2015: A Year in Review – January to June

The Mission Record takes a look back at some of the stories that made headlines in the past year.

  • Thu Dec 31st, 2015 12:00pm
  • News

JANUARY

LAWSUIT COSTS DISTRICT

Documents showed the municipality spent more than $60,000 unsuccessfully defending itself in a lawsuit it eventually concluded it was destined to lose. A settlement reached in early 2013 also saw the district pay $8,199 for the legal costs of the plaintiff, who alleged the municipality failed to comply with the Local Government Act and acted in bad faith when it changed a bylaw to prohibit a pharmacy from opening on First Avenue. The total cost to the district was $70,028.

 

SEEKING COMPENSATION

Dale Scott invested in a home on Topper Street with his mom in 2006. Now the cost of repairs due to damages became a financial strain. Scott and two neighbors allege a retaining wall built just below his property for Heritage Marketplace in 2010 was not properly designed, inspected and constructed. The defendants in the case are the District of Mission, the builders of the shopping mall on Stave Lake Street and 11 Ave., and the engineers of the project.

 

FEBRUARY

 

DRUG OPERATION CLEAN-UP

The District of Mission spent hundreds of thousands of dollars last fall to clean up a property near the corner of Glasgow Avenue and Horne Street that was used as a synthetic drug lab. Now, the district is hoping to recover some of the money and prevent similar incidents in the future with a new bylaw aimed at making property owners pay for such cleanups.

 

MORE MOUNTIES

For the first time in almost 10 years, the district plans to expand the Mission police force. Three more Mounties are expected to join the detachment, bringing the total number of officers funded by the district to 50.

 

CAO TERMINATED

Changes needed to be made at municipal hall to move Mission in a new direction, said Mayor Randy Hawes after the district announced the dismissal of its chief administrative officer. The termination was immediate, added Hawes, noting details of former CAO Ken Bjorgaard’s severance package are personal.

TEACHER REMEMBERED

More than 30 years after his death, the remains of Mission teacher Walter Pickersgill have been laid to rest. Former students, along with friends and family members, attended a special ceremony, organized by Sandy Maguire, at Hatzic Cemetery. Pickersgill was an English teacher in Mission. He was born on Jan. 24, 1909 and passed away June 27,1981. His body was cremated in Mission, but his remains were never claimed.

 

MARCH

TAX HIKE 2.5% MAXIMUM

Mission taxpayers can expect a municipal tax increase between 0.65 per cent and an “absolute maximum” of 2.5 per cent, according to Mayor Hawes. Currently, council has discussed a tax increase of about 0.65 per cent but not all of the costs have been factored in.

 

SILVERDALE DEVELOPMENT STALLS

A proposal to build a small commercial hub, including a fourth gas station in Silverdale, has been delayed until council reviews a hydrology report on the site. Most people who spoke against the project were concerned the area’s water supply will be affected.

 

 

 

 

GENSTAR PLANS CANCELLED

Genstar Development Company has ended its development plans in Mission, putting all of its Silverdale property on the market. More than 710 acres of Genstar-owned property is up for sale, along with 460 acres of land owned by Madison Development Corporation, listed as one package with Colliers International. The property totals more than 40 per cent of the southwest Mission lands slated for urban development in 2004. The entire area, about 3,400 acres, was to be developed in phases over 40 years and would have increased Mission’s population by 33,000.

 

APRIL

MURDERER ON THE LOOSE

The search continues for a convicted murderer who went missing from Mission Institution’s minimum-security facility. Staff members at the institution discovered that Shawn William Merrick was not accounted for. He is currently serving an indeterminate sentence for the second degree murder of Shelley Lynn DeVoe. Her body was found in Coquitlam in 2006.

 

$388,000 PAYOUT FOR CAO

The District of Mission paid almost $389,000 in severance and owed vacation to former chief administrative officer (CAO) Ken Bjorgaard. The numbers were released after The Record filed a freedom of information request with the district.

 

AMBULANCE WAIT TIMES

There have been at least two residents who have died while waiting for an ambulance in Mission, says Mayor Randy Hawes. According to Hawes, the most recent incident happened about two months ago. Because of confidentiality issues, he did not elaborate on the situation, but said the spouse of the victim questions whether her husband would be alive today if she brought him to the hospital herself rather than wait more than 30 minutes for an ambulance.

 

TRAILER PARK MURDER

There has been a huge outpouring of sympathy and support for the children and family of Mission’s Eleanor Anthonysz who died in a suspected arson fire. The tragic incident occurred at the Green Acres Mobile Home Park on Shook Road by Hatzic Lake. Residents woke up to see one of the mobile homes fully engulfed. Witnesses saw Anthonysz’s two children escape the blaze, their hands reportedly bound with plastic straps. They were both taken to hospital. Walter Joseph Ramsay, 42, was arrested April 18 and charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of arson.

 

MAY

 

BATTLE FOR HERITAGE PARK

Brian Antonson doesn’t understand why fundraising efforts for the new observatory at Fraser River Park have been stopped. The president of the Mission Heritage Association (MHA) isn’t sure if the district has the authority to halt volunteer efforts to finish construction of the facility. The decree came as part of a letter informing the association that the District of Mission would not be renewing its maintenance agreement for Fraser River Heritage Park. The association has been maintaining the park for the past 35 years. While the letter says the agreement will be allowed to lapse, Antonson said members of the MHA feel like “we’re being fired.”

 

SINKING HOMES SETTLED

Owners of two of the three “sinking homes” on Best Avenue can make plans to move out. The District of Mission and its insurance company have reached a settlement to buy the house at the southwest corner of Cedar Street and Best Avenue and another house two doors down from it. However, a third home between those two is not part of the deal.

 

SEARCHING THROUGH THE RUBBLE

Sammy barked excitedly at a pile of rubble in Katmandu. The way the three-year-old Lab bounced around told her handler, Mission Fire Chief Larry Watkinson, that there was somebody alive under the collapsed building. After a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, Watkinson and Mission Fire/Rescue Captain Norm MacLeod travelled to the country to help. They were part of a 24-member team of firefighters, doctors, nurses and search and rescue experts from around the Lower Mainland and Valley who went to help with rescue efforts.

 

JUNE

 

NEW TRUCK BYPASS EXAMINED

It could cost as much as $100 million to reroute trucks away from Downtown Mission via a new bypass. That’s Mayor Randy Hawes’ estimate, after the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure rejected the district’s idea of directing heavy rigs onto Murray Street, through the industrial area and Junction Mall, and back onto Lougheed Highway west of the town core. The ministry suggested instead it could do a study of the cost of a new bypass upon the request of the district.

 

INCREASE IN TOP EARNERS

The number of District of Mission staffers earning more than $75,000 rose by nearly 30 per cent last year to 57, up from 44 in 2013. The district released its 2014 statement of financial information report last week, which is required under provincial law to include a list of employees earning more that $75,000. For the three previous years, the number of employees earning more than $75,000 in remuneration stayed consistent at 44.