Top 10 Oceanside News stories of 2021

Nine fire departments and over 50 firefighters responded to a fire at the Co-op gas station in Whiskey Creek, which sustained significant damage on June 17, 2021. || Photo by Tyler Hay.
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COVID-19 may have dominated headlines around the world and in Oceanside, but our reporters got out of the office every chance they had to report on events and issues important to the community. Here are some of the most prominent and impactful stories we reported on in 2021 (in no particular order).

New water supply for residents of French Creek subdivision

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Residents, such as Ron Ward, dealt with a brownish-coloured, unappealing water supply for years. || Photo is a screenshot from a video Ward submitted to the June 23, 2020 RDN board meeting

After decades of substandard drinking water, residents in the Sandpiper subdivision of French Creek finally have clear water running from their taps. The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) reached an agreement with the Town of Qualicum Beach to supply water to 242 households in Sandpiper.

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Parksville’s proposed aquatic and recreation centre

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Coun. Doug O’Brien speaks at a rally opposed to the proposed site for the Parksville Aquatic and Recreation Centre at the end of Despard Avenue. || Photo by Kevin Forsyth

The City of Parksville released a feasibility study, as well as a test location, for the proposed aquatic and recreation centre in early 2021. The test site at the end of Despard was the subject of debates on council, as well as a demonstration in June. Council decided to pause studies on the site after a report by Golder-WSP found the site is home to valuable ecological communities. The city said it plans to create an ecological reserve there instead.

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Anne Skipsey elected to Qualicum Beach Council

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Coun. Anne Skipsey took her oath of office for Qualicum Beach town council on May 27, 2021 via Zoom.

Qualicum Beach held a byelection to replace former town councillor Adam Walker, elected to the legislature in 2020. Anne Skipsey won the by-election, which saw strong voter participation, defeating her closest rival, Sarah Duncan, by over 500 votes.

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Whiskey Creek Co-op burns

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Nine fire departments and over 50 firefighters responded to a fire at the Co-op gas station in Whiskey Creek, which sustained significant damage on June 17, 2021.|| Photo by Tyler Hay.

No injuries were reported after the Whiskey Creek Co-op gas station burned down in June. The cause of the blaze was determined to be a vehicle fire that spread to the nearby gas pumps, Coombs-Hilliers Fire Department told Oceanside News.

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Two new air carriers for Qualicum Beach

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Iskwew Air (top) and Oceanside Air (bottom) both began service out of Qualicum Beach Airport in 2021. || Images courtesy of Iskwew Air and Oceanside Air.

Qualicum Beach Airport was without a carrier for over a year, but in 2021 two airlines began regular service. Iskwew Air began regular flights to Vancouver in early August, followed by Oceanside Air’s launch later that month. The latter ran into problems when the town cancelled its lease after an alleged security breach that involved staff entering the airport’s restricted area with alcohol during a birthday celebration.

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The Parksville Community Centre

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File photo

The City of Parksville announced in late 2020 it would not renew its agreement with the Parksville Community Centre Society (PCCS) and would instead work with BGC of Central Vancouver Island to operate the facility. The city was approved for a $2 million grant from the provincial government to complete renovations to the PCC to facilitate the new childcare spaces and community programming. The issue is the subject of a notice of civil claim and a petition to the court.

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Fire destroys the Sanctuary of the Rastafarian Order in Coombs

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Aftermath of a fire in Coombs Jan. 4, 2021 that destroyed the Sanctuary of the Rastafarian Order. || Photo by Tyler Hay

The Coombs-Hilliers Volunteer Fire Department, along with seven neighbouring departments, fought an early morning fire in Coombs on Jan. 4 that completely destroyed the Sanctuary of the Rastafarian Order.

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Oceanside Community Track project receives strong community support

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Left to right: Jim Hoffman, Parksville Lions president, Rudy Terpstra, Oceanside Community Track Committee chair and Jane Waite, Oceanside Track & Field president were presented with a cheque from Parksville Lions Club at Ballenas Secondary School on Dec. 22, 2021. || Photo by Kevin Forsyth.

A campaign to fundraise a new track received strong community support and hopes to begin construction on the project next year. The six-lane rubberized track will cost an estimated $1.5 million and replace School District 69’s existing track, which is over 40 years old and in poor condition.

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Developers propose 800 unit community in Parksville near Englishman River

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Future Land Use Map/ City of Parksville Official Community Plan image showing where the proposed neighbourhood would be located, if approved by the city. || City of Parksville image.

In July, a developer submitted an application for official community plan (OCP) and zoning amendments to pave the way for a new 800 unit community east of the Englishman River in the area of Greig Road.

District Developments Corporation hopes to change the land’s zoning from agricultural to a comprehensive development zone to allow a mix of low-rise multi-family and single-family residential units within the planned neighbourhood.

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Defamation civil claim filed against Qualicum Nature Preservation Society

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Ezra Morse, president of the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society, addresses a crowd outside Qualicum Beach Town Hall on July 3. || Photo by Tyler Hay

Two separate civil claims for defamation were filed by the owners of Todsen Design and Construction — one against the president of the Qualicum Nature Preservation Society (QNPS) and the other against the administrator of the Facebook page Concerned Citizens of Qualicum Beach (CCQB) in May 2021. QNPS requested dismissal of the case, citing the Protection of Public Participation Act. Todsen Design and Construction denied the lawsuit is a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP).  

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