Rita Motorsill rings in the items for Rick Harcus during Tru Value Foods last day of operation in Cordova Bay Plaza on Friday.

Looking back at Saanich’s 2017 – January and February

The most read stories online for January and February

  • Dec. 25, 2017 1:30 p.m.


Family says construction worker’s death could have been prevented

The girlfriend and brother of Roland Huetzelmann say his death on a Saanich construction site could have been prevented.

Huetzelmann, 51, died in hospital in the early morning hours of Jan. 15 from injuries that he had suffered on Jan. 10 when he fell from the third floor of the Shire Urban Living development, currently under construction, on Quadra Street.

According to Huetzelmann’s girlfriend Corinne Desjarlais, he was working on the roof of the third floor when gusting wind picked up a piece of plywood.

“It became like a sail and flew him and the plywood over the edge,” she said.

According to his older brother Joe Huetzelmann, Roland fell 35 feet to the ground, suffering injuries to his pelvis, spinal cord and head.

Huetzelmann was not tethered or wearing a harness while working on the site.

A railing consisting out of two-by-fours rimmed the area where Huetzelmann was working, according to Desjarlais. That level of protection, however, was inadequate given the cold and blustery conditions that day, according to his family members.

“He should not have been working there,” she said. “It was so cold and windy.”

According to data posted on Environment Canada Web site, wind speeds for Jan. 10 reached a maximum of 56 km/h.

Trish Knight Chernecki, senior manager government and media relations for WorkSafeBC, said it was currently conducting an investigation into the incident’s cause with an eye towards prevention under the Workers Compensation Act.

Homeless camp springs up along highway offramp in Saanich

The death of a man in the Gorge Park has renewed the focus on Saanich’s transient population, a focus now shifting towards a makeshift campsite near Burnside Road.

The man many area residents simply knew as “Dave,” was found dead in a wooden area inside Gorge Park near the intersection of Tillicum Road and Gorge Road.

A veritable heap of multi-coloured tarps, crooked metal poles, wet bags and items of every variety, including dozens of bicycle seats, are now piling up on a piece property along the Burnside Road offramp from Highway 1.

Yet what might look like an illegal trash dump to drivers turning off the highway is home for a young woman in early-to-mid-20s, who scrambled out of the tent buried underneath the tarps and poles when the Saanich News visited the site.

Wearing blue jeans, brown hiking boots and a hoodie against the rain, one of her first tasks was to dump the accumulating rain water threatening to weigh down one of the tarps covering the tent that she was sharing with her boyfriend and their dog.

Homeless people, she insisted, are full-rounded individuals and it is precisely the refusal of the public to recognize them as such that forces them into the open.

She and her boyfriend have not been at their current location for very long. Work on the McKenzie interchange forced them to abandon their old location closer to McKenzie Avenue. In fact, they have moved around the immediate area quite a bit over the last few months.

UVic students make push for open textbooks

The high cost of post secondary textbooks is hurrying the advent of free textbooks though the online model of open educational resources (OER).

Students could post the dollar amount from their purchase on a whiteboard and pose with it on social media for a chance to win $300 towards textbooks.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of the malpractice of how [textbook] publishers stifle competition to protect profits, forcing students to lose tons of money from an unnecessary update,” said Maxwell Nicholson, the campaign and community relations director of the University of Victoria Student Society.

At the same time, UVSS is touting the financial benefits and the altruistic teaching-learning concept of OER (by making people aware of sites such as BC Open Campus (open.bccampus.ca).

The UVSS projects that open textbooks will save UVic students $100,000 in 2017.

Neil Wedin is the course materials manager for the UVic Bookstore and is one of three co-chairs for UVic’s OER strategy committee. He can’t comment on the set price of textbooks his store sells but has a unique insight after one year on the committee.

“What we realized is there are professors who are using OER and may not necessarily tell the bookstore, so there were cases we don’t know what [educational resource] professors were using,” Wedin said. “The goal from the bookstore is to have a collaborative relationship with library and TEL to make material available.”

