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Mission Year in Review

The Mission Record
The Mission Record's annual Year in Review
— image credit: Record image

January

 

The Sturgeon’s on the Fraser project received new life, as district council fulfilled an election promise to bring “McBarge” to public hearing.

The proposed $10-million floating restaurant and marina at the foot of Horne Street had been stalled under the previous council, as the planning department considered the application incomplete without acquiring adjacent land for parking, referred to as the uplands.

Mayor Ted Adlem moved that the previous CD-21 zone for the foreshore area of McBarge be rescinded of first and second reading, so that the new incarnation, CD-23 zone, could pass first and second reading and proceed to public hearing, which happened Jan. 30.

The whole project had become a chicken-egg paradox, since Meakin was reportedly reluctant to acquire the land without approval of the project, while the district would not approve the project without a land use plan for parking.

During question period former councillor Mike Scudder, who presided over the first application for McBarge, asked whether staff in the planning department have since changed their opinion that the project was considered incomplete.

But now-retired chief administrative officer Glen Robertson was quick to say it wouldn’t be fair to ask staff to provide an opinion.

 

February

 

Developer Howard Meakin stood up and triumphantly raised his fists over his head following approval of third reading of his floating restaurant at public hearing.

The gesture was made half in jest, since the two-year battle to receive full approval may be only half over. Meakin must still follow a number of other requirements prior to adoption of the foreshore zone amending bylaw, including the acquisition of adjacent land to meet district parking requirements.

Municipal hall was filled to capacity that night as overflow spectators sat in the foyer to listen to residents and past councillors.

Meakin said the barge will be cleaned before it’s towed to Mission, but it will be refurbished and renovated here.

“It’s not a mom and pop operation, but it’s a lot of money and it’s a lot of jobs,” he said, assuring people in attendance that Missionites would benefit from employment before and after project completion.

Of the 28 written submissions sent to the district, 26 offered support for the project, including the tourism boards of regional municipalities, with just two opposed.

In addition to securing the upland properties, Meakin must also have a long-term lease of the foreshore area from the province, make dike improvements, provide engineering and landscaping plans, and other stipulations prior to full approval.

 

• A proposed $80-million commercial and residential development at Wren Street and Lougheed Highway received environmental approval, according to developer Karel Carhoun.

“After considering the proposed project mitigation, including avoidance, minimization, and mitigation measures; proponent commitments; follow-up monitoring; and adaptive management, the project is not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” reads the document.

The decision, which Carhoun has been awaiting since September 2009, is an about-face from DFO, which the developer said had previously indicated in early January that it would not approve the venture.

“I’m just happy to receive this authorization so we can move forward with the project,” said Carhoun. “It’s been two-and-a-half years and it’s been a very frustrating and costly process.”

Carhoun’s project could generate as many as 1,000 jobs and provide about $2.5 million in additional property taxes to the district based on estimates made by Mission’s economic development officer, Stacey Crawford.

 

March

 

The community came out to celebrate Mission fire station three’s 20th anniversary.

A full hall of firefighters and many who helped bring the facility to life in 1991 were on hand to commemorate the occasion, including former district councillors, MLAs and retired firefighters.

Cutting the cake for the event was Tom O’Beirne, who chaired the Southwest Mission Ratepayers when work to build the hall began.

The event also marked a change of leadership at the hall, with District Chief Mike Lavallee retiring and handing his responsibilities over to Len Pesonen. These two men, along with three others, were original members of the station.

 

• The District of Mission had not presented a budget with a zero per cent tax increase in at least 38 years, said Mayor Ted Adlem at a special council meeting to garner public input.

That’s according to anecdotal conversations with long-time residents like Coun. Larry Nundal, who said he’s never heard of a budget going forward without a tax increase.

“Council has a taxpayer-in-mind

philosophy with regards to municipal finances,” said Coun. Tony Luck, finance chair.

The achievement was no small task, as a Nov. 3 draft budget document from the district’s finance department indicated there would be a 6.18 per cent tax increase.

Instead, staff in almost every department were asked to create a base

budget at 90 per cent of 2011 levels, eventually resulting in $1.6 million in savings. This was done, said Luck, with minimal impact to jobs and services.

