Sooke’s Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, died after the pickup truck they were travelling in was swept into the Sooke River due to unprecedented flooding in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park late January. (Facebook)

Sooke’s Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, died after the pickup truck they were travelling in was swept into the Sooke River due to unprecedented flooding in Sooke Potholes Provincial Park late January. (Facebook)

Loss, love and light: Here are Sooke’s top stories of 2020

Community mourns loss of three young Sooke men, free meals handed out amid pandemic and more

Though 2020 has been a year of ups and downs, the Sooke community has proven to be a force to be reckoned with as a tight-knit community. Regardless of the pandemic claiming the most coverage this year, we’ve compiled your top stories of 2020 from www.sookenewsmirror.com.

1. Story emerging from Sooke River tragedy

Sooke’s Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and Anthony (A.J.) Jensen died on Jan. 31 when their pickup truck was engulfed in water during unprecedented flooding near the lower parking lot of the Sooke Potholes. The three 20-year-old friends who graduated from Edward Milne Community School together were last seen earlier that day leaving Jensen’s parents’ home. The truck they were driving was later found wedged in the trees and underbrush on the banks of the Sooke River.

2. Messages of support and positivity pop up around Greater Victoria amid COVID-19

As the world began isolating and practicing social distancing measures in March, Greater Victoria residents found their own ways to support and encourage their communities. Letters to neighbours, sidewalk chalkboard messages and posters popped up, with messages such as “Every little thing is gonna be alright” and “Stronger together, but six feet apart.”

3. Sooke family faces eviction for living in motorhome

The District of Sooke tried to force a family with two young children who live in a recreational vehicle on land they rent, to leave their property in early December. This came after a bylaw officer fined the property owner $200 by the district after the family had been living on vacant land since September. The eviction was later blocked and Sooke officials have allowed the family to remain until May 1.

4. First Nation dispute closes part of school parking lot in Sooke

The Sooke School District fenced off a large portion of the Edward Milne Community School parking lot in late February after a dispute concerning a family cemetery of the T’Sou-ke First Nations. The issue revolved around claims that EMCS students, staff and guests damaged the cemetery area. The issue was later resolved between the school district and the George family.

5. Mourning Sooke mom preps free meals for the community

A Sooke woman cooked hundreds of meals for the community to help out during the pandemic in early April. Brooke Ervin, whose daughter Hannah Day died after a seven-year battle with cancer in 2019, said it was the perfect opportunity to show gratitude for how much Sooke supported her in the past.

READ MORE: Sooke Christmas Bureau gifted with $36,000 donation by firefighters

6. B.C. changes course on Sooke Potholes gate security

The B.C. Environment Ministry agreed to take action to close the first parking lot gate at Sooke Potholes Provincial Park after three 20-year-olds died after their car was swept away during unprecedented flooding in the area in late January. The men were only able to access that point by the gate being left open, a situation that had been true for several years, due to the growth of bushes.

7. Prehistoric fish found near Sooke named after amateur collector

During a fossil expedition to a beach near Muir Creek, an amateur collector discovered the skeletal remains of a fish from the Upper Oligocene age, believed to have lived about 25 million years ago. The new species was donated to the Royal B.C. Museum and was named Canadodus suntoki – Canadodus meaning “tooth from Canada,” and suntoki after amateur collector Steve Suntok.

8. Sooke mom faces ‘pandemic police’ for bringing kids to the grocery store

A Sooke woman says she faced hostility while grocery shopping with her two children, amid ‘stay home’ orders that rang out from provincial press conferences and social media posts in late March. With her husband deployed in the military and no family in the area to help with babysitting, Janene Walker said strangers shouldn’t be as quick to judge if they don’t know a certain situation.

9. Sooke couple to be focus of new reality TV show

One of the last independent sawmills on Vancouver Island took the focus of a reality TV show that premiered on History Channel Canada in early October. Big Timber follows the dangerous work of a Sooke logger and his family as they endeavour to log a timber claim on the slopes of Klitsa Mountain, the second-highest summit on the southern half of the Island.

10. Sooke takes next step to demolish unsafe building

The District of Sooke approved the demolition of the “Tin Grotto” in late January, a building which served as Sooke’s first machine shop in the 1940s, after it was found to be structurally unsafe. Since then, the building has been torn down, as no action was taken by the owner to re-mediate the property.

ALSO READ: More than 15,000 people have died in Canada due to COVID-19


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com

Best of 2020Sooke

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students from Cedar Hill Middle School play and hold a sign to protest proposed music cuts to school band programs in the Greater Victoria School District, during a Monday event. The district is facing a massive deficit and is considering a number of options for cutting costs. (Photo courtesy Laura Alcaraz-Sehn)
Massive student demonstration planned to protest Greater Victoria school band cuts

Band students from 14 SD61 schools will be at major intersections Thursday after school

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

Reuben Forsland in his East Sooke studio with the guitar he crafted from hemp wood that he hopes will start a conversation about sustainability. (Rick Stiebel - Sooke News Mirror)
East Sooke artisan strikes a chord with custom guitars

Guitars include wood from Hendrix childhood home in Seattle

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

A man accused of choking a 15-year-old in his tent in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night has been arrested by Victoria police. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man accused of choking, sexually exploiting 15-year-old in Victoria tent arrested

Police arrested the 38-year-old in Beacon Hill Park Wednesday afternoon

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Ocean Legacy Foundation members conduct a shoreline pollution cleanup in Vancouver. (OLP)
It’s time to end ‘suffocating’ plastic pollution along B.C. shorelines, advocates urge

This Earth Day, Ocean Legacy Foundation is launching a free educational platform to educate the public about plastic pollution

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
B.C. teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

The Coastal Fire Centre is looking ahead to the wildfire season on Vancouver Island. (Phil McLachlan – Western News)
Coastal Fire Centre looking ahead at wildfire season on Vancouver Island

‘We’re asking people in the spring to be very careful’

There are lots of resources for seniors looking for information about COVID-19. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
COVID questions? Here are some phone-based resources available for seniors

Here is a list of numbers to keep on hand for Vancouver Islanders who aren’t fond of computers

Chum Salmon fry being examined with multiple motile and attached sea lice on Vargas Island. (Cedar Coast Field Station photo)
Study: Tofino fish farm sea lice infestations add fuel to push to remove open pens

Ahousaht First Nation asking for higher standards than what DFO requires

Most Read