2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

These are some of the people and events that made the news in the last 12 months


* Some Abbotsford neighbourhoods saw the assessed value of their homes spike by up to 50 per cent, foreshadowing steep rises in their property tax bills. The city’s average assessment rise was 32 per cent, but those whose home values rose significantly more than average would be faced with having to pay more money.

* Christy Clark’s B.C. government gave the green light on Jan. 11 for the expansion of Kinder Morgan Canada’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which runs through Abbotsford for around 30 kilometres. An agreement between the province and the company would provide a $1 billion investment and annual payments of between $25 million and $50 million.

* Racist pamphlets bearing the name of the Ku Klux Klan were distributed in Abbotsford over the weekend of Jan. 14. Police found 70 bags with derogatory content over several streets in the city.

* Dave Holmberg, a prominent local philanthropist, businessman and political strategist, died Jan. 23 after a five-year battle with cancer. He was 75. Holmberg was remembered as a giant of the city whose philanthropic work led to the construction of the city’s first free-standing adult hospice, and whose tireless work and financial support led to the construction of the Discovery Trail.

A freezing-rain storm in February resulted in a thick layer of ice coating trees, cars and homes.


* The provincial government approved the construction of a new $150 million courthouse in Abbotsford. The new facility will include rooms for Supreme Court and will be a significant upgrade on a facility deemed to be cramped and deficient. A report previously suggested it would be hard to “maintain safe and effective operations” at the current facility beyond 2018.

* Nearly two feet of snow fell on Abbotsford over three days in early February, equalling the city’s average yearly snowfall totals. The city hadn’t fully dug out from the storm before freezing rain coated trees, cars and homes in a thick layer of ice, bringing down trees and turning roads treacherous.

* Abbotsford’s Cam Carter won a prestigious Loran Scholarship, which is awarded to students around Canada who are deemed to be well-rounded young leaders.

* Satkar Sidhu, 23, was gunned down on Feb. 20 in a “brazen shooting” police believed to be linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict. After Sidhu was shot – around 9:40 a.m. – a vehicle was seen fleeing the scene. Three men were later arrested in Mission after RCMP deployed a spike belt.


* The Abbotsford News took a closer look at Abbotsford Regional Hospital following the deaths of two people who were sent home after coming to ARH’s emergency room in February. Three-year-old Nimrat Gill and 56-year-old Mary Louise Murphy both died after attending, and being sent home from ARH. While investigators continued to probe the deaths, The News found the hospital has been unable to solve congestion issues that have plagued it for years.

* Former long-time mayor George Ferguson, who died March 7 at the age of 91, was remembered as a “man of the people” and a “prince of a man” who was a fixture in Abbotsford over four decades. He was hailed for the ability to put people at ease and welcome debate.

* Another gang-related shooting claimed another life as 20-year-old Jaskarn Lally was found dead in his family home on March 24. The killing was believed to be linked to the ongoing Lower Mainland gang conflict. A black Ford F-150 was seen leaving the scene of the crime.

* The body of Joseph Kellington, 24, was found on a property on Ross Road and deemed a homicide. He had last been seen on Jan. 29.

Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin made his debut at the Masters on April 6.


* Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin made his debut at one of the biggest events on the golf calendar when he teed off at the Masters on April 6. The Ledgeview Golf and Country Club product qualified for the prestigious event after winning the Valspar Championship the prior month. He finished tied for 36th overall at the event, and shot six over (294) over the four rounds.

* Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong announced a $15 million expansion to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s emergency room on April 3. The expansion planned to include 7,200 square feet of additional space that doctors and physicians hope will ease persistent congestion issues at the facility. It also includes a dedicated mental health and substance use area, relocation of ambulance bays, creation of a nursing substation and dedicated stretcher bays.

* It was announced that Jubilee Park will receive a $1.8 million redevelopment. A conceptual drawing shown at the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association suggested the re-design would see dozens of parking spots added, the relocation of tennis courts now used for pickleball and the planting of a number of trees. The province will kick in $800,000 towards the project, with the city anteing up $500,000 and private funding eyed for the remaining $400,000.