The district has enacted several temporary cost-saving measures during the three-month Core Services Review, set to finish in June, including a hiring freeze, a freeze on council remunerations, and a voluntary tax contribution on 2012 tax bills.

 

April

One man was dead, and another was injured after a shooting on Manson Street in Hatzic in April.

Mission RCMP said when they arrived at the home, located between Dann Avenue and Catchpole Avenue, they found one man, a 41-year-old Mission resident, inside the house shot in the head.

The shooter, a 47-year-old Abbotsford man, was located outside, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot from a handgun.

The victim was taken to Royal Columbian Hospital via air ambulance and is in critical condition, however, police say he will live.

RCMP said the shooter was familiar with the victim as he had been in a previous relationship with the victim’s current partner.

Mounties had no previous knowledge of any relationship problems

Neighbours across the street said their 11-year-old son heard three gunshots from his second-floor bedroom window.

“We were all shocked,” said Jacquelyn Turner, describing the neighbourhood as quiet.

Her husband, Magnus Turner, said he believes there were two children living in the home. They were reportedly taken away by a family member in a car around 2 a.m.

The Turners were watching television when the shooting took place and neither heard gunshots, but went to the front door when Magnus noticed emergency crews arrive and a K9 unit began searching the area.

Jacquelyn said the neighbours had moved in about a month ago.

 

• Mission’s iconic landmark, the Bellevue Hotel, has been sold by owner Brad Fletcher, meaning it will change hands from a Fletcher to somebody outside the family for the first time in nearly 80 years.

The hotel had been in the clan since 1935 when Brad’s grandparents, George and Mildred Fletcher, operated the Bellevue Lodge, consisting of 16 rooms and a cafe.

Then in 1948-49 the hotel was completely rebuilt and the structure as it currently looks opened on July 27, 1949.

Brad says he didn’t go looking for a buyer or decide to put the landmark up for sale himself. He was approached by a realtor who had clients interested in purchasing the hotel.

“There was a large number of reasons that, when combined, persuaded me to sell the business. Among the more prominent factors were, the building is 63 years old and a challenge to maintain; the bar business has been in decline for a number of years and I believe that trend will continue; I did not think it was a good career for my daughter to become involved in,” he said.

New owners took over operations June 2.

 

• A divided audience packed council chambers as proponents of the $80-million Wren Creek development argued in favour of jobs and taxes, while opponents warned against irreparably damaging the environment.

Roughly 30 people voiced their thoughts about the project before council voted 7-0 to approve third reading.

Support and opposition to the development was divided right up the middle, with half speaking in favour and another 12 who couldn’t accept the application in its current form, mostly citing environmental concerns.

Although many people took their five-minute time allotment to speak about environmental worries of developing 32 acres of the property, Mayor Ted Adlem surprised the room by saying the public hearing was just a land use question and that questions about the environment should be directed to senior levels of government.

The developer first applied for a variance in June 2009, which spurred a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) screening, including investigation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to confirm that no harmful alteration or destruction of fish habitat would occur on the site.

That process took nearly three years to complete, with DFO concluding in February that the project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” though DFO took into account the proponent’s mitigation plan, which includes purchasing the nearby Sun Valley Trout Park, to be converted into a fish habitat preserve.

Getting environmental approval had been tricky, with Environment Canada noting the area is a known habitat for 10 federally endangered species, while specifically the provincially red-listed Oregon Forestsnail had been found on the site.

Several people tried to bridge the chasm between new tax dollars and the environment, suggesting the development should be limited to the eastern portion of the site, and kept away from the Silverdale wetlands which it borders.

The application was submitted under the comprehensive development zone to allow for two drive-thrus, which skirts around the district’s own bylaw prohibiting them. Two previous petitions have been forwarded to council opposing drive-thru restaurants, including a 794-signature petition last May.

 

May

A driver died after veering off Dewdney Trunk Road near Welch Avenue. He was been identified as 57-year-old David Kernovich of Mission.

The crash occurred just north of the Mission Rod and Gun Club.

