Well, we have survived year two of the COVID-19 pandemic – a year filled with celebrations as vaccines rolled out en masse and restrictions eased, but also heartbreak as a seemingly endless stream of new variants of concern dulled those celebrations.
And of course, November brought record-breaking rains and flooding which wreaked havoc on the province’s already weakened supply chains and left hundreds mopping up. But the West Shore has persevered through it all and heads into 2022 ready for anything.
As we look back at 2021, we here at the Goldstream Gazette have gathered a list of some of our favourite articles from the year.
In the fall, Netflix released Maid, a series filmed all around Greater Victoria. Since the series’ release, all sorts of local businesses and organizations have experienced the impacts of the production, but the West Shore Parks and Recreation preschool may have seen one of the most impressive changes.
Chosen as the site for the sought-after Island Kids daycare in the show, the facility received a complete makeover in February, courtesy of the production crew. Green and cream walls turned bubblegum pink and blue, and a mushroom, a castle and a giant tree sprouted in the space.
“Before it was just kind of a big empty room. This was like ‘wow,’” preschool and daycare programmer Alexandra Matthew said. “So the kids came in super excited to see all the new decorations in there … it made such a change.”
The facility also served as a hospital emergency room and group counselling space in the show.
This past spring, the shallow waters off Vancouver Island featured a rather alien-like sight – the emergence of the giant clam worm. Properly named Nereis brandti, the large swimming worms can grow as long as 30 centimetres and spend most of the year living buried in the sand.
While the worms typically come up to the surface once a year to mate in the spring or summer, this year they were seen emerging in groups.
“This behaviour, which is called swarming, is triggered by a lunar cue. They all swim up into the water column, males and females at the same time, same place, and have a big orgy up there,” said Louise Page, who teaches invertebrate biology and marine biology at the University of Victoria, with a laugh. “They release eggs and sperm, and very rapidly, little larvae develop and start to feed on phytoplankton.”
Shallow water nereididae like these worms play an important role in the food chain. Being primary consumers, they keep the system powered as food for larger fish and other secondary consumers.
As Greater Victoria baked during a hot, dry summer, many flocked to Thetis Lake Regional Park in View Royal to cool off. But with so many people flocking to the same place, cars overflowed from the parking lot and onto surrounding streets, choking traffic and upsetting those who lived near by.
View Royal Mayor David Screech said the problem occurs annually, and all the town’s bylaw enforcement department can do is ticket and tow illegally parked cars.
Neighbours took to calling bylaw enforcement, ranting on social media and even establishing a guerilla-style barricade with a spray-painted NO PARKING plywood sign.
The barricade was on West Park Lane at the newly opened West Park Apartments. A few people stationed themselves in camping chairs with umbrellas, baking in the heat to prevent unauthorized parking on their street.
Other residents called on more park-goers to use public transit, or visit other sites in the region to reduce traffic in the area.
The troubled Danbrook One apartment building in Langford wasn’t able to catch a break in 2021, two years after structural defects forced tenants in all 90 units to be evacuated.
Over the summer, the building’s current owners, Centurion Apartment Properties launched a lawsuit against the seller, builder, engineer and the City of Langford for damages they claim were caused by negligence.
Centurion said they were unaware of any structural issues, having bought the building in August 2019 and quickly filling the building with tenants.
But by Christmas that year, the city revoked the building’s occupancy permit based on a subsequent engineering report which questioned the seismic stability of the building, and whether it was built to code.
In the fall of 2021, the building’s structural engineer, Brian McClure was declared unqualified for the job by Engineers and Geoscientists BC as part of their ongoing investigation into the building’s troubles. McClure was issued an interim practice restriction by the regulatory body, requiring documented reviews of his work by an engineer outside Sorensen Trilogy Structural Engineering Solutions.
Two Greater Victoria men convicted in a fatal 2018 hammer attack on Shawn Campbell were sentenced to six years each in prison in November, after pleading guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter.
Lee Hart, 40, and Nathen Monsour, 34, learned their fate after several days of sentencing hearings which at times saw two courtrooms overflowing, mostly with friends and family of Campbell.
The Crown argued the two men should be sentenced to seven to eight years for the crime, based on Hart’s prior convictions and the fact the pair planned the attack and used weapons.
Hart’s lawyer argued for four and-a-half years followed by three years probation, Monsour’s lawyer asked for four years. In the end, Judge Lisa Mrozinski took the middle ground, issuing six-year sentences for both, minus time already served.
The attack which ultimately killed Campbell was the result of a soured friendship between he and Monsour. The court heard Campbell suspected a romantic relationship between his estranged wife and Monsour and damaged his apartment and truck.
When Monsour discovered the damage and reported it to police, he then gathered some friends, including Hart, sought out Campbell, and attacked him with hammer blows to the head.
After road damage resulting from record-breaking rains and flooding left a film crew stranded in traffic, two crew members decided to pass the time and brightened their fellow motorists’ day by dancing on Highway 1 amongst the stopped traffic.
Captured on camera by the film’s director Arnold Lim, video of the impromptu dance session quickly gained the attention of Islanders still in shock from the extreme weather.
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