City workers clear the debris from trees that were cut along Johnston Road. (File photo)

YEAR IN REVIEW: Looking back on January-March in Peace Arch News

A roundup of stories that made the news in the first three months of 2018

January

• Severance payment of more than $250,000 to former White Rock city manager Peggy Clark – discovered five years after she retired – is questioned by council critic Garry Wolgemuth.

• Coastal FC soccer coach Todd Kargl, who died after being struck by a car in California, is remembered as a dedicated father and “very good friend.”

• The annual White Rock Polar Bear Swim notches an attendance record when an estimated 500 revellers rushed into Semiahmoo Bay Jan. 1, as another 4,000 or so – swathed in warm jackets, toques and gloves – looked on.

• A mysterious odour lingering in pockets of White Rock and South Surrey sparks speculation of a natural-gas leak – but fingers quickly point to a commercial composting operation.

• A Morgan Creek developer says he’s battling misinformation circulating around his plan for a luxury condominium development in that neighbourhood.

• White Rock fire officials say December 2017 fire at Deals World was likely caused by a campfire.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Fire at Deals World in White Rock

• Safety concerns are raised after a guard at the Surrey Pretrial Centre is assaulted.

• The last permanent resident of South Surrey’s Timberland Motel & Campground moves off the site ahead of pending redevelopment.

• Surrey’s first homicide is recorded in Cloverdale, after police respond to reports of shots fired in the 17800-block of 64 Avenue.

• A Surrey woman’s efforts to halt construction of a road through Hawthorne Park in North Surrey is quashed in court.

• White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin describes questions from Surrey-White Rock Liberal MLA Tracy Redies regarding the city’s water – posed on behalf of frequent council critic Roderick Louis – as “superfluous.”

• Archeological testing begins at White Rock’s waterfront Memorial Park, months after the city’s plans for a $4.5-million upgrade to the site were halted by Semiahmoo First Nation.

• The value of single-family detached homes increased by up to 13 per cent across Surrey, however, some landowners in the south end, as well as in White Rock, saw a decrease in property value.

• Const. Elizabeth Cucheran, the South Surrey officer charged with aggravated assault and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the July 2015 death of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment, pleads not guilty and elects for a jury trial.

• The schedule for repairs to the 152 Street overpass at Highway 99 – damaged in December when it was hit by an over-height truck – is announced, with the work expected to take two months. The news is followed by a call for action from politicians, residents and business owners, who say replacing the structure is “long overdue.”

• The City of White Rock eyes limitations for adult-entertainment venues, and effectively bans pot dispensaries. The latter, described as an interim measure in anticipation of nationwide legalization, sparked criticism and calls for council to “be more educated on this.”

• Ocean Park residents say they’re prepared to put up a fight after Fraser Health announces it will relocate its Ocean Park Medical Laboratory to Peace Arch Hospital. Reasons cited for the relocation decision include low use of the Ocean Park site, proximity to other labs and the growing population surrounding the hospital.

READ MORE: Residents react to Ocean Park laboratory relocation

• City of White Rock officials say delays to construction of the Memorial Park upgrade are not anticipated to impact waterfront events.

• An overnight fire in the 4300-block of 168 Street causes no injuries but destroys an equipment barn.

• South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director Cliff Annable says he was “a little surprised” when the City of White Rock gave first and second reading to a plan that effectively bans cannabis dispensaries from the city. Later in January, following a public hearing at which many residents spoke in support of the medical benefits of marijuana-based products, council voted in favour of the zoning amendment bylaw.

• Business owners on White Rock’s Russell Avenue express frustration after access to their storefronts and street parking is unexpectedly blocked by a drilling crew.

• Former South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts defends her record as mayor of Surrey during the final BC Liberal Party leadership debate.

• Demolition crews target the former home of Hillcrest Bakery, as part of efforts to clear the property for construction of the final two Miramar Village towers.