According to Mission RCMP, the man was driving north along Dewdney around noon when his red Ford sport utility vehicle crossed the southbound lane and went into the dense underbrush.

 

• The third floor apartments at 33076 First Ave. were evacuated and closed by order of the B.C. fire commissioner May 23.

According to Mission Fire Rescue Service’s Asst. Chief Larry Watkinson, “extreme fire hazard conditions” present in the building prompted the department to seek the order.

Smoke alarms and bells were pulled off the walls and some of the fire breaks were breached, he said.

Residents were given notice at 9 a.m. that they had to leave by noon, and Mission Community Services was on scene helping people find alternate accommodations. Food and transportation were also provided for any former residents, said Watkinson. Round the clock security has been arranged to keep any remaining possessions safe.

The fire department conducted 15 inspections over three months, and no compliance with orders to correct safety concerns were heeded.

Only 10 similar orders were enacted across B.C. last year, as the process for approval is stringent, explained Watkinson.

 

• For businesses to relocate to Mission, there needs to be a good quality of life for employees, and skilled technical training and educational opportunities, according to a regional informational technology (IT) expert.

And Mission took another step forward in increasing its desirability to companies through the newly announced IT technician (ITT) program which started at Riverside College in September.

The five-course endeavour sees graduates earn industry association standard certifications that comply with ministry of education standards.

Ray Szabada, founder of the non-profit Sumas Regional Consortium for High Technology (SRC-Tec) has been working on the underpinnings of this program since 2007, in collaboration with university professors and other technically sound professionals.

Mission is well-poised to emerge as an industry leader due to companies recognizing the high price of doing business and leasing property in Metro Vancouver, he said.

The Riverside program is the only program in the Fraser Valley providing certifications for this level of training. Graduates will join the work force as entry-level IT administrators, call centre support, desktop support and small business IT support workers.

 

June

In a bid to trim costs, an administrative restructuring happened at Mission Public Schools District (MPSD).

According to a district memo, the following positions were eliminated, some effective the end of June and others by July: Deputy superintendent: Brenda Lightburn; Director of instruction (student learning): Graham Black; Vice-principal (student services): Cyndie Anderson; Vice-principal (Riverside College): Rick Fitch; Director of school operations: Stan Weir; Custodial manager: Bert Bastiaansen; Payroll supervisor: Marie Schultze; School business managers: Marie Powell and Mary Shurko.

Lightburn has been seconded to the Ministry of Education for a year, but will not be returning to MPSD afterwards. Anderson and Fitch took other jobs in the district, while the remainder were laid off.

The work was split to others throughout the district.

According to trustee chair Edie Heinrichs, the changes are aimed at saving around $700,000.

She said the board “inherited a deficit of more than $900,000 with only three years to pay this back and have a projected shortfall of $1.2 million for next year.”

Heinrichs also noted that exempt staff levels have been rising in the past few years and that “if some of these cuts had been made in the previous years’ shortfalls, we would not have had to cut as deep.”

 

• B.C.’s environment minister issued an emergency declaration in June regarding improperly secured vessels along the Fraser River near Mission.

The former Queen of Sidney and six other derelict vessels in the same location represented a significant risk to public safety, critical infrastructure and the environment if they broke free during high water, said a government press release.

Resources were called in to deal with the problem, and the ministry said it will pursue “cost recovery” for related expenses.

The moored vessels were at risk of breaking free of their moorings due to their general poor condition and the high river flows and flood-related debris that could place additional strain on the mooring lines, the release read.

 

• A long, often raucous public meeting that threatened to fall apart at one point, was held in Chilliwack in June on a proposed gravel mining plan for the Fraser Valley region.

Fraser Valley Regional District directors faced pointed questions about the plan to locate gravel mines according to a proposed three-colour mapping scheme, as well as the “secret” negotiations that led up to the Aggregate Pilot Project.

Most of the 200-plus audience came from the Lake Errock area in Electoral Area C where complaints about existing gravel mines and the proposed APP have been festering for years.

One positive note heard during the three-hour meeting — a call for a “fresh start” to the planning process that would see the B.C. government using its purchasing power to control gravel mine locations — was almost lost in the bitterness over the lack of public involvement in developing the APP.

