Teachers' strike: From left

Year In Review – Looking back at the year that was

We take a look at some of the stories that made headlines in the first half of 2014. To be continued next week.

January

In arts news, the Chemainus Theatre Festival was very excited to announce that it would be staging the epic musical Les Misérables for the first time. Other highlights announced for the upcoming season included a return of the popular Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story and Canadian premieres of Jeeves in Bloom and Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol.

The Town of Ladysmith presented Legacy Awards to Ladysmith Maritime Society volunteers Barrie McDonald and Doug Bell.

School District 68 announced that trustees would come to Ladysmith to hold a special meeting in early February to discuss reconfiguration options for Ladysmith schools.

After almost a year of behind-the-scenes work, Telehealth, which uses videoconferencing technology to connect patients to health care services, came to the Ladysmith Community Health Centre. Telehealth services are provided in cardiology, oncology, eating disorders, mental health and substance abuse, stroke treatment, geriatric psychiatry and more.

In late January, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder announced that she would not run again in the next federal election in 2015. Crowder, who has been a Member of Parliament for 10 years, said she had decided to step down when her term ends so that she can spend more time with her family.

February

Ladysmith council accepted a boundary extension proposal submitted by Couverdon Real Estate, the real estate division of TimberWest, triggering an alternative approval process to determine public opinion about the proposal. The proposal would see Ladysmith expand its municipal boundary to include a 700-acre parcel of land west of the Diamond, in exchange for Ladysmith gaining title to about 500 acres of TimberWest land adjacent to Stocking and Holland lakes. If everything went ahead, Couverdon would eventually begin a phased development that included 1,500 housing units, while the Town of Ladysmith would be able to protect the watershed.

The School District 68 board held a special meeting at Ladysmith Secondary School, where trustees voted to close École Davis Road Elementary at the end of June and move the French Immersion program to North Oyster Elementary School. The board also voted to send Grade 7 English-track students to Ladysmith Secondary School.

Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club member Faith Knelson continued to make waves at high-level meets. Swimming against many 13-year-olds, the 12-year-old swimmer won three gold medals at the provincials, and when she swam the 100m freestyle in 59.64 seconds, she became the first-ever female swimmer from Ladysmith to break one minute in that event.

After three years of fundraising, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCM-SAR) Station 29 in Ladysmith received its new rescue vessel. The unit is the second busiest on B.C. west coast behind Nanaimo and had been using the second-oldest vessel in the RCM-SAR fleet.

Twelve-year-old Sarah Rocque of Saltair represented our area at the BC Winter Games in Mission in moguls.

March

Early in the month, Couverdon Real Estate held an open house to share its plans for the boundary extension proposal it had submitted to the Town of Ladysmith and answer the public’s questions.

Chemainus photographer and artist Cim MacDonald added publisher to her resumé, as she published a photo book called Chemainus Gardens: Beauty of the Seasons, featuring 200 photos taken at Chemainus Gardens over the past six years.

Swimmer Faith Knelson made headlines again when the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club member broke the national record in the 50m breaststroke and broke the provincial records for her age group in the 100m breaststroke and the 50m butterfly at the Western Canadian Championships.

The Town of Ladysmith and the Stz’uminus First Nation signed a major agreement that would see the Town extend its water and sewage services out to the Stz’uminus reserve.

Almost a year of work went into upgrading the Peerless Road Recycling Centre in south Ladysmith, and the Cowichan Valley Regional District celebrated the grand opening of the new and improved recycling centre in March. The site had closed in April of the previous year to allow for major upgrades and remediation of the old incinerator ash.

April

Preliminary results for the alternative approval process for the Couverdon boundary extension proposal were revealed. The Town of Ladysmith received 1,601 valid Elector Response Forms stating electors were against the proposal, and since more than 10 per cent of eligible voters responded, the proposal could only proceed if the Town obtained the assent of electors through a referendum.

The Safeway in Coronation Mall underwent major changes, as it became a Save-On-Foods. Overwaitea Food Group, which owns Save-On-Foods, purchased the Ladysmith store from Sobeys Inc., along with 14 other stores in B.C. and Alberta. All of Safeway’s 52 employees were invited to keep their jobs in the changeover.