• White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin announces he will not run for a third term in office.

• A mother and son are found dead following a fire at a North Grandview Heights home, located on the 17400-block of 28B Avenue. IHIT tweets the deaths are “believed not random & public safety not a concern.”

• Four homes are evacuated following a hillside mudslide in White Rock that fire officials believe was triggered by heavy rains. There were no injuries in the slide, which occurred in the 1100-block of Martin Street.

February

• White Rock Coun. David Chesney says the city is confusing medical and recreational cannabis dispensing in its decision to prohibit any kind of such dispensary through an amendment to the zoning bylaw.

• The future of White Rock’s Royal Place mall becomes more clear as plans for a 27-storey, mixed-use development on the 1578 Johnston Rd. site are shared with the city’s land use and planning committee.

• New statistics from the B.C. Coroner’s Service show there were 40 per cent more overdose deaths in Surrey in 2017 than in 2016 – 174 compared to 122.

• White Rock council awards the first contract for construction of its controversial waterfront parkade.

• White Rock council endorses a plan to study boosting height and density guidelines for some 36 properties on or adjacent to North Bluff Road.

• Dianne Watts, former South Surrey-White Rock Conservative MP and three-term mayor of Surrey, is mum on her plans following a failed bid to win leadership of the BC Liberal Party.

• Fraser Health announces plans to create a new Mental Health and Substance Use Urgent Care Response Centre in Surrey.

• Fraser Health Authority’s board of directors announces it will meet with Ocean Park residents to discuss the impending closure of the Ocean Park Medical Laboratory.

• The City of Surrey ponders its approach to cannabis legalization, in preparing for the anticipated passing of the Trudeau government’s Bill C45.

• South Surrey’s 160 Street is identified by area businesses as one of the top three corridors in the city requiring improvement.

• The South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce executive director says small businesses are “under siege,” following an announcement by the provincial government that it will raise minimum wage to $15.20 an hour by 2021.

• A fire at Hazelmere RV Park destroys the home of a young single mother and kills the family dog.

• South Surrey resident Douglas Brown says the city should show flexibility when it comes to his request to remove a tree from his property, particularly in light of its recent clearcut of a section of Hawthorne Park to make way for a connector road.

• Peace Arch Hospice Society is at odds with Delta Hospice Society’s campaign against Fraser Health’s directive to allow medically assisted death services in hospice facilities.

• White Rock RCMP respond to a sudden death outside First United Church, after a man is found in medical distress “right at the front stairs” of the church, which operates the extreme-weather shelter.

• The City of Surrey defends the amount it’s spending on the Surrey Outreach Team on 135A Street after a Kwantlen Polytechnic University professor questions whether the resources would be better-spent elsewhere.

• White Rock council unanimously pass bylaws regulating adult-entertainment venues in the city.

• Surrey RCMP respond to a report of gunfire in the city’s Panorama neighbourhood. No injuries were reported.

• More than 100 placard-carrying students gather outside Elgin Park Secondary to protest changes to a Grade 12 elective math program that prepares students for post-secondary education.

• A White Rock mother takes her landlord to the Residential Tenancy Branch over what she describes as a “demoviction.” Landlords Oviedo Developments say due process was observed. The RTB rules in favour of the mother.

• South Surrey seniors meet with South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg as part of a ‘National Day of Action’ calling for legislation to protect pensioners.

• Politicians and the Surrey Board of Trade weigh in on the provincial budget, which includes investments to childcare spaces and affordable housing, as well as an ‘employer health tax.’

• Groundwork for the City of White Rock’s new $10.4-million parkade gets underway at Vidal Street and Victoria Avenue.

• A Fraser Health meeting with the Ocean Park community breaks down before it can begin, after the moderator confirms it won’t change a decision to relocate the Ocean Park Laboratory.

• The South Surrey/White Rock community raises more than $69,000 for homeless prevention, at the White Rock Coldest Night of the Year event.

