A look back at 2021, part 2

The Dispatch’s fond (and not so fond) tribute to the year that was

Businesses struggled, the heat dome stifled, Port Moody council squabbled and we at the Dispatch were lucky enough to chat with streamkeepers and poets and a couple of particularly fascinating florists.

We also got to see something that hadn’t been glimpsed in a century: coho fry in Cedar Creek.

Enjoy the second installment of our look back on the year that was.


A look back at 2021, part 1

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A look back at 2021, part 3

A look back at 2021, part 4


Zingers, hit-and-run attacks and allegations of an ethical breach: another night at Port Moody council

Port Moody council was about three hours and 45 minutes into a meeting when Coun. Hunter Madsen focused his remarks on Coun. Zoe Royer and what he described as her: “defamatory zingers.”

From there, Madsen’s monologue veered from Royer’s attack on his professional integrity to charges about her own.

“Personally I like Zoe, [and] have considered her a friend,” Madsen said.

Click here to read the story.

Sports From The Neck Up: Coquitlam Express Chart A Course For Brain Health In The Concussion Era

There’s something down the hall that maybe – just maybe – could change hockey for the better.

I’m in the Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic just off King George Boulevard. The clinic, located in the health and technology hub just north of Surrey Memorial Hospital, is set to be an important stop for the Coquitlam Express hockey club next season, following the team’s announcement of a partnership with the clinic earlier this spring.

As I head down the hall, the clinic’s marketing and business development manager Balraj Dhillon braces me for what I’m about to see.

It’s patented, he tells me.

It’s proprietary, I learn.

I turn down the hall, thinking of every hockey player who went back on the ice after he had his “bell rung” and paid a terrible price in chronic brain trauma. And then I see what appears to be a shower cap with delusions of grandeur.

It’s called The NeuroCatch.

Click here to read the story

Port Moody re-approves 173-unit development for Henry Street

After 15 years of stops and starts, undeveloped lots at 17-20 Henry Street were earmarked for development as Port Moody council unanimously supported the long-gestating 173-unit project.

Located on the edge of Chines hillside about one-kilometre south of Rocky Point Park, the 11-storey project got third reading from council in 2020 only to be pulled back and tweaked regarding the developer’s affordable housing contribution to the city.

Condo development blooms on Cottonwood

A 278-unit market condo development got its fourth and final reading from Coquitlam council, paving the way for construction to commence near Burquitlam SkyTrain station.

The development, which spans 18 lots on the 600-block of Cottonwood Avenue and Vanessa Court, received third reading in 2020 but didn’t get the final go-ahead until last week.

Two arrested following Pinetree Way firearm seizure

Two men were arrested and five semi-automatic firearms were seized after an RCMP patrol spotted suspicious activity in the Coquitlam Centre parking lot.

Officers from the Uniform Gang Enforcement Team watched a driver park and hurriedly leave his vehicle without locking it, according to a release from the organization.

After eventually seeing a semi-automatic rifle in the vehicle, police identified the driver and rolled to his home on the 1100 block of Pinetree Way.

The driver and another man were arrested.

Coquitlam man arrested for “straw purchasing” firearms

A Coquitlam man was sentenced to three years in prison after purchasing 40 firearms for gang members. Ashton Dickinson was a “straw purchaser” who said he was abducted and forced to buy weapons.

Dickinson said gang members abducted him and instructed him to buy weapons for over a course of eight months. He pleaded guilty to one count of weapons trafficking and to the possession of a loaded, prohibited firearm.

Police seized $30,000 worth of firearms and related gear from Dickinson’s house. They have not been able to locate the firearms that were already distributed to the gang members.

Related: The case for and against (and against) a municipal handgun ban

Start Trek: Hiker Stephen Hui’s New Book Leads Way Into The Woods

photo supplied

Directions: Hop off the #182 Belcarra around Anmore Grocery. Head north.

It’s not a hike yet because the traffic drowns out the sound of your footsteps.

Crook a left onto Pumphouse Road. See the floating bridge.

Keep walking. It’s about to happen.

The names are rich around here: Sugar Mountain, Eagle Ridge, Bearclaw. The lake is called Buntzen but somehow we all know the proper name is Beautiful.

You can hear it now. Whispering wind and swaying branches, your own footsteps. You see your shadow soft and cool on the forest floor.

Keep walking until it’s not a walk anymore.

Keep walking until it’s a hike.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Port Moody poet delves beneath smooth surface in new book

photo supplied

Scars and words.

Seated in a folding chair on Rocky Point, poet Rob Taylor meditates on the real scars and the deeper, invisible marks.

Taylor was 11 when his father died.

“[A] formative experience in my life,” he says.

That’s one scar.

Then there’s a mark on his knuckle, about the size of fork tines. It was from the time he was 14 and tried to swipe fruit from his mother’s plate during brunch.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Port Moody archaeologist get buzz from collecting beer cans

David Maxwell has been collecting beer cans since the 1970s. His obsession started as an 11-year-old child who loved to dumpster dive – much to his mother’s dismay.

Since then, Maxwell has built up quite the collection. He says his office at Simon Fraser University, where he teaches archaeology, looks more like a pub than an office. His collection currently contains 4,500 beer cans, with the oldest can dating back to 1935.

Collecting beer cans is more than just a hobby for Maxwell – he says the cans have archaeological value. He even published a field guide, Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist, in 1993.

Maxwell collects beer cans because they can provide insight on the social climate of the area and time they were produced.

Port Moody councillors propose “super park”

Imagine the Barnet Landfill Site, Westhill Park, and Alfred Howe Greenway merged into one “super park.”