John Elliott was re-elected Chief of the Stz’uminus First Nation for a third straight term during council elections on April 3. He was joined on council by Peter Seymour, Kevin Frenchy, Roxanne Harris, Tim Harris, Anne Jack, Terry Sampson, Harvey Seymour, Herb Seymour and Shawna Seymour.

Emily Weeks, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Ladysmith Secondary School, was crowned Ladysmith Ambassador for 2014. Hana Reinhart and Yvonne Houssin were named Vice-Ambassadors.

The Catholic Women’s League of St. Mary’s Catholic Church celebrated its 80th anniversary during the month of April.

After learning about higher-than-expected turbidity levels in Holland Lake in 2013, Ladysmith council decided to look into water filtration and take steps toward a $165,000 pilot project to look at two or three options for filtration.

The British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) began work-to-rule action in late April.

Darian Harris, a 15-year-old from the Stz’uminus First Nation, was one of 20 aboriginal youth chosen to play for British Columbia at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Quebec.

May

Keith Turner, a resident of La Rosa Gardens in Ladysmith, celebrated his 107th birthday May 7.

In early May, a crowd of students walked out of the front doors of Ladysmith Secondary School, holding two large signs and chanting “Save Dave” to protest the transfer of principal Dave Street to Woodlands Secondary School in the fall.

In Chemainus, North Cowichan council gave first reading to a controversial proposal by Mayor Jon Lebefure to set aside 91 per cent of Echo Heights Forest as parkland and sell 17 lots. Council had previously given two readings toward saving just 80 per cent of Echo Heights as parkland and marketing 40-some housing lots, but the community called for more protection.

Ladysmith and District Credit Union (LDCU) celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2014. CEO John de Leeuw commissioned a book outlining and illustrating the credit union’s history, and the book — Ladysmith: Our Community. Your Credit Union. A History, written by Patrick A. Dunae — was unveiled during an open house in mid-May.

School District 68 hosted a Spuptitul — a Hul’qumi’num language competition — for the first time in mid-May. Ladysmith Secondary School was the site of this important day that celebrated local First Nations language and culture and brought together 100 students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Teachers in Ladysmith began picketing in late May, as British Columbia Teachers’ Federation began rotating strikes across the province. It was the first stage of job action, as the teachers’ union and B.C. government could not make any progress at the bargaining table.

June

Ladysmith’s Colin Pickell, who manages the 49th Café, began a crowd-funding campaign to complete his first children’s book, Who Will Tuck Me Into Bed?. The Kickstarter campaign ultimately surpassed its goal, and Pickell’s book, which features illustrations by Amanda Key, was released just before Christmas.

Graduation ceremonies were held throughout Ladysmith and Chemainus. At Ladysmith Secondary School, Chase Ennis and Kristy DeClark were chosen class valedictorians, while Arjan Manhas was chosen as the valedictorian for Chemainus Secondary School. June marked the end of an era with the graduation of the final Grade 7 class at École Davis Road Elementary, as the school closed at the end of the month.

The Chemainus Legion Twilight Shuffle 5K Run/Walk celebrated its 30th anniversary this June.

Ladysmith’s Jada Bohmer had a chance to share her personalized hand-stamped jewelry with some of television’s biggest stars at the 41st annual Daytime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Bohmer, who operates 3 Little Gems out of her home, was invited to include her pieces in the gift bags for the Daytime Emmys and to spend two days in the Gifting Lounge, where she could set up a table and show her jewelry to 250 people.

The Town of Ladysmith gives residents a chance to honour their helpful neighbours each year through the Good Neighbour Awards, and this year, the recipients were Lyle and Susan McChesney, John and Debbie Baker, Ken Sutherland, and Jack Judson.

In music news, Ladysmith singer-songwriter Lena Birtwistle released her first album as Emerald Specks in June.

After a two-month investigation involving several RCMP units, the Ladysmith RCMP arrested a number of people in town in connection with the sale of heroin, cocaine, speed and GHB. The preliminary investigative and planning stages of this joint operation between various RCMP units went back to the fall of 2013. Through this work, RCMP investigators purchased illicit drugs from six separate adult offenders living in Ladysmith.

It was an exciting month for local swimmer Pamela Little, as the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club member found out she had qualified for the North American Indigenous Games and would be competing in Regina, Sask., in late July.