Ken Lavigne: Chemainus tenor

Ken Lavigne: Chemainus tenor

Looking in the rearview mirror

The Chronicle looks back at some of the stories that made headlines in the second half of 2014.

July

Ladysmith triathlete Courtney Chanin qualified for the triathlon world championships next year in Chicago. The 16-year-old did so after finishing as the top female in the Shawnigan Lake Triathlon High School Sprint.

In music news, Ladysmith Secondary School graduates Evan Miller and Aleisha Kalina were named to the Top 12 in the province-wide Peak Performance Project radio contest as the duo The Wild Romantics.

Ladysmith residents were reminded to be aware of animals while using local trails after multiple cougar sightings were reported.

After her restaurant, the Cassidy Country Kitchen, was destroyed in a late-May fire caused by a faulty cappuccino machine, Kristina Stauffer moved forward quickly in the hopes of rebuilding. In July, she opened a mobile kitchen on the site, the Cassidy Country Kitchen Wagon.

Lifelong friends Mary Nicholls and Ava Wilson, both members of the Mid-Isle Soccer Club, played for the Vancouver Island-Central Coast U12 Girls’ soccer team at the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo.

The Town of Ladysmith held its final public hearing ahead of proposed changes to the Zoning Bylaw, and the issue of coach houses dominated the discussion. Later in the month, council gave the bylaw second and third reading and referred the Zoning Bylaw to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, bringing the updated bylaw a step closer to completion.

August

Nita Grant was chosen as the Ladysmith Celebrations Society’s Citizen of the Year for 2014 during Ladysmith Days. Grant has been a member of the Ladysmith Rotary Club for more than 40 years, was a merchant leader in the revitalization of the downtown area in the 1980s and has volunteered on numerous committees, commissions and boards over the years. As well, she instigated the Coats for Kids program and started the 50 Plus Computer Club.

Ladysmith’s well-used Holland Creek Trail was closed after a dog chased away a cougar that was exhibiting aggressive behaviour, coming up the slope and right at two people who were walking their dog. The trail was closed for about a week.

North Cowichan Coun. John Koury was the first hopeful to announce he would be seeking the mayor’s chair in the Nov. 15 municipal election. Later in the month, computer engineer Damir Wallener put his name forward, while current mayor Jon Lefebure said he was still on the fence about running in the election.

Pamela Little, who trains with the Ladysmith-Chemainus Orcas Swim Club, won six medals at the North American Indigenous Games in Saskatchewan. She returned from the Games with one gold medal and five silver medals.

Chronicle cartoonist Rob Kernachan of Saltair published his 2,000th cartoon on Aug. 19.

The popular Yellow Point Lodge celebrated its 75th anniversary this year.

As the beginning of  another school year neared, there was still no news of a resolution to the dispute between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation and B.C. public school employees, leaving start dates uncertain. In School District 68, the school district board office had been behind picket line since July 20, and as a result, maintenance work on district schools had not been completed, as staff did not wish to cross the picket lines.

September

North Cowichan council approved the construction of a skatepark at the old elementary school site. The skatepark has been debated since about 1997.

The Ladysmith Resources Centre Association introduced a new festival in mid-September. With government cutbacks, the association was looking at doing more of its own fundraising, and it came up with the idea for the first annual Berry Mania Festival at Transfer Beach, featuring an Amazing Race scavenger hunt, a bike rodeo hosted by the Ladysmith RCMP, entertainment and more.

Four members of Canada’s Olympic women’s soccer team came to Ladysmith. Karina LeBlanc, Diana Matheson, Rhian Wilkinson and Melissa Tancredi, who won bronze medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics, led training sessions with Mid-Isle Soccer Club players at Forrest Field and took part in a leadership luncheon.

The Ladysmith Farmers’ Market, overseen by the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, wound down its first full year of operation at Transfer Beach and saw the number of vendors more than double, with some weeks seeing more than 50 booths set up.

Students finally returned to class Sept. 23 after B.C. Teachers’ Federation members voted 86 per cent in favour of a six-year agreement reached with the help of mediator Vince Ready. At Ladysmith Secondary School, there was a major influx of students, with enrolment jumping from 580 last year to 840 with the arrival of Grade 7 English students and about 200 students from Cedar Secondary School, which had closed at the end of June.

The Town of Ladysmith held a public meeting to unveil the results of a water study. The study found that Ladysmith is unlikely to reach a crisis with its water supply any time soon, but a water crisis will be an annual occurrence if something isn’t done to increase capacity by 2054. The study was requested after the Couverdon boundary extension proposal was defeated through the alternative approval process.