* Abbotsford’s parks were announced as non-smoking zones after council passed the first three readings of a bylaw on April 24. New rules given the go-ahead by council banned smoking on all city property, including city parks, and within seven metres of all public buildings. The bylaw also treated vapour products and marijuana like cigarettes and other tobacco products.

A homeless man who went by the name of “Zolicon” parked himself at the corner of Bourquin Crescent and South Fraser Way for most of May.


* Local parents were upset after new enrolment procedures made it nearly impossible to transfer their elementary-school-aged children to Abbotsford Middle School. The issues arose after Grade 5 students at South Poplar Traditional Elementary were told they would likely have to attend Abbotsford Traditional Middle rather than Abbotsford Middle, due to new district rules meant to ease overcrowding at the school.

* For most of the month of May, a homeless man going by the name Zolicon parked himself at the corner of Bourquin Crescent West and South Fraser Way. He held a wooden sign explaining that he was homeless and was living on the corner with his two cats.

* Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a stop in Abbotsford at the Gur Sikh Temple on May 19. Trudeau extolled Canada’s strengths as a multicultural nation during a speech to about 250 people in attendance. The speech was given on the one-year anniversary of his apology in Parliament for the Canadian government’s action in the Komagata Maru incident.

* The body of Abbotsford resident Nektar Pardalis was found by police in the garage of his east Abbotsford home after they received a report of a suspicious circumstance in the area. Investigators later confirmed that a homicide had occurred and that Pardalis was targeted.


* It was announced that Mayne Coatings was coming to Abbotsford and the manufacturer of aluminum siding products for commercial and residential buildings would create a massive new industrial facility off Clearbrook Road that would employ hundreds. The plant will have three times more floor space than Tradex and employ as many as 300.

* The OK Tire store on South Fraser Way in Abbotsford was destroyed by an arsonist in the early morning on June 17. About 40 firefighters responded to the scene to battle the blaze. The store remains closed to this day. A witness reported seeing a thin man in dark clothing and a hoodie flee the scene eastbound.

* Christine Wiebe became Abbotsford’s oldest ever high school graduate when she crossed the floor in the Abbotsford Virtual School gymnasium. The 75-year-old mom, grandma and great-grandmother kept the achievement a secret from her family until the prior Christmas, when she gave them each invitations to her graduation ceremony.


* The Abbotsford Police made some big drug busts and arrested several individuals allegedly involved in the trade of illicit substances. They seized cash, guns and drugs, including the deadly opiate fentanyl.

* An Abbotsford cop was lucky to be alive after being dragged by a speeding car. The officer had pulled over a red Nissan Sentra and was questioning its driver when he suddenly attempted to flee the scene. He was dragged a block down the road, had an altercation with someone inside and then got free of the car. The driver was later pulled over and arrested near Chilliwack.

* A group of local parents complained to the school board about a policy that forced their kids to take a school bus out of their neighbourhood to attend kindergarten. The school board tweaked and simplified the enrolment administrative procedure in November.

* Clarence Crothers, 62, was found dead in his apartment on Braun Avenue. Jeffrey Charles Halicki, 50, was arrested the following month and charged with second-degree murder.

A massive blaze ripped through a lumber mill near the Mt. Lehman exit off HIghway 1 in August.


* A brazen daylight shooting left an 18-year-old Abbotsford man dead. Jaspreet Sidhu died shortly after being shot on Oriole Crescent, fleeing by car down George Ferguson Way and crashing into an apartment building, narrowly missing an elderly woman. Police said Sidhu was known to police and associated with gangs.

* A massive blaze ripped through a lumber mill near the Mt. Lehman Road exit off Highway 1. The flames reached as high as 30 metres in the air but firefighters were able to contain the fire and stop it from spreading to a nearby gas station and RV dealer.

* Smoke from wildfires in B.C.’s Interior choked the Lower Mainland for much of August. A NASA satellite image showed the smoke blanketing the area.