Walter Neufeld, a vocal critic of the APP, said if FVRD directors were supposed to represent the public during the negotiations, how many meetings did they hold with constituents to hear their views.

“Our understanding is there were no meetings,” he said.

FVRD directors will now consider what they heard at the meeting and decide whether to approve a memorandum of understanding to begin implementation of the APP.

If approved, a regional soil removal bylaw will be developed and submitted to the FVRD board for approval.

 

July

California’s Mike Maggio shattered the world record for the fastest recorded speed with a door car in July in the final round of the West Coast Outlaw Pro Mods at Mission Raceway Park.

Maggio blasted through the quarter-mile strip at 261.09 mph, with an elapsed time of 5.90 in his Outlaw Camaro.

He won the Pro Mod part of the event in convincing fashion, and ran the quickest time in Western Canada in the process, 5.82 in the second qualifying run that weekend.

Maggio was the fastest all weekend long and left with one of the most coveted milestones in drag racing.

Joe Delehay made the quickest run of any Canadian driver at the event, turning in a 6.18/230 mph in round one of eliminations.

There were two wild crashes on the weekend as well, one including local driver Trevor Lowe in the brand new RH/Lowe Down ‘70 Camaro. Lowe was not hurt in the crash, but the car suffered substantial damage.

 

August

Mission’s Brent Hayden finally captured this past August the one swimming honour that had eluded him twice before.

The amicable pool powerhouse whose likeness graces a Mission Leisure Centre wall, fought off years of disappointment and secured Olympic immortality as he swam to a bronze in the 100m freestyle.

About 150 people — who cheered, whistled and even cried — crammed into the Leisure Centre lobby Aug. 1 to watch the event.

Clocking in a time of 47.80, it was good enough to stand on the podium in London, England alongside gold medal winner Nathan Adrian from the U.S., who posted a time of 47.52, and silver medallist James Magnussen of Australia (47.53).

Hayden had struggled at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, failing to qualify for the 100m free final after winning gold at the world championships the previous year.

The bronze represented the Canadian swim team’s first podium finish of the London Games.

“With 25 metres left to go, right when it started to hurt, I told myself, ‘Brent, this is going to be your last 100 freestyle ever,’” he said in a post-race CTV interview. “’Just go for it.’ And I did.

“I’ve got way too many people to thank, and I know there’s a bunch of people out in Mission right now at the Leisure Centre watching me. Knowing they all came out to watch is a huge inspiration for me.”

The packed lobby of the Leisure Centre exploded with cheers every time Hayden’s picture was up on screen.

The lively crowd gradually got louder after Hayden’s race began and peaked when he touched the wall and a bronze medal was secured.

Dozens of Mission Marlins Swim Club members — the club with which Hayden began his competitive swimming journey — brought handmade signs and their voices to cheer on their hometown hero.

Five days after Hayden’s medal winning performance, he officially announced his retirement from the sport.

He leaves behind an impressive litany of international swimming honours: five World Championship medals, eight Commonwealth Games medals and eight Pan Pacific Championships medals over 10 years.

 

September

Mission is considering a water metering system in order to maximize the lifespan of the current supply.

The Strategic Long Term Water Supply and Demand Management Study, presented to council in September, outlined three options and recommended Mission and Abbotsford implement Wise Water Management (WWM) principles, which encourages conservation and delaying the addition of a new resource for as long as possible.

The three scenarios are:

• Status quo. The district would continue to educate and raise awareness on the situation and offer rebates for low-flow toilets and high efficiency washing machines. Mission would need a new water source around 2021.

• Moderate. This is a voluntary water meter program which would result in about 18 per cent conservation, and would meet Mission’s needs until 2034.

• High. A universal residential water meter program would be phased in over three years and conserve about 37 per cent. Mission would not need a new water source until around 2041.

The study, presented by Mike Younie, revealed a single family residential home in Mission uses about 60 per cent more water than an equivalent Abbotsford home.

Mission is using 466 litres of water per person per day, compared to Abbotsford’s 293 litres in 2011, said Younie, adding there are signs Abbotsford’s use has now declined to about 220.

