YEAR IN REVIEW February: School closes, harbour upgraded

Durieu Elementary School was closed, Mission's harbour got a $900,000 facelift, and a plane crash killed two people.

  • Dec. 28, 2011 8:00 p.m.

School board trustee Randy Cairns explains his rationale to close Durieu and leave Deroche operational.

Deroche Elementary School avoided closure in late February, but Durieu elementary was not as fortunate.

Angry parents stormed out of the meeting at Hatzic Secondary School moments after school trustees voted unanimously to shut the rural facility’s doors by the end of June, 2011.

Trustees voted 3-2 to keep Deroche open.

Declining enrolment put both schools on the chopping block late last year, but the risks to students, educationally and socially, were too great in Deroche, decided trustees.

The student population of Durieu will merge with Hatzic elementary in September.

Trustees used eight criteria — such as bus ride times, and maximizing fiscal resources — to aid in making their decisions.

Secretary treasurer Carrie McVeigh said closing Durieu would save approximately $298,000 annually, while shutting down Deroche would trim $288,000.

And while each trustee said money is not the bottom line in their decision, it couldn’t be ignored.

Deroche’s lower socio-economic demographic and its aboriginal student composition swayed trustees to keep the eastern Mission school open.

Harbour improvements

Mission harbour was getting a significant facelift in early February which the local authority believed would draw in more visitors and improve the area’s esthetics.

Work was underway along Harbour Avenue as the $900,000-plus project saw the dike level raised, new rip-rap, benches, lighting and ramps installed, and construction of a new Mission Harbour Authority (MHA) building housing an interpretive centre and historical photo displays.

The harbour is a community asset, said MHA president Alec Finnsson, and the improvements will attract business and tourists to the facility.

“One of the most exciting things is that [this project] creates a diversity for the harbour,” Finnsson stated. Because of the decline in commercial fishing, small craft harbours like Mission need to be more than just a place to moor a vessel.

And while the commercial fishing industry is a fraction of what it was in the 1960s, he said it’s still a “viable industry” in Mission, with 24 vessels anchored here during the season.

The cash for the work came from a three-way partnership between the District of Mission, the province and the federal government, said Mike Younie, Mission’s environmental manager.

Two-thirds of the $830,000 being spent on raising the dike are covered by the other governments, with an additional $100,000 being spent on “top of dike” works, such as ramps, and benches. Younie said Mission’s share was $230,000, taken from general reserves. Parking was being increased by five spots.

Plane crash kills two

Two planes collided above Mission in mid-February, killings Donn Hubble, 60, and his passenger, Patrick Lobsinger, 70, of Surrey.

The planes were practising formation flying and collided at 1,500 feet and were stuck together as they fell. The planes disconnected at about 500 feet and the one pilot made an emergency landing into a farmer’s field, while the other aircraft crashed into Nicomen slough.

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