Mayor Rob Hutchins walks the plank during the Ladysmith Maritime Festival in late May.

Year in Review – January to June 2011

The Chronicle looks back at some of the top stories of 2011.

January

January was off to a fresh start as a couple of dozen Ladysmith residents faced the year head-on with a plunge into Ladysmith Harbour.

Local firefighters started their tree-chipping efforts to raise money for their vintage parade fire truck.

Sadly, 2011 was off to a bad start as a massive fire at the Ladysmith Maritime Society dock contributed to the death of a visitor from Revelstoke. The death was a shock to the entire community and witnessed many crews working together to mitigate the damage.

There was another fire in Cedar after a truck smashed into the gas pumps at Chuckwagon Market.

Light Up was ready for a takedown in January as organizers packed in the cherished event for another year.

Mid-January brought a couple of blasts of the white stuff, cancelling school and sending kids scrambling for their toboggans.

Once the snow melted, Ivy Green residents were getting ready for the big move up to their new home on Lot 108.

In a shocking turn of events, it was announced that a 64-year-old Ladysmith man was arrested Dec. 15, 2010, with what RCMP estimated was one million pornographic images with children.

And to close out the month of January 2011, a strange looking ship drew some even stranger looks after it was discovered the boat was damaged, parked in the harbour and hauling uranium concentrate. Rough seas sent the ship seeking refuge after the containers were compromised. The ship was eventually taken to Vancouver.

February

February was off to another rough start as Chronicle scribe Erin DeCoste took to a wheelchair to try practice with a wheelchair rugby team.

Ladysmith council took a step forward in revamping its website by selecting design firm Graphically Speaking. The new website launched on Oct. 31.

Christy Clark was in town during her nomination campaign promising to put families first.

And in Duncan, the whole community held its breath and later gasped in horror as the disappearance of Tyeshia Jones later proved to be an unexplained murder.

The revelation that sled dogs had been culled in Whistler after the Olympics led a local dog rescuer to call for tougher laws against animal abuse.

In Chemainus, the Golden Brush Awards honoured the best in business. The business leadership award went to Chemainus Gardens RV Resort.

Ladysmith resident Cathleen Lundgren prepared to shave her head to honour a young singer, Megan McNeill, who died from cancer.

Couverdon, the real estate arm of TimberWest, approached council with the plan to bring about 270 hectares of its land into Ladysmith’s jurisdiction.

March

In March, students from all schools banded together and wore pink to say no to bullies.

A local couple questioned the town’s restricted breeds bylaw, challenging it is not fair to single out some breeds and not others. Ladysmith would later change its bylaw to allow dogs who pass a good neighbour program to be exempt from the restrictions.

Ladysmith council finally agreed to a set of development cost charges.

People were battening down the hatches mid-month as a wind storm wreaked havoc on the area, knocking out power and knocking over some fences.

To our waterfront, the Town received $86,686 towards an environmental assessment of the harbour.

Also in March, Ladysmith’s review of secondary suites got underway, a group of Stz’uminus students went to Hawaii to learn about language preservation, and groups began mobilizing to raise money for earthquake-ravaged Japan.

April

April started off with a laugh. Not just because of April Fool’s Day, but because April also brought the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association’s Outrageous Fools fundraiser.

Fun and games aside, the local political scene was up in the air, as candidates began throwing their hats in the ring for the local Member of Parliament. MP Jean Crowder would again win the Nanaimo-North Cowichan seat.

The town pulled together to raise more than $2,500 for the relief effort in Japan.

On a provincial scale, candidates vying to be B.C.’s NDP boss were in Ladysmith for a convention ahead of the selection process to replace Carol James.

News started circulating that more than $15 million would be needed to resurrect passenger train service. That money was later pledged by the provincial and federal governments.

The town also started its secondary suites consultation.

Clarence Knight was honoured for 75 years of service with the Eagles.

And it was not a bright picture, as the school district looked to cut $1.4 million from the budget.

Spirits were high at the Stz’uminus First Nation as the band released a recorded musical disc, helping to preserve its heritage.

There was a lot happening at the high school, as the local improv team was getting ready to compete at the national level — they would do quite well — and Ladysmith’s new abassadors were crowned. Ladysmith Ambassador Madeline Tremblay (Tim Hortons) and Vice-Ambassadors Geordana Clint (Kinsmen) and Amber Brown (LCU Insurance) were named in a ceremony at the community centre.

In Cedar, plans for a new cell tower started to draw static and action from residents.

And in Chemainus, the Festival of Murals Society was ready to unveil its newest carving in the Waterwheel Park parking lot.

May

May started with the naming of Ladysmith’s new turf field. The land formerly known as Lot 108 and the adjoining road were named Forrest Field and Jim Cram Dr. after two long-standing, dedicated community members.

Council continued to wrestle with its budget, asking staff to work the numbers so there would be no more than a five-per-cent increase, and to increase the water and sewer parcel tax by $30 and $60.

The Ladysmith Little Theatre was in the spotlight as it hosted the South Island Zone Festival.

Former Canuck Phil Maloney, who now lives in Yellowpoint, talked about his experience with the team as the Canucks were eating through the Western Conference and on the way to the final.

Paddlefest drew thousands of paddlers, especially for the opening of the new marine trail system.

The Resources Centre and Food Bank started moving into their new building on High Street, and Ladysmith was looking at a graduated program for “restricted breeds” in town.

Meanwhile, in Chemainus, firm HB Lanarc was hired to help map out revitalization in Mural Town.

Swashbucklers were down at the Ladysmith Maritime Society for the Maritime Festival, and on Sixth Avenue, they were catching air as  teens and Leadership Vancouver Island members helped open the revamped skatepark.

June

June was a month of celebration as the graduating classes of 2011 crossed the stage to get their diploma.

There was another kind of learning as First Nations students from the region released a book chronicling their elders’ stories.

The mood was not so jubilant on First Avenue, however, as a group of tourists and locals alike were jumped outside the Sportsmans Pub.

Ladysmith was again growing, as Artisan Properties received approval for a 12-building townhouse unit on Fourth Avenue.

There was good news for energy users as FortisBC opened its storage facility on Mt. Hayes worth $200 million. The tank can hold up to 15 per cent of the Island’s gas needs.

Ladysmith was alive with the sound of bagpipes as the Legion hosted the Highland Gathering. The three-day event welcomed pipe bands from all over the province for music and heavy games.

Debates over Echo Heights were heating up. Plans for the development would later be shelved until after the civic election.

Ladysmith council began acting on the results of its secondary suites forum as it started to phase in in-house suites and look at detached suites.

In one of the town’s biggest purchases of the  year, council looked at borrowing $1 million for a waterpipe linking the town’s water sources.

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