“Mission has no incentive to conserve with a flat rate,” explained Younie.

Abbotsford has had universal water metering in place for decades and upgraded to a radio read system last year.

Younie said there isn’t a water crisis yet, and using WWM, there won’t be one for 10 to 20 years.

He is recommending the district proceed with a universal water metering program.

When the district explored the issue a few years ago, a cost estimate of $12 million was quoted, but Younie said that is a very rough ballpark figure today.

In less than two years the district will have saved up about $6 million from Community Works Gas Tax Funds for this project, and look at internal borrowing before going to external sources, he said. There are also grants the district can apply for from senior governments.

Mission will not have funds to contribute to a new water source for 20 years and the district needs to make that clear to Abbotsford, said Younie.

The study also recommends examining new water sources, especially ones that would enhance the existing system, such as the one at Cannell Lake.

The report is being presented to the Mission Abbotsford Water Sewer Commission, both councils, and the public. Mission council wants to consult with residents about a water metering system before deciding.

The full report is available at mission.ca and will be presented at Mission council’s Community Dialogue session, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at the Leisure Centre.

 

• Mission celebrated its 120th birthday in September, and the Parks, Recreation and Culture department organized an old-fashioned sports day to coincide with Sports Day in Canada.

There were four stations through which participants rotate. The first was an old-fashioned ones, such as potato sack, egg and spoon, bean bag balance, and three-legged races, and the second was parachute games and athletic and agility challenges, like running through hoops and over mats. There were also be two obstacle courses.

Participants were be given wrist bands and will be organized in age categories.

Other events included official ceremonies at 12 p.m., followed by live music, a birthday cake, hot dogs and refreshments; storyboard displays from various community groups; a historic fashion show called Mission: The Times We Had; The Clothes We Wore at 2 p.m.; and a 15-minute documentary by local filmmaker Ian Low. The celebrations continued in the evening with former mayors and councillors and performances by local dancers and choirs.

 

October

Mission’s mayor introduced legislation to scrap the Public Safety Inspection Team (PSIT) by year’s end.

The district isn’t using the bylaw and it’s just sitting in the books, Mayor Ted Adlem explained.

“There is no PSIT team now, nor will there ever be one under my watch,” he added.

The PSIT bylaw has been contentious since its 2008 inception. The bylaw was created to address concerns regarding clandestine drug labs and marijuana grow operations, allowing the district to penalize property owners whose homes are found to be altered to produce illegal drugs, like marijuana and methamphetamine.

The team visited homes based on data from BC Hydro indicating unusually high power consumption.

Property owners whose homes were suspected of housing illegal substances were charged $4,900 for the inspection and a $300 administration fee. Additional remediation inspections were $250.

The team was put on hold indefinitely in January 2011 and every file, except for ones initiated by police, is being reviewed.

The review wasn’t completed by the end of the year, said Adlem, who noted it is being worked on weekly.

 

November

About 130 people attended the inaugural downtown planning session in November, which marked the first step towards creating a plan to reshape the First Avenue area.

An open house started off the night, where the public was able to read the storyboards and speak to some of the consultants and planners from HB Lanarac, the company tasked with formulating the plan.

A brief presentation by project manager Joaquin Karakas explained some of the challenges, opportunities and realities of the plan.

“Downtowns are the heart of the community and a source of local pride,” he noted.

There needs to be a mix of uses, including housing, institutional, educational, and parks, all while attracting a combination of seniors and young adults to inhabit the area, said Karakas.

The downtown is the “living room of the community, and a well designed downtown is important to protect the private investment” in the area, he continued.

On the challenges side, Karakas said the perception of crime is a problem for all downtowns.

“If people don’t feel safe, they won’t come,” he said.

Also, the highway running through is a challenge, coupled with a lack of activity outside of regular business hours.

“The downtown needs to be safe throughout the day,” Karakas said. More life can be brought down with more housing and pubs, for example.

The project lead said there are lots of opportunities for the area, but one of the key problems is the underappreciation of the economic importance of downtown, and the overemphasis on beautification.

The downtown plan, which is currently in the first of three phases, will use the information from the open house to frame discussions around how Mission’s area should look.

