When Andrew Strauss built a home on wheels, he intended to live in it full-time. While the Victoria man ended up keeping his apartment, he says the unconventional ‘van life’ offers many people personal and financial freedom. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Victoria’s top stories of 2019

These are the stories that caught the attention of our online readers

Here are the most-read stories online at vicnews.com of 2019.

Victoria man builds ‘home on wheels’ for personal, financial freedom

The question of affordability is often a hot topic and one resident’s interesting approach caught the attention of many.

A Victoria man says part of the reason he transformed a 14-foot long old truck into a “home on wheels” is because he doesn’t want to be shackled to the debt that comes with buying a home in Greater Victoria.

But that’s just one of the reasons Andrew Strauss created a miniature mobile home. He’s taken the truck on plenty of trips, including to the world-famous Nevada-based festival, Burning Man.

Strauss intended to live in the truck full-time, but after a land sale on the Gulf Islands fell through and his father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, he is selling the truck and plans to build a garden suite on his parents’ property so he can be nearby.

‘The system has fallen apart:’ Victoria woman’s son died a day after being accepted to treatment centre

Also topping the list was the tragic death of Michael Mahoney and the holes in the system it revealed.

The 21-year-old’s body went undiscovered for five days after he overdosed on fentanyl in his pine-green pickup truck, parked in a busy downtown lot on Wharf Street.

There were two parking tickets on the dash when his friend found the truck.

The day before he died, Michael had been approved for treatment at a facility in Burnaby. His mother, Jan Mahoney, had been working with his counsellor at the Victoria Youth Clinic and pushing to get his application approved for months.

She said the system failed her son and it might be failing hundreds of others. She slogged through the bureaucratic barriers of getting Michael into treatment, making daily phone calls about the progress of his application – all while he descended further into addiction.

Mahoney said her son’s first experience with an opioid came through the form of a prescription pad. A pain clinic prescribed him a nasal opioid and later, when the pain continued, he was prescribed Dilaudid tablets – opioid analgesics that work in the brain for pain management. The prescriptions went on for months but when the illness ended, so did his “safe” supply.

Since his death, Mahoney and her husband Glen are hoping for a BC Coroners inquest – something she said was brought up by the coroner who dealt with Michael’s case.

Victoria woman advocates for equality in yoga studio after being asked to cover-up

A Victoria woman hopes her experience at a local yoga studio will start a conversation about desexualizing nudity.

Jen Frizzley’s second class at Quantum Yoga Club was “significantly hotter” than her first. Laying in the room before class, she says she quickly realized she wasn’t going to enjoy the class in her thick workout top.

When Frizzley looked around she noticed a number of men in the room were already shirtless. So, after checking it was okay with the receptionist and instructor, she decided she too, would go topless. But after the class, the instructor asked her to wear a top next time.

For Frizzley, the incident brings up questions about sexualization and free will. She’s started a Facebook group called Topfree (topless) Yoga Victoria and is speaking with studios in the city about hosting topless classes for women.

“I think it’s about desexualizing the body and allowing people to be free and make their own independent choices,” she said. “We shouldn’t be forcing people to wear things or take things off.”

Drivers are ‘ICE-ing’ electric car charging spots in Greater Victoria

There’s a lot of etiquette when it comes to parking in an electric vehicle spot and it caught the attention of our Victoria readers.

Sometimes, it’s bad etiquette, like parking a Tesla in a short-term electric vehicle spot. Or the ultimate sin, when drivers intentionally park their internal combustion engines (ICE) in dedicated electric vehicle (EV) charging spots. EV drivers call it ‘getting ICEd.’

It happened to resident Valerie Irvine this summer on a visit to Oak Bay municipal hall. Most days, Irvine ensures her 2011 Leaf is fully charged enough for the day’s needs but on a particular visit to the hall, she hoped to use one of Oak Bay’s two EV charging spots. One of the charging spots was free but a man beat her to it and parked his gas-powered truck instead.

“I politely asked him if I could park there and he belligerently swore and walked off into the municipal hall,” Irvine said. “He said, ‘it doesn’t say I can’t park there.’”

It’s all part of the shift from ICE vehicles to EVs, which is going to be a major component in reducing the carbon footprint of British Columbians. Incentives for EVs in B.C. are about $1,500 for short-range and $3,000 for long-range.

Phone in cupholder isn’t OK, B.C. public safety minister says

And rounding out the top stories of the year is one that drew provincial attention.

Having your cellphone close at hand in your vehicle cupholder does not comply with B.C. law against distracted driving, according to Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

“The cellphone is supposed to be mounted, and it’s not accessible. The police do have some discretion, and obviously, if people feel that they were ticketed unfairly, they have the ability to fight that in court,” Farnworth told reporters at the B.C. legislature.

A B.C. senior did just that after receiving a $368 ticket for distracted driving during a routine check.

Her lawyer reported Oct. 2 that police had cancelled the ticket. Her son also protested on social media that his mother’s phone was connected to Bluetooth for hands-free use at the time.


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