2015: A Year in Review – July to December

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

  • Jan. 2, 2016 5:00 a.m.

JULY

 

WATER USE RISES 27%

Hot temperatures, a lack of precipitation and a 27 per cent increase in water use in June has led to a complete ban on lawn watering. The District of Mission and the City of Abbotsford moved to stage three of the water shortage response plan. Along with the ban, stage three measures dictate that no new lawn permits will be issued and non-recirculating fountains will be prohibited.

 

STAVE WEST A FIRE RISK

Access to the west shores of Stave Lake is going to be limited, if not banned outright, due to extreme fire risks. The District of Mission has decided to close access to the forestry road that leads up to Stave West – a 5,000-hectare area situated in northern Mission around the west side of Stave Lake.

 

CANINE CONTROL CONCERNS

As Mission mulls whether to move its animal control services over to Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) control, hundreds of people signed a petition against the change. With its current animal control contract up in 2016, the district has decided to consider implementing the FVRD’s program, which in addition to pound services, includes licensing and bylaw enforcement, such as barking complaints, off-leash infractions and aggressive dog investigations.

 

RESTRICTIONS TO CONTINUE

Despite some heavy rainfall over the weekend, Mission and Abbotsford residents are still being asked to conserve water. Stage three restrictions remain in place, meaning homeowners may not use  a sprinkler to water their lawns. However, watering by hand is still permitted.

 

AUGUST

 

ALL HANDS NEEDED TO FIGHT FIRE

Every resource of the Mission fire department was called out to a fast-moving brush fire which could have had catastrophic effects in a rural area along Ferndale Avenue. Fire Chief Larry Watkinson said all 14 fire trucks and 80 firefighters with the department were called out to the blaze. At the time, it was about half a hectare in size. The fire occurred on a steep hill in a heavily wooded area near Ferndale and Draper, in an area of large homes. Residents of six homes were evacuated and their houses were in real danger of being destroyed, Watkinson said.

 

MISSION TO BECOME A CITY?

Should Mission brand itself as a city? The idea of changing the District of Mission’s classification was briefly debated in January, but quickly set aside. Now, the idea has resurfaced. District staff presented a report to council recommending moving forward with the reclassification, noting the city moniker could increase the ability to attract and retain business more effectively than the district classification and should reduce confusion between the District of Mission and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

 

OBSERVATORY SCRAPPED

There will not be an observatory in Fraser River Heritage Park. The project, which is already under construction, will be re-purposed, according to a press release issued by the District of Mission. The release lists a variety of reasons that the project will be abandoned, including building code violations, safety concerns and an unrealistic business plan. The district claimed the construction of the observatory proceeded without the required drawings and permits in place and professional consultants demonstrated that the Mission Heritage Association’s business plan “is inadequately developed.”

 

SEPTEMBER

 

SCHOOL CHANGES

The biggest change in Mission schools in years officially got underway when the reconfigured middle and secondary schools welcome students back. Mission Secondary will become the district’s lone senior secondary school, with Heritage Park and Hatzic becoming middle schools. MSS will be home to about 1,250 Grade 10 to 12 students. As middle schools, Heritage Park will have 725 Grade 7 to 9 students, and Hatzic 800. Elementary schools will now be responsible for educating kindergarten to Grade 6 students.

 

DEWDNEY BRIDGE SAGGING

The Dewdney Slough Bridge was closed after the bridge deck began to sag. Traffic was being detoured away. There was no timeline on when the damage would be repaired. A Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson said crews were continuing to assess the bridge and no traffic would be permitted to cross. Ministry staff and contractors set up a detour to Highway 1.

 

OCTOBER

 

SENIORS’ CENTRE EXPLORED

Mission seniors are one small step closer to having a new facility. Council voted in favor of conducting a feasibility study on building seniors’ or affordable housing as part of a proposed new seniors’ centre. The seniors’ centre/housing project would be located on the Mission Leisure Centre grounds and also include 7682 Grand St., a property recently purchased by the district. The Mission Association for Seniors Housing (MASH) has been contacted and indicated an interest in the overall project.

 

 

SIDHU ELECTED IN TIGHT RACE

Mission hopes to benefit from having its newly elected Member of Parliament as part of the new Liberal government. Liberal Jati Sidhu was elected as MP for the newly created Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon riding in the Oct. 19th federal election. His victory was one of the last ones declared in Canada, with the race called shortly after 1 a.m., after a nail-biter evening where Sidhu and Conservative Brad Vis engaged in a close race.

 

FOOD BANK BUILDING OPENS

After years of planning, a stand-alone facility for the long-established St. Joseph’s Food Bank officially opened. For Ron Leger, the volunteer who has championed the project, this has been a long time coming. However, he feels the end product is even better than he could have expected, and says it will serve the community well for many years to come.

 

NOVEMBER

 

1.68% TAX INCREASE

A municipal tax hike of less than two per cent has been proposed for Mission in 2016. Kerri Onen, deputy treasurer collector for the district, revealed that council is considering a 1.68 per cent municipal tax increase, which equals $488,967 in new revenue, along with a one per cent increase in water user rates and four per cent increase in sewer user rates.

 

TRAFFIC FLOW ISSUES

A plan to improve traffic flow at Cedar Street and Seventh Avenue isn’t sitting well with some residents, especially those who will see their land expropriated by the district. The plan calls for the widening of Cedar Street, at the Seventh Avenue intersection, to allow for five lanes, two in each direction and one left turn lane, as well as other improvements to help driver visibility. The project, which is budgeted at $3.6 million, will require the district to acquire both privately owned land and land owned by BC Hydro.

 

DECEMBER

 

POT DISPENSARY BUSTED

Bob Woolsey doesn’t understand why Mission RCMP have targeted his medical marijuana facility in Deroche. The 64-year-old and his 57-year-old wife Dawn Parker were taken into custody by the RCMP on Nov.25 after police raided their home, trailer and several other structures. Woolsey said he and his wife are the volunteer managers of the BC Pain Society’s Compassion Club in Deroche. The couple opened the club on Feb.1 and have about 400 clients, all of whom have medical marijuana prescriptions.

 

RALLY FOR MURDER VICTIM

Just hours after the man accused of killing Eleanor (Ele) Anthonysz and of the attempted murder of her two children appeared in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack, family members of the slain woman and other activists gathered outside the courthouse to call for an end to family violence. Walter Joseph Ramsay is accused of killing Anthonysz, his ex-girlfriend, and trying to kill her 11-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son by setting their Hatzic-area mobile home on fire in April. Ramsay also faces one count of arson.

 

BATTLING ADDICTION

Mission wants to take a leadership role in the fight against addiction, and the first battleground is education. The District of Mission will host a forum on the treatment of addictions in the new year, which will include all models of treatment, including harm reduction, needle exchange, abstinence and more. The all-day event is scheduled for Feb. 4 at the Clarke Theatre.

 

REPTILE GUY PONDERS FUTURE

The Reptile Guy, an animal rescue and education centre which opened in Mission earlier this year, may close its doors after a series of SPCA inspections.