It’s was a busy, eventful 2018 in Mission. From ice storms to the election of a new mayor, several tragic deaths to a seniors’ housing announcement, there were few dull moments in the community.
Join the Mission Record as it takes a brief look back at some of the stories that made headlines in 2018.
An ice storm left a trail of damage throughout Mission. Downed power lines, fallen tree branches, power outages, broken water mains and falling ice made it a busy week for the district public works crews and emergency services. The storm was so bad that the district opened its emergency operations centre to help organize responses to the incoming calls for help.
Revitalizing Mission’s downtown core had been on many business owners’ wish list for years. And in January, it was inching closer to becoming a reality.
Construction was tentatively set to begin in two months (March 19) but there was still a lot of work to be done and contracts to award before anything happened.
Mission RCMP recovered 22 stolen vehicles and several stolen firearms after searching two separate local properties. Members of the Mission Prolific Offender Suppression Team (POST) executed a warrant at a rental property near the 9000 block of Clay Street in relation to some stolen firearms. Once on the property, police located 14 stolen vehicles in addition to recovering the stolen firearms. Many of the vehicles were Ford trucks which were in varying states of dismantlement. Two suspects were identified during the warrant execution.
A report revealed that if the Mission school district re-opened Stave Falls Elementary, 53 students from kindergarten to Grade 7 would likely attend. That was based on the results of a pre-registration held to determine the public’s interest in enrolling their children at the school.
The school will re-open in 2019.
Seventh Avenue was supposed to gain two designated bike lanes but lose parking on one side of the street. In a 5-2 vote, Mission council approved a plan to create separated bike lanes on the north and south side of Seventh Avenue between Stave Lake Street and Taulbut Street. In order to do this, parking on the north side of the street would be eliminated. Just west of Taulbut Street, the north bike lane would transition to behind the sidewalk. The existing parking on the north and south side of Seventh Avenue would remain in this location.
More than $300,000 worth of stolen property was recovered by the Mission RCMP’s Prolific Offender Suppression Team (POST). That number increased to over $500,000 in the first five weeks of 2018.
On Feb. 7, police responded to the sighting of a stolen semi-truck in the 30500 block of Silverhill Avenue in Mission. The POST team was able to locate the semi – stolen from Coquitlam – and an attached trailer, stolen from Maple Ridge. Further investigation led police to believe that the semi and trailer were used to transport a large excavator.
Incidents of property crime, auto theft, break-and-enters, violent crime, domestic violence and thefts from vehicles all went down in Mission in 2017.
That was according to statistics released by the Mission RCMP in a report to council. Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford made the presentation, telling council there “are lots of positives” in the report and crediting the Prolific Offender Suppression Team for the positive decline in property crimes. According to the statistics, comparing 2016 to 2017, auto theft was down 16 per cent, and other break-and-enters were down 33 per cent.
The district and council were flooded with calls and emails from business owners after a letter was sent out regarding proposed increases to the business licence fees in Mission.
The increases in some cases were more than 1,000 per cent higher than last year. The letter suggested changing the current yearly charge of $148 to a five-tier system ranging from $250 to $10,000 per year. A large number of businesses appeared to fall into the level-three price range, which was $1,490 per year.
A week later, it was announced that Mission business owners would soon be seeing a newly modified version of proposed business licence fees. Council met to debate the controversial increases that were made public earlier in the month. Then Mayor Randy Hawes said, although staff did exactly what council asked them to do, council should have put their “lens on it” first.
A 100 per cent increase in the minimum charge for taking trash to the Mission landfill died on the council table. The proposed increase, from $5 to $10 per load, was presented to council in March and received second and third reading. However, no one on council voted to give the proposal final approval, thus defeating the idea altogether.
The wait was over for downtown merchants and shoppers alike as construction crews began work on the downtown Mission improvement project.
Workers began by removing all the trees along three blocks of First Avenue. Then Phase 1 on the project (Horne Street and Welton Street) began with sidewalk demolition.
Mission council denied a request to build a new gas station complex in Stave Falls. Council voted against a request to push the project forward to a public hearing. As a result, the project stalled. The proposal would have seen the property at 29684 Dewdney Trunk Road in Stave Falls rezoned to “accommodate a rural mixed-use commercial development that includes a service station with one residential unit on the second floor.”
After almost 10 years of waiting, Rose-Marie and Mark Surakka finally got a public inquest into the death of their daughter. The Surakkas’ daughter, Lisa Dudley, was shot in her Mission home, along with Guthrie McKay, in September 2008. A decade later, the BC Coroners Service scheduled a public inquest into Dudley’s death, to begin June 11 in Burnaby.
While the Surakkas were glad the inquest was happening, they wanted to know why it took 10 years.
Charges were dismissed against former Mission political candidate Wyatt Scott, whose sexual assault trial took place.
The dismissal occurred in Abbotsford provincial court after closing arguments. The judge indicated in his ruling that it had not been proven that Scott had acted without the complainant’s consent or without believing there was consent. Scott had previously made headlines for an outlandish video during the 2015 federal election campaign. At his trial, the complainant – a former employee of Scott’s – testified that he made unwanted sexual advances to her that included rubbing his body against hers and making suggestive comments.
While district staff continued to keep a close eye on the water level by the Mission train bridge, it appeared that a major flood was not in Mission’s immediate future.
The Mission gauge had the Fraser River water level at 5.8 metres and projections were that it would peak at about 6.7 metres the following week.
“Based on the model projection of 6.7 metres at Mission, at the CPR bridge, we are not expecting any widespread flooding. We are expecting that areas outside the dike will be subjected to some water,” said Mike Younie, Mission’s deputy chief administrative officer.
A 23-month-old Mission girl died after she was found unresponsive in a backyard pool. The toddler went missing from a daycare on Hawthorne Avenue and was discovered a short time later in the underground pool at a neighbouring property,
The child was found under a solar blanket.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Steve Crawford said police received a 911 call from the daycare at about 4:40 p.m. reporting the toddler missing. She was last seen about 10 minutes before the call was made. Police responded immediately and began checking the daycare and neighbouring properties.
A man who was charged with killing his half-sister in 2013 entered a surprise guilty plea in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on what was supposed to be the first day of his trial. Mathew Pernosky, 33, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Rachel Pernosky, 18, of Mission. Two charges of indignity to a body were expected to be stayed at his sentencing hearing, which was scheduled for June 21. Second-degree murder comes with an automatic life sentence, but the sentencing hearing would determine Pernosky’s parole eligibility.
Mission’s Christine Jamieson ran her own marketing company, worked full-time for a construction company, founded a not-for-profit organization, helped create the High Five program at Simon Fraser University and volunteered for the Center for Epilepsy and Seizure Education in BC. She was also a contestant in the Miss BC Competition.
The public was to have its say on a newly proposed mixed-use development project in Mission. Council agreed to send the proposal – which envisions 131 residential apartments as well as a variety of commercial uses, including retail, restaurant, office space and a community gaming centre – to a public hearing.
With the 2018 municipal election just under four months away, the race for the mayor’s chair began. Both Mayor Randy Hawes and Coun. Pam Alexis announced their intentions to seek the top job at Mission’s council table.
Alexis, a councillor and a former school trustee, said she understood governance and the value of due process. Hawes had served on council for 13 years (12 as mayor) and served 12 years as an MLA representing Mission.