2015: A year in review in Abbotsford

The following is a list of news highlights in the community in 2015

  • Jan. 1, 2016 6:00 a.m.
The Yale Lions boys basketball team wins the B.C. 4A championships in March.

The Yale Lions boys basketball team wins the B.C. 4A championships in March.

JANUARY

Police deal with 18 accidents in a 24-hour period after the first winter storm of the season hits the area on the first weekend of the year. About half of the crashes occur on Highway 1 and almost all are single-vehicle.

Abbotsford’s Jake Virtanen, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, is on Canada’s world junior hockey team when they win the gold medal in a dramatic 5-4 victory over Russia at Air Canada Centre in Toronto. It’s the nation’s first world gold since 2009.

The Target retail chain announces that its Abbotsford store on Sumas Way will be one of 133 locations across Canada to close, resulting in 17,600 across the nation losing their jobs. Also announcing its closure is the Towne Cinema movie theatre after 40 years in the community.

FEBRUARY

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner announces it is looking into the conduct of 17 Abbotsford Police officers over allegations of corrupt practice, deceit and neglect of duty. Many of the accusations relate to documents used to obtain search warrants. Police Chief Bob Rich holds a press conference in response to the claims.

Police reveal the name of a cyclist killed in a hit-and-run collision on Mt. Lehman Road on Jan. 29. Ronald James Scott, 61, was pronounced dead at the scene, and police say that debris found at the scene belongs to a Ford F-150 pickup truck from the years 2012 to 2014.

Trevor Johnson, 34, becomes Abbotsford’s first murder victim of the year after he is stabbed during an altercation at the Petro-Canada gas station at Townline and Maclure roads. Thavone Junior Carlson, 20, is charged with second-degree murder.

(Photo below by Vikki Hopes: Police investigate the scene of a fatal stabbing at a gas station at Townline and Maclure roads.)

MARCH

A patient with mental health issues attacks and injures a nurse in the emergency ward at Abbotsford Regional Hospital. The incident results in the B.C. Nurses’ Union calling for increased security measures.

A Freedom of Information Act request from The News reveals that the city paid about $40,000 to ongoing cleanup at homeless camps from June to December 2014. The costs mostly relate to camps on Gladys and nearby streets, such as West Railway.

The Yale Lions boys basketball team captures the provincial 4A championship in a thrilling 69-63 win over Terry Fox secondary at the Langley Events Centre.

APRIL

Olympic skeleton athlete Amy Gough and rugby star Harry Toews are inducted into the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame.

Abbotsford Police say drivers aren’t getting the message that distracted driving is dangerous. Police say they have handed out more than 200 tickets over the past month in a crackdown targeting drivers using handheld devices.

An Abbotsford couple survive a deadly earthquake in Nepal, where they had started a pasteurized milk business to help those in need. “When I imagined being in an earthquake, I thought I would have enought time to get somewhere safe,” Matthew Dawes writes. “That is not how it happened.”

Lucy and Faith Dueck, aged five and eight, receive awards for helping save the life of their three-year-old brother Nate when he fell into a pool. Cousin Abby Cunningham is also honoured for her efforts.

MAY

Dakota Leslie, 19, dies when he is struck by a vehicle near the intersection of Marshall and McCallum roads. The driver of the car that struck him remains on scene and co-operates with police.

Opposition grows to proposed changes to provincial electoral boundaries. Mayor Henry Braun, the city’s tourism director, and the Chamber of Commerce all voice displeasure with the plan.

Yale secondary’s senior boys and senior girls rugby squad each win their respective Fraser Valley Championships. It is the first senior boys title for Yale.

A WorkSafeBC report criticizes the Abbotsford school district for failing to remove spilled asbestos from a local school in timely fashion the previous December.

JUNE

A Fraser Health study shows that residents of Abbotsford and other Fraser Valley cities have higher rates of obesity compared to those who live in Metro Vancouver. One-third of Abbotsford residents are obese, according to the study.

The Salvation Army says demand for meals is outpacing donations. The organization credits both expanded meals and closures of local retail outlets for the increase in demand.

Rinze Kiljan wins $500,000 by matching all four numbers in the 6/49 Extra draw. Kiljan, who is recently retired, plans to travel to Europe with his winnings.

Council gives third reading to a large commercial development at McCallum Road and Highway 1. The development would include a 70,000-square-foot Cabela’s outdoor outfitters store as the anchor’s tenant.

