropriate property next to Coast Capital Playhouse for a ‘Town Square’ park, though details of the park plan as well as the timeline for the project are hard to pin down.

• A 58-year-old man, Rongxian Li, is charged with two counts of sexual assault following an investigation into allegations from customers of two day spas in Surrey.

• Surrey School District’s bill for portables is set to double to $8.5-million, Surrey Board of Education vice-chair Terry Allen tells Black Press Media.

• Retired South Surrey weightlifter Christine Girard finds out that her bronze medal from the 2012 Summer Olympics is officially upgraded to gold, after the two athletes who finished ahead of her on the podium have their medals stripped after testing positive for banned substances.

May

• The provincial government announces a $64-million commitment for school projects in Surrey – including a new elementary school in South Surrey, land for a second school in the area and expansion of two elementary schools in Fleetwood.

• The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team investigates after the body of Delta man Amin Vinepal is found on the side of a road in the 18700-block of 12 Avenue in South Surrey. Police say they believe the murder was targeted.

• The lineup for the popular TD Concerts at the Pier summer series is announced, and is headlined by a pair of 1980s Canadian bands – the Northern Pikes and Honeymoon Suite.

READ MORE: SLIDESHOW: TD Concerts at the Pier

• White Rock Coun. Grant Meyer is concerned that money spent on a waterfront shuttle service is going to waste because the shuttle bus is not recognizable and not being used by beachfront visitors.

• A Sullivan Heights-area homeowner is handed a $1,000 fine after illegally cutting down a tree known to be home to many peacocks. After cutting down the tree, Parm Brar said people have treated his family horribly, but says city inaction left him no choice but to fell the tree.

• A junior ‘B’ hockey expansion franchise is coming to White Rock, the Pacific Junior Hockey League announces. The team will be owned by Semiahmoo Peninsula businessman Ronnie Paterson, who is a former owner with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.

• An invitation to Semiahmoo First Nation to participate in the City of White Rock’s inaugural Busking Festival is rescinded two days before the event. SFN officials were originally asked to do a traditional welcoming and dance. Two city councillors – Helen Fathers and David Chesney – say they are “embarrassed” and “offended” by the news that SFN was disinvited.

• A Surrey woman is found guilty of animal cruelty stemming from a 2016 seizure of 82 distressed animals. Xin (Ivy) Zhou receives two years probation but – despite a request from Crown – no lifetime ban from owning or possessing animals.

• The chair of the City of White Rock’s Public Art Advisory Committee, Jim Adams, says he will skip any further meetings of the city’s Gateway Feature selection committee because of the haste in which the process is being conducted. Adams says he believes the decision on the archway “had already been made beforehand.”

• Responding to a request from the City of Surrey, senior staff at Metro Vancouver say there is “no substantial rationale or demonstrated need” to expand urban development into the Hazelmere Valley.

• Two years after the Five Corners fire in White Rock, residents of the Ocean Ridge condominium complex are happy to finally be home, while RCMP tell Peace Arch News that investigation into the arson case is “still very much an active investigation.”

• Police find a “variety” of controlled substances at a White Rock house after originally being in the process of arresting a man suspected of breaking into the house. A 31-year-old man who was seen fleeing the residence was arrested nearby.

• Residents of White Rock’s Sausalito building object to the city’s under-construction waterfront parkade project, saying the facility will affect their privacy. Sausalito strata president Minaz Kassam tells PAN the four-level parkade should have a roof, so he isn’t “looking into somebody’s car” and drivers on the top-level aren’t “looking into my bedroom.”

• A brush fire in South Surrey – just north of Peace Portal Alliance Church at 27B Avenue and King George Boulevard – was “easily contained,” according to Surrey fire officials. Smoke from the blaze could be seen from miles away.

• A section of the White Rock promenade will be closed for a few weeks, due to ongoing construction at Memorial Park. A temporary pedestrian access route is established around the construction zone.

• An attempt by White Rock Coun. David Chesney to establish a formal moratorium on highrise development is shot down at a council meeting, with city CAO Dan Bottrill saying such a move would be illegal.

• Surrey council passes a new parks and recreation plan that Mayor Linda Hepner calls “a great blueprint for what the decade will look like.” The $357-million plan includes the creation of 29 new parks, expansion and renovation of 17 more, plus capital projects that include a performing arts facility in South Surrey and new community centers in Grandview and Clayton neighbourhoods.

June

• The rocky relationship between the City of White Rock and Semiahmoo First Nation is again brought to the forefront after resident Susan Lindenberger appears before council to lecture the city on good relations with SFN in light of the latter being uninvited from the city’s busking festival. Later that same meeting, Coun. Helen Fathers says she heard that a committee to organize the upcoming Concerts on the Pier series was told that SFN was “not invited to any of the events this year.”

• White Rock council offers to foot the bill for a rainbow-coloured crosswalk in the Five Corners neighbourhood after three residents – White Rock BIA president Ernie Klassen, Louise McKnight and Ruth Allard – suggest that such a crosswalk be painted in the city as a show of support for the LGBTQ community.

• Two Surrey teenagers, Jesse Bhangal and Jason Jhutty are killed in a late-night shooting in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights neighbourhood. Police believe the shooting was targeted. An hour prior to the bodies of the two teens being discovered, police were alerted to a burning car near 184 Street and 29A Avenue.

• Police investigate after a Surrey bylaw officer is assaulted at a home after following up on a complaint that someone had been feeding peacocks in Sullivan Heights.

• White Rock Coun. Helen Fathers is left bloody after being attacked by a pair of crows in the front yard of her Lee Street home.

• White Rock RCMP investigate after “extreme” vandalism leaves a brick wall at White Rock Elementary marred by crude and inappropriate drawings and curse words.

• White Rock council is receptive to the idea, presented by the volunteer-run White Rock Events Society, of bringing back the city’s Canadian Open Sandcastle Competition – by August 2019, potentially. Though enthusiastic, the volunteers are cautioned by Mayor Wayne Baldwin to “start small” and be aware that environmental and other concerns could be brought forward in opposition.

• An early morning crash near Hazelmere Cemetery in South Surrey kills two men who were in a stolen car. Police say speed is believed to be a factor in the crash, and that the lone vehicle involved appears to have failed to negotiate a turn before rolling into roadside bushes.

• A few weeks after the double-murder of two Surrey teenagers, thousands rally at city hall, calling for an end to gang violence. Speakers at the rally call on elected officials to help curb the recent spate of violence.

• In an attempt to avoid what White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin called a “foofaraw,” the city formally invites members of Semiahmoo First Nation to a pair of upcoming city events – Canada Day by the Bay and the TD Concerts at the Pier series.

• The owner of South Surrey business Not For Long learned last weekend that charges laid against a woman who was caught on video stuffing shoes into a bag had been dropped. A statement posted on the Not For Long Facebook page said, “I wonder if it helped that her husband was VPD.” The communications counsel for the BC Prosecution Service told PAN charges were dropped because “the public interest no longer required a prosecution.”

• Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne cuts ties with the Surrey First slate over what he says is a lack of transparency and a difference in “vision.

• Paul Bennett, a 47-year-old father and Peace Arch Hospital operating-room nurse department manager is killed in a brazen daylight shooting outside his Clayton-area home. At the time, police said they do not believe the shooting was a random incident. Less than a month later, investigators said the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and Bennett was an innocent victim.

READ MORE: Man shot dead in Cloverdale ID’d as hockey coach and father of two

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