In the second phase, the vision, principles and concept plan for the downtown will be created through a series of public and stakeholder workshops, including the downtown design charrette Jan. 16-17. (See box for additional information.)

Based on phases one and two, a comprehensive plan will be developed that will include policies, guidelines and implementation strategies.

Additionally, a mass e-mail list (downtown@mission.ca) has been compiled and receivers can suggest people to add, or forward the message, and the receiver can request to be included in future disseminations. This e-mail can also be used to send suggestions and feedback to consultants.

 

December

Mission’s own world-famous singer Carly Rae Jepsen was back home this month for a high-energy concert at the Clarke Theatre.

Playing a selection of her hits, including This Kiss and Call Me Maybe, Jepsen performed for the hometown crowd of appreciative fans that nearly packed the venue.

Speaking to The Record before the concert, Larry Jepsen, Carly Rae’s father, said she’s “always been so grateful for the support from Mission.”

The 27-year-old double Grammy nominee was thrilled to be able to put on a show for her local fans, he continued.

Among Carly Rae’s list of positive influences in her musical career is Heritage Park Secondary School drama teacher Bev Holmes.

“This is totally exciting and totally fun,” said Holmes before the music began, noting that Carly Rae has maintained a happy and humble attitude about her runaway success. “That’s still who she is.”

The free concert was brought to Mission by retailer Target, which handed out tickets last Tuesday at the Leisure Centre.

For video of the concert, and more photos, visit missioncityrecord.com and our Facebook page.

 

• It was deju vu all over again, but reversed.

Mission Secondary School’s junior varsity football squad beat the Abbotsford Panthers in the Subway Bowl in mid-December, handing them a 20-18 loss and earning the provincial championship title.

Later in the day, the varsity team faced off against the South Delta Sun Devils and lost.

Last year, it was the opposite, with varsity taking top spot, and the JVs earning second.

This marked the fourth straight year the JVs have played in the finals, said coach John Kapty, who along with coaches Glen Roberts and Ray Jung have now earned three titles.

“It feels great. Just as good as the first time.”

It was tied 8-8 at the half, but the turning point came after an unfortunate injury to Abbotsford’s quarterback.

Mission quarterback Jesse Walker scored all three touchdowns and earned most valuable player honours.

Bryce Fillion rushed for 101 “difficult” yards in the game.

Kane Freestone-Smith was named best lineman for his efforts on both sides of the ball that included a tackle in the end zone for a two-point safety. Bicky Gill was the top receiver with five catches for 70 yards. Linebacker Peter Kulba led the defense with 13 tackles, and Dayton Robertson had nine tackles. Landon Rayburn had two interceptions defensively and Danny Jung had one.

“It’s so great to the see the kids get rewarded for their hard work.  We ask a lot of our players on and off the field,” Kapty said. “This team continued to work hard and get better. That’s the formula for success in JV football.”

 

Varsity

The season-long drive for the second consecutive varsity provincial championship started to unravel quickly in the fourth quarter in December, according to head coach Kevin Watrin.

“It was a hard-fought championship game, and the score was not indicative of the game,” he said about the 31-14 loss.

The Roadrunners started slow, falling behind 11-0 in the first quarter, but scored in the second, going into the half trailing 11-7.

The senior team made a stab at a comeback and took the lead early in the third, 17-14, before a series of fourth quarter turnovers resulted in a “quick inflation of the score, said Watrin. This included South Delta blocking a punt, then the Roadrunners fumbling the kickoff which allowed the Sun Devils to put another touchdown on the score card.

On season stalwart quarterback Kevin Wiens, Watrin opined that the graduating player deserved the player of the year honour.

“He’s the most dynamic player I’ve seen in our 10 years in the football program,” said Watrin.

In the final, Wiens passed for 36 yards, ran for 103, and scored two touchdowns. Evan Horton, another standout player this season, rushed for 93 yards.

Defensively, Arjun Bhogal made five tackles, Horton claimed 15, while Wiens tallied five.

“We are proud of how our boys never gave up and always gave their all on every play,” said Watrin. “They are a special group of athletes.”

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