2018 A Year In Review: Part Two – July to December

The Mission Record looks back on the stories that made headlines in Mission last year

JULY

MISSION WOMAN WINS MISS BC TITLE

Christine Jamieson was the first Mission contestant to ever win the title of Miss BC. Before a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, Jamieson’s name was announced and a tiara was placed on her head. Less than 12 hours later, she was back at her job with a local construction company.

Jamieson did not expect to win, and hearing her name called out was a surprise.

“Honestly, I was in shock, but excited, and excited for the year to come.”

REPTILE GUY IS READY TO FIGHT

Mike Hopcraft retained a lawyer and prepared to defend himself against recent charges of animal cruelty. Hopcraft, known locally as the Reptile Guy, was the subject of a BC SPCA investigation that resulted in charges earlier this month. A press release issued by the agency said Crown counsel had approved two counts of animal cruelty and one count of violating the Veterinarians Act against Hopcraft. In response, Hopcraft’s lawyer, Jason Tarnow, issued his own release, saying the charges were filed after the BC SPCA viewed “a video posted on Mr. Hopcraft’s Wild Education Facebook page showing him relieving a blood python of a bowel obstruction.”

The release also stated that Hopcraft had considerable knowledge and more than 18 years’ experience in handling and caring for exotic animals and had dedicated the general public on television, in schools, and at community events.

AUGUST

NO SWIMMING PERMITTED

Fraser Health closed Hatzic Lake to swimmers after being notified about several concerning incidents. Reports of algae blooms, discoloured water, and dead fish were forwarded to Fraser Health by the Fraser Valley Regional District.

The FVRD website also stated, “Some residents have also reported symptoms of nausea, stomach cramps, itchy skin, and eye irritations after swimming and participating in other recreational water activities on the lake.”

Swimming was not allowed at Hatzic Lake until further notice.

TWO STURGEON FOUND DEAD ON HATZIC LAKE

Members of a website and Facebook page dedicated to the improvement of Hatzic Lake were particularly concerned after two sturgeon were found floating dead in the lake.

Photos of the sturgeon were posted online on two occasions, just days after Fraser Health announced it had closed the lake to swimmers after being notified about several concerning incidents.

SENIORS’ CENTRE TAKES A SMALL STEP FORWARD

A proposed seniors’ housing project, including a seniors’ community centre, took another small step forward.

Council granted third reading to a rezoning request for a project that envisioned 74 units of affordable rental housing that was targeted towards seniors.

The proposed seniors’ community centre (7682 Grand St.) would be located on the main floor, with 74 apartment units in the five floors above.

SEPTEMBER

MORE WASTE DIVERSION NEEDED

Mission residents were going to be asked to separate even more of their waste. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, Recycle BC wants all participating communities – including Mission – to separate “other flexible packaging” (chip bags and candy wrappers which, to date, have not been recyclable) from their waste.

Much like the recent change for stretch film plastic, the flexible packaging will not be allowed in blue bags and will not be collected at the curb. Instead, residents were told that it needs to be dropped off at local recycling depots.

FOUR VIE FOR MAYOR’S CHAIR

With only a few hours left until the deadline to file nomination papers passed – potential candidates had until 4 p.m. on Sept. 14 to file – Mission’s municipal election was starting to heat up.

At that point, there were four candidates running for mayor, 16 candidates seeking one of six councillor seats, and four candidates for school trustee.

Those numbers were expected to increase by the end of the deadline.

Randy Hawes (incumbent) was attempting to retain his seat as mayor against current councillor Pam Alexis and challengers Iain Gilfillan and Wyatt Scott.

SECOND RALLY HELD

Family and friends of murder victim Eye Anthonysz held a second protest on Saturday. Sept. 22.

The group wanted Walter Ramsay – the man convicted of murdering Anthonysz and trying to murder two children – sent back to a maximum-security facility.

Anthonysz, 33, was murdered on April 17, 2015 after her Hatzic-area home was set ablaze in the middle of the night. Two children also sustained injuries in the blaze. Ramsay pleaded guilty to killing Anthonysz in April 2016 and was handed a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 20 years.