* The body of missing woman Chelsey Gauthier of Abbotsford was found in Mission. She had been missing since July 27.

* Another 18-year-old was shot and killed in August. Sehajdeep Sidhu was gunned down on Huntingdon Road near Gladwin Road on Aug. 31.


* Abbotsford Police warned the public about the release of a sex offender with a history of crimes against children. Donald Williams Snow was released from federal custody in Abbotsford to the supervision of Abbotsford Community Corrections.

* Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas was kicked out of the BC Liberal Party after he agreed to sit as Speaker of the provincial legislature under the NPD government, against the wishes of his own party.


* Community builder Jack Robertson died at the age of 91, leaving a legacy that includes Rotary Stadium and the Abbotsford Sports Hall of Fame.

* A bus driver for a private school was fired after a seven-year-old student was hit after getting off a bus on Curlew Drive in west Abbotsford. Video of the incident was circulated widely across social media. The child was hospitalized and recovered from his injuries.

* A meeting was held in Abbotsford to address the controversial SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) material in schools, drawing presenters who said it would brainwash children to become gay, lesbian and transgender. Proponents fought back, saying the material will help all kids feel included.

* A trial date was set for Gabriel Klein, the man charged with fatally stabbing 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and her 14-year-old friend as they sat in the rotunda of Abbotsford Senior Secondary on Nov. 1, 2016. The trial is scheduled for May 7, 2018 in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

* Three women and two men – ranging in age from 40 to 67 – died from overdoses in a nine-hour period on Oct. 27. Abbotsford Police had previously issued warnings about batches of drugs mixed with fentanyl and carfentanil.

A procession of law enforcement officials and first responders from Canada, the U.S. and Scotland marched along McCallum Road on Nov. 19 for the funeral of Const. John Davidson.


* Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson was gunned down Nov. 6 when he was the first to arrive on the scene following reports of a man firing a gun at citizens at a strip mall on Mt. Lehman Road. The news left the community reeling in shock and resulted in an outpouring of support to the Abbotsford Police Department from across the globe. Thousands of first responders – including officers from Davidson’s first post in Scotland – attended the full police honours funeral on Nov. 19 at Abbotsford Centre, which was preceded by a formal procession along McCallum Road.

* Oscar Arfmann, the man charged with killing Const. John Davidson, made his first appearance in court. His next appearance was set for Jan. 12 in Abbotsford provincial court.

* The Mennonite Central Committee announced the opening of a temporary homeless shelter for men and women over the age of 50 at its location on Gladys Avenue.

* Several temperature records were broken in B.C. on Nov. 22, including in Abbotsford, which hit 19.1 degrees Celsius.

* A new report from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation indicated that Abbotsford has the tightest rental market in the country, along with Kelowna, at just 0.2 per cent.

Hala Albarhoum, 9, died on Dec. 1 after she was struck by a city bus in a crosswalk at South Fraser Way and Hill-Tout Street. A roadside memorial soon began forming.


* Hala Albarhoum, 9, died after being struck by a city bus while she was walking to school with her father. The incident occurred on Dec. 1 in a crosswalk at South Fraser Way and Hill-Tout Street. The girl was a recently settled refugee from Syria. A GoFundMe page was started to help raise money for her mom, dad and two siblings.

* The Abbotsford Police Department held a Community Appreciation Day at Tradex to thank citizens for their support following the death of Const. John Davidson. Hundreds turned out for the event. Also during the month, a memorial parking spot was dedicated to Davidson in the strip mall where he was gunned down.

* Charges in the Surrey Six murder case were stayed against Red Scorpion gangster Jamie Bacon, formerly of Abbotsford. The judge’s reason for the decision were sealed. The Crown announced a week later that it will appeal the decision.

* A drug bust by Abbotsford Police resulted in the seizure of two kilograms of drugs, including those containing fentanyl and carfentanil. Also seized were weapons, $46,000 cash and other evidence. Two people were charged, and more charges were expected against at least two other individuals.


2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford

2017: The year in review in Abbotsford