File photo Mayor Darryl Walker is congratulated following his election in October.

YEAR IN REVIEW: Looking back on October-December in Peace Arch News

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

October

• The City of Surrey removes signs it had erected throughout the city that promote its planned light-rail transit project. The move comes at the “direction” of Elections BC, in light of the upcoming Oct. 20 civic election.

• Surrey’s chief election officer assures voters that the integrity of the elections process is intact – as allegations of widespread election fraud involving the city’s South Asian community gripped the 2018 civic campaign.

• Construction of South Surrey’s long-planned Grandview Heights Secondary is delayed, but officials are holding out hope that it will open at some point in the 2020-’21 school year.

• City of Surrey staff remove more than 1,000 signs posted by candidates for the Oct. 20 election, many because they were placed too close to intersections.

• Suminder Singh, 55, a popular high school teacher at Tamanawis Secondary School, is killed in a crash in South Surrey after his SUV struck a semi tractor trailer on Pacific Highway (176 Street) at 32 Avenue.

• Former elder of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church and bus driver for TransLink Brian Batke, 72, is charged with sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

• Lisa Batstone, a South Surrey mother charged with the December 2014 death of her eight-year-old daughter, tells the arresting officer that “I murdered her,” B.C. Supreme Court hears.

• Integrity Now mayoral candidate Bruce Hayne takes rival and former running mate Tom Gill to task for “attacking” himself and fellow Surrey mayoral candidate Doug McCallum.

• Surrey Mounties announce that 67 of 73 applications to vote in the 2018 civic election by mail are fraudulent.

• South Surrey-White Rock MP Gordie Hogg denies that he issued a formal endorsement of White Rock mayoral candidate Grant Meyer.

• Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum returns to the city’s top seat in the civic election, with his Surrey Safe Coalition nearly sweeping Surrey First party.

• Darryl Walker is elected White Rock mayor; Democracy Direct wins council majority.

READ MORE: Democracy Direct wins council majority

• Dario Devic, a former Surrey RCMP constable who pleaded guilty to breach of public trust after getting caught up in a Surrey Creep Catcher sting in Whalley in 2016, is sentenced to a four-month conditional sentence, followed by 12 months probation.

• Surrey’s top cop is mum on vow to nix RCMP, as Surrey’s mayor-elect wants city to have its own police force.

• Homicide investigators issue a new appeal for anyone with information on the killing of Bhavkiran (Kiran) Dhesi, 17 – whose body was found in a torched SUV in South Surrey in August 2017 – to come forward.

• White Rock Coalition member Bill Lawrence says the big takeaway of the 2018 election – in which all four Coalition incumbents were voted out of city hall in favour of Democracy Direct candidates – was that some voters felt changes to the city were “too much, too fast.”

• Rituraj Kaur Grewal, 24, is charged in connection with the vehicle crash that killed 17-year-old Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary student Travis Selje and injured another boy on May 3, 2017 in Cloverdale.

• New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote suggests Surrey should pay back the $50 million TransLink says it has spent on planning light rail in the city, but mayor-elect Doug McCallum says that won’t be happening.

November

• A pair of South Surrey families are searching for a place to live after a dispute with the Parklander Motor and Trailer Court came to a head. The 36-site park is the latest to be eyed for redevelopment.

• Frederic Dwayne Wilson, a Surrey man who pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges in connection with a May 2016 police raid on a White Rock home, is sentenced to 10 years in jail.

• While a contractor has been chosen, and the previous city council had given its approval to build a road through Cloverdale Fairgrounds, mayor-elect Doug McCallum says he’s going to halt the project.

• Surrey’s new mayor and council pass motions to establish a municipal police force in the city and “cancel” the planned LRT line in favour of a SkyTrain extension.

• The mother of Hudson Brooks, who was shot and killed by police outside the South Surrey RCMP detachment more than three years ago, says the sight of the officer charged in the case “makes me want to throw up.”

• New White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker promises “an open city hall.”

• White Rock’s newly elected council takes aim at two previously approved Lower Johnston Road highrise projects in a special public meeting.

• For the first time in Canadian history, the Canadian Special Forces Command will have representation at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day, and the man selected to represent the command is White Rock native Master Cpl. Simon Hughes.

• Relations between Surrey’s new Mayor Doug McCallum and the RCMP are further estranged following dueling press releases issued by both in the wake of Surrey’s 11th homicide of the year.

• Surrey Coun. Laurie Guerra speaks out in the face of intense backlash involving a meeting she had attended that was said to be in opposition of the SOGI 123 resource, which “aims to make schools inclusive and safe for students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

• A series of letters found in the home of a South Surrey mother on trial for second-degree murder in connection with her daughter’s death offer “a window into (Lisa Batstone’s) state of mind” at the time eight-year-old Teagan was killed, B.C. Supreme Court hears.