He added a lot of faculty don’t know what’s available, and that’s another area the committee is looking at.

The Earth and Ocean Sciences 120 course switched from a textbook worth $123.50 last semester to one offered free through the BC Open Textbook Project. It represents a combined savings of about $12,000 for students in the course.

“Academically, universities are catching up to trade schools that are far ahead in using OER textbooks successfully,” said Nicholson.


Young mom in fight of her life

It was January 2015 when Mallory Cooper first experienced difficulties swallowing.

Then 26 years old, Cooper was pregnant with her third child and her increasing inability to absorb nourishment appeared to be pregnancy-related. Her child, a healthy girl, was born in May 2015, but Cooper’s condition worsened.

Two months later, she underwent a barium swallow test, a diagnostic procedure that sees patients swallow liquid barium sulphate while X-rays are obtained. In the case of Cooper, it revealed a mass right where the esophagus meets her stomach. Subsequent tests confirmed stomach cancer (adenocarcinoma). The tumour – found to be some eight centimetres in length – was blocking food, even large gulps of water.

Cooper, who received the diagnosis in the midst of moving to Saanich from Alberta, says she initially denied it. “I never had any health issues before,” she says. In fact, Cooper says she did not really let it sink in until one of her doctors had described the seriousness of the situation.

“I was scared,” she says. “It took me a long time to accept the situation more.”

In October 2015, Cooper underwent surgery to remove most of her stomach, some 40 lymph nodes and large portions of esophagus. But the cancer returned and a scan taken in November 2016 showed a five-centimetre mass on her adrenal gland that had further spread to her right lung.

While cancer can strike anyone at any age, Cooper is entering the prime of life. Her cancer is also the product of a rare genetic disease called Lynch syndrome. Inherited from one of her parents, it makes individuals more susceptible to certain types of cancer.

She started a public online fundraising campaign to help cover travel expenses and other treatment options that might not be covered.

Cooper does not know how much time she has left and her uncertainty turns into regret when she contemplates the possibility of leaving her children.

“We have so many people who love us and will be there for them if something happens to me,” she says. “I know that ultimately they will be OK.”

Contractor sends raw sewage onto Saanich streets

Residents on the south side of the McKenzie interchange project are furious that an error by the province’s contractor forced at least a few hundred gallons of raw sewage up and onto the surface of the ground.

The District of Saanich confirmed the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s project contractor was seen pumping excess storm water into the Saanich sewer system on Dec. 11 and then again on Feb. 9. In both cases it caused a surplus and overflowed out of a manhole cover downstream, said Saanich director of engineering Harley Machielse.

“There was sewage coming out of the hole of the manhole cover, It’s diluted with storm water, but still raw sewage,” Machielse said. “On both occasions our public works crews responded and worked with the contractor to cease operations.”

It’s illegal to tie into the Saanich sanitary system at anytime and the action was not permitted by Saanich, Machielse added.

Despite notifying the contractor, Jacob Bros., that the Dec. 11 action was not permitted, it happened again.

“I’m disappointed it happened. It’s the responsibility of the contractor and the ministry, it’s up to them to do a better job,” said Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell. “Obviously it’s a misunderstanding or mistake.”

The ministry contends, however, that Saanich knew the contractor was tying into the sanitary system.

The sewage runoff comes after a November incident by the same McKenzie Interchange project team which sent thousands of gallons of sediment-filled water into the Colquitz, a federally recognized Greater Victoria Bird Sanctuary with spawning coho salmon.

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Mallory Cooper with her family in their Saanich home.

Maxwell Nicholson holds a sign inviting UVic students to put the dollar amount of how much they spent at their last visit to the UVic bookstore.

Roland Huetzelmann

On Feb. 9 raw sewage billowed out of a manhole cover such as this one on Admirals Road at the Trans Canada Highway.

A homeless campsite sprung up on the Burnside Road offramp from the Trans-Canada Highway.

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