October

Ladysmith council rejected the boundary extension proposal from Couverdon Real Estate during a special council meeting Oct. 1, with the mayor and four councillors voting against the proposal and two voted to support it.

The Canadian Cancer Society Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock rolled through Ladysmith for the 16th year, and the community raised an amazing $45,000 for childhood cancer research and to send children and teens dealing with cancer and their families to Camp Goodtimes.

As the deadline to file nomination papers for the Nov. 15 municipal election came and went, we learned that there would be a new mayor in Ladysmith for the first time in 21 years. Gordon Horth, Marsh Stevens and Aaron Stone put their names forward as candidates for mayor, while seven-term mayor Rob Hutchins put his name forward as a candidate for one of six council seats, along with incumbents Steve Arnett, Jill Dashwood, Bill Drsydale and Duck Paterson and newcomers Robert Cross, Cal “Butch” Fradin, Joe Friesenhan, Nita Grant (who later withdrew), Carol Henderson, Cathleen McMahon and Thea Melvin.

November

Ladysmith council was asked to do something to turn the lights on at Brown Drive Park, as neighbours raised concerns about vandalism and safety as groups of youth gathered at the park after dark.

Aaron Stone, who grew up in Ladysmith and is the president and general manager of Uforik Computers Inc. in downtown Ladysmith, was elected mayor in the Nov. 15 municipal election. Voters elected incumbents Steve Arnett, Duck Paterson and Rob Hutchins (who had been the town’s mayor for seven terms) to council, along with newcomers Cal “Butch” Fradin, Carol Henderson and Joe Friesenhan. Hutchins was also elected to the School District 79 school board.

The election brought a wave of change to the School District 68 school board, as only two trustees returned to the nine-member board. Stephanie Higginson, Scott Kimler, Jeff Solomon, Steve Rae, Natasha Bob, Tania Brzovic and Noah Routley were elected trustees, along with incumbents Jamie Brennan and Bill Robinson.

In North Cowichan, Mayor Jon Lefebure retained his position, while voters elected newcomers Rob Douglas, Tom Walker (a former mayor), Maeve Maguire and Joyce Benhsen to council, along with incumbents Al Siebring and Kate Marsh.

Mel Dorey was re-elected as director for Cowichan Valley Regional District Electoral Area G (Saltair/Gulf Islands). Mary Marcotte had been acclaimed as director of Area H (North Oyster/Diamond) earlier in the fall.

Chemainus tenor Ken Lavigne released a new Christmas CD and also revealed that he is raising money to pursue his dream of singing on stage at the Sydney Opera House in 2015.

December

Organizers estimated that about 15,000 people came to Ladysmith Nov. 27 to celebrate Light Up and the beginning of the Festival of Lights. This year’s parade was the biggest one yet, with 76 entries, many of which had multiple vehicles.

Ladysmith Secondary School’s senior girls’ volleyball team returned from the provincial championships with a silver medal. The team had gone into the provincials ranked fourth in B.C. after winning the Islands and the North Islands. At the provincial championship, Kelsey Hutt and Shelby Dorman-Banks were named to the First All-Star team, and Marika Grubac was named to the Second All-Star team.

About 70 people were out of work in early December, as operations at Western Forest Products’ Ladysmith Sawmill on Ludlow Road were put temporarily on hold. The temporary curtailment of operations started Dec. 5 and was caused by a lower demand for the mill’s lumber in China.

Members of the Chemainus Health Care Auxiliary returned from the National Philanthropy Day event in Victoria with the Outstanding Philanthropic Service Club Award.

The Cinnamon Bun Fun Run in Ladysmith raised a record amount of food this year. Four hundred and 65 runners and walkers took part in the 10th annual run/walk and raised 6,340 pounds of food and $2,849 for the Ladysmith Food Bank.

Nanaimo RCMP seized guns, drugs and stolen property from a home in the Yellow Point area and also found a pipe bomb after investigating this home and one in Nanaimo for several months.

The transformation of Waterwheel Square in Chemainus was completed just before Christmas. Construction on the Waterwheel parking lot had begun in August, and the work included a total redesign of the parking lot and the creation of a vibrant, multi-use town square.

About a month after being voted in, the new School District 68 board voted to have Grade 7 students in Ladysmith attend Ladysmith Intermediate School in September 2015 instead of Ladysmith Secondary School.

The trustees also voted to place a 30-day hold on the construction and awarding of contracts at Cedar Elementary School to review the long-term impacts of this work on the district.