JULY

Air quality takes a hit after wildfires from throughout the province and Washington State blanket Abbotsford in haze in early July. The air quality health index reaches a seven out of ten, putting it in the high range.

A small earthquake measuring 3.3 on the Richter Scale rumbles Abbotsford. The tremor is centered about seven kilometres southeast of the city.

Abbotsford Secondary football star Chase Claypool commits to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish after mulling offers from more than a dozen American schools. He makes the announcement in Oregon.

The City of Abbotsford opens its case in Supreme Court regarding the homeless issue in Abbotsford. City officials argue that they are doing the best they can to help the homeless population, while also keeping the park safe for users.

AUGUST

Bradner residents hold a rally to protest the presence of convicted sex offender James Conway in their neighbourhood. The rally attracts about 100 people, and is in response to a notice released by the police that Conway would be moving into the area on Aug. 1.

A fierce windstorm rips through Abbotsford in late August, and more than 29,000 customers lose power in the city. Winds reach 94 kilometres per hour, and Environment Canada states that it is the most powerful storm the region has seen since 2006.

(Photo below by Vikki Hopes: Bradner residents protest after it is revealed that a convicted sex offender is living in their neighbourhood. Here, Mayor Henry Braun addresses the crowd.)

SEPTEMBER

A stray bullet kills a 74-year-old man standing outside his home in West Abbotsford. Ping Shu Ao is pronounced dead at the scene near Maclure Park. Police state it’s another chapter in the Townline Hill conflict, a feud between two rival groups of young men in a West Abbotsford neighbourhood.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper holds his largest campaign rally to date at Dynamic Windows and Doors factory in early September, in advance of the election on Oct. 19. The invitation-only event draws about 850 Conservative party supporters.

The death of an 18-year-old Abbotsford resident in government care raises questions on the youth mental health services in B.C. Alex Gervais, who was in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, was living in the Super 8 hotel on Sumas Way, and fell to his death from a window at the hotel.

A massive fire at a chicken farm on Bradner Road destroys thousands of the birds and causes millions of dollars in damages to the property.

OCTOBER

Sixty nurses are laid off at Menno Hospital in central Abbotsford, as the privately run 155-bed seniors’ care facility moves to contract out staffing. The nurses’ union says the move is unfair, while administrators say it is necessary to ease a $1.62 million deficit.

The federal election on Oct. 19 upends the political landscape, with Stephen Harper’s Conservatives ousted in a 60-seat-loss rout, and the Liberals vaulting from third-party status to a 148-seat majority. Locally, Abbotsford Conservative MP Ed Fast is re-elected but now relegated to the Opposition, and Liberal Jati Sidhu wins a close race in the newly drawn riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.

After years of tension between homeless activists and the City of Abbotsford, a decision in a B.C. Supreme Court case manages to please both sides. The ruling affirms people have the right to sleep in city parks if they have nowhere else to go, and they can put up an overnight shelter to protect themselves from the elements but they have to take those shelters down in the morning, so others can use the park too.

(Photo below by Laura Rodgers: Liberal candidate Jati Sidhu wins the new federal riding of Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon.)

NOVEMBER

Abbotsford plans a 2.57 per cent tax increase for 2016, to cover rising contract costs, library improvements and hiring more police staff. The city budget shows the Abbotsford Centre arena is still losing money.

Ron Sweeney, known for his decades of work for his community, dies peacefully at age 90. Sweeney worked as a schoolteacher for nearly three decades, served on city council, and dedicated countless volunteer hours to various community groups and charities.

DECEMBER

A group of B.C. farmers cry foul after the province cracks down on non-farm uses like wedding venue rentals on the province’s agricultural land reserve. Farmers in Abbotsford say weddings bring exposure and sales boosts to their operations, while the province contends it’s unfair to use the lower-taxed land for purposes other than its intended use.

Replica guns cause panic in multiple incidents, including a school lockdown at Robert Bateman secondary and a robbery across stores in central Abbotsford. In both cases, police were able to apprehend suspects without gunfire.

A temporary 40-bed winter homeless shelter on Riverside Road opens Dec. 21. The facility, operated by Lookout Emergency Aid Society, is open 24 hours, and offers daytime drop-in space and free meals. The shelter will operate until the end of April, and is expected to re-open next winter.