READ MORE: Letters shed light on state of mind of mother accused of daughter’s murder

• White Rock’s newly elected council finds itself wrestling with thorny money problems, partly as a result of being “caught between two ideologies.”

• One year after plans to replace South Surrey’s Bailey bridge with a “steel superstructure” – which crosses the Nicomekl River just north of Crescent Road – are announced, work is anticipated to get underway. But it’s not going to be the full replacement that was initially announced.

• Members of White Rock Baptist Church spend the day in B.C. Surpreme Court in a show of support for a Lisa Batstone, a South Surrey mother who is charged with second-degree murder in the 2014 death of her young daughter.

• The City of White Rock fires back after the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner determined White Rock “has serious issues” with respect to how freedom-of-information requests are being managed by the city.

• Surrey School District confirms the construction of five major projects has been delayed after the bids to build them came in too high.

• The City of White Rock will take another look at the contentious subject of garbage collection in the city, following an unanimous vote by the new council.

• Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he’s “deeply dismayed and shaken to the core” after learning the city is shouldering a $514-million debt load.

• One man is dead after a shooting in Panorama Ridge, and police seek the public’s help to identify those responsible.

• A statement on the City of White Rock website implying criticism of all freedom-of-information request applicants was changed quickly – shortly after Mayor Darryl Walker had his first chance to read it.

• More than two years after the death of a woman in White Rock RCMP cells, officials with the Independent Investigations Office say their examination of Patricia Ann Wilson’s file will continue until the new year.

• Surrey’s debt load is nowhere near $514 million, as Mayor Doug McCallum said in a media release.

December

• The mother of a South Surrey student who was made to wear a jersey over an outfit deemed “inappropriate” says her preteen daughter wore the off-the-shoulder top to school about a dozen times this year before it became an issue. The outfit was purchased by her daughter’s grandmother.

• City of Surrey staff propose postponing more than a dozen capital projects, including a community centre in Grandview Heights and an ice complex in Cloverdale.

• Bekah Mann, 24, who died in a three-vehicle crash on the Sea-to-Sky, is remembered as the “life of the party” and “a bright shining light” in the lives of everyone she touched.

• Excessive use of online food-delivery apps by students at two South Surrey high schools prompts administrators to prohibit the practice on school grounds and during class time.

• The head of the Newton BIA calls on city hall to produce “refreshed plans” for how the area is going to be revitalized, after Surrey’s light-rail project was axed in November.

• Dog owners will be able to walk their pets on White Rock’s promenade next year – but not between May 1 and Aug. 31 – if council continues to back a motion calling for a bylaw change.

• The death of Spencer Walden at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver in 2016 results in the coroner calling for change to the system.

• More than 100 hockey parents, players and community members arrived at the Cloverdale Arena to protest the proposed “postponement” of a new ice rink in the community.

• The Cloverdale hockey community mobilizes for “one last push” in their effort to lobby Surrey council not to delay the planned ice complex in that neighbourhood, after council members gave an early nod to the proposal.

• Accused South Surrey mother Lisa Batstone tried to give the impression she was psychotically ill at the time of her eight-year-old daughter’s death, B.C. Supreme Court officials hear.

• The sister of murdered Surrey teen Bhavkiran (Kiran) Dhesi, whose body was found in a torched SUV in South Surrey in August 2017, appeals for help in finding those responsible for her death.

READ MORE: Family of South Surrey torched-SUV victim to make public appeal

• Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is sticking to his guns that Surrey will not repay $56 million – more like $40 million, he says, and likely not even that much – that was reportedly already spent on setting up light rail in the city before his newly elected council decided to scrap that plan in favour of expanding SkyTrain along Fraser Highway.

• The City of Surrey adds 142.48 acres of parkland to its “biodiversity” inventory. The land is located at 18793 32 Ave.

• There are comments of disappointment and frustration in Surrey chambers as council approves a budget that means the delay of several civic amenities.

• John Nuttall and Amanda Korody – the Surrey couple who planted pressure-cooker bombs on the lawn of the B.C. Legislature on Canada Day 2013 – are free to go, after the BC Court of Appeal upholds a ruling that stayed proceedings against them and said police had “pushed” the pair to commit the crime.

• A severe windstorm battered White Rock’s waterfront, causing extensive damage to the city’s 100-year-old pier, triggering a rescue operation and creating havoc in East Beach.

• Four Surrey high schools are so overcapacity that the district set up waiting lists for in-catchment students. Semiahmoo, Panorama Ridge, Sullivan Heights and Fleetwood Park secondaries now have designated waitlists for students who reside in-catchment.

• The officer charged in the shooting death of 20-year-old Hudson Brooks is ordered to stand trial.

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