• A report suggests Surrey needs more services for its growing and young Indigenous population.

• Police appeal for help identifying a man sought in connection with the knifepoint robbery of a taxi driver in South Surrey.

• Early morning tree-cutting on White Rock’s Johnston Road – part of the city’s Johnston Road Gateway plan – outrages residents.

READ MORE: Tree clearing in uptown White Rock surprises, angers

March

• Metro Vancouver asks the public for its thoughts on a request to amend the regional growth strategy to accommodate a significant development in the Hazelmere Valley.

• The City of White Rock apologizes for cutting down an empress tree during Memorial Park upgrade work.

• A handful of White Rock residents gather at the Peace Arch border in support of U.S. students who are calling for tougher gun laws, in the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 students and teachers.

• Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner promises to make case for a new Surrey hospital in Cloverdale.

• The City of White Rock launches a webpage to help residents keep track of development in the city.

• Surrey’s Board of Education chair Terry Allen tells a panel reviewing how B.C. schools are funded to “leave per-pupil funding alone.”

• Surrey South Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux calls for a law that will close the wage gap between men and women.

• Surrey says the provincial NDP’s new ‘employer health tax’ will cost the city millions of dollars.

• White Rock RCMP ride buses as part of a crackdown on distracted driving.

• A South Surrey RV park resident disputes an eviction notice that was distributed at Parklander Motor and Trailer Court advising tenants they had until Oct. 1 to leave.

• Surrey council approves a ban on the retail sale of dogs, cats and rabbits in the city.

• Two dogs are dead – one from injuries sustained, the other for causing the injuries – following an incident in White Rock.

• The 152 Street overpass reopens, three months after it sustained damage after being hit by a truck.

• The City of White Rock decides to move ahead on its long-anticipated ‘gateway project,’ with city staff estimating it could cost as much as $1 million.

• Surrey Newton MLA Harry Bains speaks out after the city’s second fatal shooting of the year.

• Former Surrey temple leader Baldev Singh Kalsi is sentenced to 11 years in connection with the “gratuitous, unrelenting and callous beating” death of his wife, Narinder in July 2014.

READ MORE: Kalsi sentenced to 11 years, after his wife ‘was left to die on the bedroom floor’

• Students at a White Rock private school are fueling their learning with boosts of exercise.

• White Rock council is divided on a request for variances to a development permit for the White Rock First United Church property. The variances – including to increase maximum lot coverage and maximum height – were granted on a 4-3 vote.

• Former Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church pastor Samuel Emerson and his wife Madelaine plead not guilty to multiple charges, including sexual assault and threats to cause death and bodily harm.

• Surrey RCMP appeal for help identifying a senior pedestrian who was struck by a car in South Surrey.

• Surrey RCMP say the seizure of drugs, cash and weapons from a South Surrey home stemmed from an investigation sparked by reports of “many youth attending this home to purchase drugs.”

• The Independent Investigations Office is tasked following the death of a man in his forties who went into medical distress while being taken into police custody during an incident in South Surrey.

• South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg says he is encouraged about a chance for meaningful progress on relocating rail traffic away from the waterfront following a meeting with B.C. Premier John Horgan.

• Surrey RCMP appeal for information – twice – to help them identify a “likely remorseful” driver who left the scene of an incident in the 2700-block of King George Boulevard that left a 38-year-old pedestrian with serious injuries.

• The removal of more than two dozen trees from city-owned land near 23 Avenue and 165 Street sparked some concern among area residents, but city officials say, for the most part, “it needed to happen.”

• “Towering figure” of modern math Robert Langlands – a Semiahmoo Secondary alumnus – is named the Abel Prize Laureate for 2018.

• Metro Vancouver mayors are criticized after voting themselves a 10.2 per cent retirement allowance.

• South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg takes on a new and influential responsibility in Ottawa, as Pacific Caucus chair for the Liberal party.

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