With the year 2017 fast approaching, the Mission Record is looking back at some of the stories that grabbed the headlines in 2016:
An ongoing dispute between Mission’s The Reptile Guy’s Rescue and Education Centre and the BCSPCA had centre owner Mike Hopcraft contemplating closing his doors for good.
Hopcraft said on Facebook that he may be “giving up.” In his message, he discussed his ongoing dispute with the BCSPCA, which seized 14 reptiles and 44 rats from his downtown Mission facility at the beginning of December.
Nineteen businesses in Mission’s downtown core had been broken into, or had been targeted by break-in attempts, in a four-month span.
That was just under one-fifth of the businesses in the area. At the time, Jamie Hayes, executive director of the Mission Downtown Business Association, said the break-ins were becoming an epidemic, adding that, in most cases, no “big ticket items” had been stolen; just “whatever was lying around.”
An armed robber walked into Mike’s Market, a community grocery store located in Hatzic Bench (8160 Manson St.), and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash. The cashier managed to grab a photo of the robber on her cellphone.
The Mission branch of the Canadian Cancer Society fell victim to robbers. Late at night, thieves smashed the front door of Mission Barbers on Logan Avenue. After obtaining a small amount of cash from the barbershop, the intruders then smashed through the wall into the adjacent empty store and punched a hole into that wall to get inside the Cancer Society office.
The intruders managed to steal gift cards, donated prizes and some cash. The break-in cost the charity about $3,500.
Owners of unauthorized secondary suites were expecting to receive a bill in the mail from the District of Mission.
Council voted to crack down on homeowners who had not registered their suites. This year, approximately 850 secondary suites were registered with the district. Owners pay double the annual fee for water, sewer and garbage pickup. On average, that equates to an extra $1,174 per suite.
A series of break-ins continued to plague Mission’s downtown core as six businesses were reportedly hit in 10 days.
The crime spree had some business owners scrambling to improve their security systems.
A Mission man was charged with second-degree murder in connection with the 2012 death of 75-year-old Port Alberni resident Mervin Hankins.
The Port Alberni RCMP confirmed that police officers arrested 46-year-old Mission resident Channon Coulter. According to RCMP Insp. Mac Richards, Coulter – previously a resident of Port Alberni – was arrested without incident. On Jan. 13, 2012, Hankins was found dead in his Fourth Avenue home, by a relative.
The number of drug overdoses in Mission had risen rapidly by this time. New fire chief Dale Unrau told council that firefighters had responded to at least 18 overdoses so far in 2016. That was more than half of the 25 overdose calls in all of 2015, in just the first two months of the year.
A local man was charged with three robberies that included grabbing a purse from a senior woman with a cane in Abbotsford and holding up a small grocery store in Mission. Tyson Zackary Fust, 22, of Mission was charged with two counts of robbery, using an imitation firearm and disguising his face with intent to commit an offence in relation to those two offences.
Mission RCMP responded to 17,098 files in 2015, an increase of about 2,000 from the previous year. According to Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jager, 14,000 to 15,000 files is the norm for the district.
“So there was a big spike last year, bringing us up to 17,000 and we’re on track this year to hit 17,000 as well,” he said.
However, less than half of those files could result in chargeable offences.
The top call for service in Mission in 2015 was theft. There were 1,415 files; 75 per cent of those involved theft from vehicles.
For the second time in a week, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was called to Mission for a suspicious death, after human remains were discovered.
Mission RCMP were called to Florence Lake Service Road after a person driving in the area located the remains. IHIT was called and took control of the investigation.
IHIT had already been investigating another death in the area after a 53-year-old woman was found dead in her home almost two weeks after being attacked in a Mission park.
A Deroche man was facing a life sentence with no possibility of parole for 20 years after admitting to murdering Eleanor Anthonysz and attempting to kill two children in a Mission mobile home.
Anthonysz, 33, died in April 2015 after her Hatzic-area home was set ablaze in the middle of the night. Two children also sustained injuries in the blaze. Walter Ramsay, 43, was arrested soon after the fire and charged with Anthonysz’s killing, along with the attempted murder of a boy and a girl, whose identities were protected by a publication ban. A judge sentenced Ramsay to life in prison, no eligibility for parole for 20 years and two 18-year sentences, to be served concurrently, for the attempted murder of the boy and girl.
A pair of scams directed at seniors were reported in the Mission area. One involved a young woman asking for help for her sick baby, while the other involved the bogus sale of freshly caught fish.
The previous week, a Mission senior answered a knock on her door early in the morning and discovered a young, upset-looking woman standing on the doorstep.
Once the stranger was inside, she made several phone calls, her story changed, and she asked the senior to lend her some money.
There were also several reports of a man who had been approaching elderly Mission residents in the street and defrauding them of cash with a fake offer to sell them fish.
Standing at the 18-kilometre mark of Florence Lake Forest Service Road, Mission RCMP Insp. Ted De Jager reached down and picked up his choice of spent casings and shotgun shells lying among the garbage.
Dangerous shooting was just one of many issues the Mission RCMP was trying to get under control in Stave West – a 5,000-hectare area situated in northern Mission around the west side of Stave Lake – and other rural areas in the district.
Impaired driving, unlicensed vehicles, illegal campfires, large drunken parties, stolen cars and other objectionable acts had plagued the area, but steps were being taken to bring the law back to what some had dubbed “the Wild West.”
Angus Wilson was named the new superintendent of schools for Mission District #75. Wilson, who grew up in Vancouver, moved to Haida Gwaii on the north coast of B.C. He remained there for 16 years, serving as a teacher at all grade levels, an elementary school vice-principal and a secondary school principal.
For the previous eight years, he has been the superintendent at Haida Gwaii.
The initial thing he planned to tackle in Mission was communication.
A group of dirt bikers left their mark on the Red Mountain biking/hiking trails. Reports came into the district regarding approximately 20 dirt bike riders, riding in a group around Red Mountain on the recreational trails created for hikers and mountain bikers.
Dirt bikes and quads are not permitted on the trails. The riders caused quite a bit of damage, especially after the heavy rains.
Mission council voted to have the observatory building demolished. The structure, located in Fraser River Heritage Park, was to be torn down in the coming weeks after Mission council narrowly approved the motion to remove it. Council voted 4-3 in favour of immediately tearing down the structure, rather than leaving the “shell” of the building upright.
According to staff reports, it could cost up to $400,000 to complete the construction and $25,000 to tear it down.
While all seven council members seemed to agree that an observatory was never going to be completed, Couns. Pam Alexis and Danny Plecas suggested waiting for a new parks master plan to be created, in 2017, before deciding the structure’s fate.
A 72-year-old Mission man who pleaded guilty to an incident in which his wife was shot in June 2014 was sentenced and released.
Bruce Croft was sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack to three years plus a day for intentionally discharging a firearm while being reckless to the life or safety of another person.
Former Mission Mayor Ted Adlem didn’t think the decision to take down the observatory building in Fraser River Heritage Park had much to do with financial or safety concerns.
Adlem, who now lives in Salmon Arm, said the real struggle was a dispute between current Mayor Randy Hawes and the Mission Heritage Association (MHA).