OCTOBER

MAN SHOT TO DEATH

A shooting that left one man dead in Mission was a “targeted hit,” according to investigators. Cpl. Frank Jang, spokesperson for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), spoke at a press conference in Mission and asked for the public’s help with any information about the killing of 19-year-old Varinderpal Gill of Abbotsford. Gill was shot to death in a vehicle in the crowded parking lot of the Junction Mall in Mission. A witness at the scene said he heard about four loud shots and saw a vehicle drive away quickly, before circling back to the scene. A gun was seen sticking out of the window and three more shots rang out, the witness said.

FIRE DESTROYS HISTORIC SILVERHILL HALL

The community of Silverhill had a “sad cloud” hanging over it. The historic, 99-year-old Silverhill Hall was destroyed by fire on Oct. 11.

Firefighters were called to the hall, located at 31016 Silverhill Ave. in Mission, just before midnight that day.

The structure was engulfed in flames and was destroyed.

Mission Fire Chief Dale Unrau said the cause of the fire was undetermined, but was “not at all suspicious.”

He said the blaze was believed to have started in the kitchen. Troy Anderson, publicist and a director of the Silverhill Hall Association, said the fire was devastating for the community.

MEET MISSION’S MAYOR

With the election now behind her, newly elected Mission Mayor Pam Alexis could look ahead to the work and planning that awaited. But who is Pam Alexis, and what kind of mayor will she be?

“I’m a community builder and have been since I moved here,” she told the Mission Record.

Alexis has lived in the community for more than 22 years and became involved almost immediately. Her first step into politics was when she ran and won a seat on the Mission school board in 2005.

NOVEMBER

PUPPIES SAVED FROM CLIFF

A pair of puppies were safe and sound, thanks to Mission Search and Rescue. The two dogs were rescued from a cliff in the Hatzic Bluff area not too far from Stave Lake Road.

The ordeal began a few days before that, after residents reported hearing the sound of dogs howling and whining. The steep terrain was not easy to navigate so it was unknown how many dogs, or what kinds, were trapped. Then, Mission Search and Rescue stepped in.

$7.4 MILLION FOR SENIORS’ HOUSING

The Mission Association for Seniors Housing (MASH)was granted $7.4 million in provincial funding to help create 74 new seniors’ housing sites in the community. The announcement was made as part of the provincial government’s nearly half-billion-dollar investment in 72 new affordable housing projects across the province.

About 4,900 units will be built in 42 communities across B.C as part of the province’s 10-year Community Housing Fund.

ABANDONED NEWBORN DISCOVERED

A newborn baby girl was discovered abandoned in Mission. RCMP Insp. Annette Fellner confirmed that the baby was discovered in the 3300 block of Prentis Avenue, which is close to the Heritage Park Childcare Centre.

The area – including the daycare centre – was surrounded by police tape.

“A 21-year-old Mission woman was arrested and later released in relation to the investigation. No charges have been laid at this time,” Fellner said three days after the discovery.

The baby passed away in hospital a few days later.

DECEMBER

CASINO EXPANSION, MOVE APPROVED

Mission’s Chances Casino was another step closer to its goal to move and expand. After a public information session, Mission council voted 6-1 in favor of approving Gateway Casinos and Entertainment Ltd.’s proposal to relocate Chances Mission from 7178 Horne St. (beside Value Village) to 31831 Lougheed Hwy. (across from the Walmart) and to expand the gaming opportunities. Only Con. Danny Please voted against the proposal.

THE DISASTER BEFORE CHRISTMAS

There wasn’t a lot of holiday cheer surrounding the Mission Hospice Society.

What started as a backed-up shower and toilet turned into a $20,000 nightmare for the local non-profit. And executive director Angel Elias wasn’t sure what to do.

A sewer backup and a series of pipe leaks forced the office to shut down as repair crews got working on the building. But what lies ahead is uncertain.

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