That was the pitch from Couns. Meghan Lahiti and Diana Dilworth Tuesday night, as the councillors extolled the virtues of a 60-acre greenspace that would serve Port Moody’s growing population without using tax dollars to buy new property.

Council passed a motion for staff to create a report on the implications of a new park. The motion noted the need for community input.

“I see this as being more of a community gathering space than a traditional park,” Lahti said.

Saving Maple: Walking the creek on the edge of the city

It rained last night and the ground around Maple Creek is soft.

We’ve just walked from Chine Avenue, past big trucks, light industry and fencing topped with razor wire. After 20 paces that world disappears behind pine trees.

Footsteps are muffled and the wind drifts through the woods with the leisurely pace of an aesthete in an art gallery.

It would be serene if not for the very angry bird screaming the avian equivalent of bloody murder from the treetops.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Coho fry spawn in Cedar Creek for first time in a century

photo Jason Macnair

A fisheries biologist found something in Cedar Creek that hadn’t been spotted there in a century: coho fry.

“It’s the first evidence that they’ve spawned and incubated successfully above the dam in 115 years,” said Kwikwetlem First Nation environmental advisor Craig Orr.

The fry are the fruits of a program that involved waiting for coho to come off the Coquitlam river and up the tributary toward the dam. Once they were in a trap, 62 coho were plucked from the water, dropped in tanks, stacked on trucks and chauffeured above the dam to Cedar Creek.

Orr said he remembers thinking the chances of spawning were pretty good, but maybe not great.

There are about a dozen of them, all of which will likely spend a year or more in freshwater.

“We’ll see if they actually come down through the dam,” Orr says. “See if they can get a bit of a self-sustaining population.”

After years of working on the river with the Watershed Watch Salmon Society, Orr seemed delighted to see coho fry in the creek.

“The success of having them spawn after 115 years is pretty cool.”

Not caught on camera: a look at anti-Asian racism from the frontlines

Peggy Lau has watched those viral videos of racism at parks and grocery stores.

“The incidents that we watch on the news are just, perhaps, the tip of the iceberg,” Lau says.

Working at the settlement services division at S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a non-profit pledged to building inclusive communities, Lau has heard stories of racism from both her clients and colleagues.

“My colleagues being spit on on SkyTrain . . . just because they are Asian,” she says.

Mounting harassment: Among clients, she’s heard accounts of being stared down, cursed out, and blamed for COVID-19.

“We’ve seen a lot more unreported cases in our senior clients,” she says. “They simply don’t know how to react to it.”

While the incidents go unreported, Lau says her clients will sometimes open up when she’s connecting them with community programs or government services.

“Social media right now is a very powerful tool that could do a lot of good but also a lot of harm,” Lau says.

Related: No More Innocent Bystanders: Pushing Back Against Anti-Asian Racism

Coquitlam author draws on inspiration from life in the Tri-Cities for children’s book series

If you grew up in the Tri-Cities, the award-winning children’s book series Sophie Trophy will likely make you feel nostalgic.

Eileen Holland’s book strikes a familiar narrative to those who spent their formative years in search of adventure.

The former Coquitlam teacher is the recipient of this year’s Chocolate Lily Award in the Children’s Chapter Book category. She says her own childhood wanderlust was an inspiration for Sophie Trophy’s silly antics.

“I was a quiet little dreamy kid with a big imagination,” she says.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

School of fish: a morning at Mossom Creek Hatchery

You could miss it three times.

Drive too fast down Ioco Road and you roll right by.

Turn up the hill and, if you’re not paying attention, you might think you were trapped in a cul-de-sac.

Break out of the cul-de-sac (which wasn’t really a cul-de-sac) and you spend the next kilometre bumping up a gravel path.

If you’re prone to self-doubt, you might find yourself wondering how to turn around and escape this road to nowhere when you see it.

Built (and rebuilt) on the site of a gravel pit, Mossom Creek Hatchery juts out of the hill like a sawed-off castle.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

McAllister closed as Port Coquitlam kicks off downtown project

McAllister Avenue was closed to vehicles between Shaughnessy and Mary Hill Road as crews added landscaping, built out cycling paths and incorporated street-front patios.

The idea was to turn McAllister into a pedestrian-friendly one-way eastbound street with angled parking.

“It will also set the tone for the other improvements coming to our downtown in the next few years,” Mayor Brad West stated.


Trina Hunt’s family offers $50,000 reward

One month after the Port Moody woman’s death was deemed a homicide, Trina Hunt’s family offered a $50,000 reward for anyone with information that leads to an arrest.

“We have had no answers, no arrests and no closure,” Hunt’s family stated in a release. “We need you to come forward. We need you to be Trina’s voice. Please, we beg of you to do the right thing and put an end to this unnecessary suffering.

‘No Man’s Land’: Homeless In Lions Park

One hand twitches into a half-fist as he tugs at the bright green tarp that’s meant to protect him from the weather.

It’s Tuesday afternoon. The temperature will reach 29 degrees before the day’s over. Darrell Haughain, 59, is lying on the grass in front of the red brick public washroom building at Lions Park.

“My nerve damage is getting worse and worse. It’s getting to a point where I can’t hardly move my leg,” Haughain says.

He talks about the spasms that take over his whole body.

“There’s no place for me to go.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Local shops struggle to the other end of the pandemic

photo Richard Dal Monte

What if you started when everything stopped?

What if you had the idea and the energy, the passion and the plan? What if you’d saved and sacrificed, tapped into your years of experience and expertise, mortgaged everything you owned, poured every spare moment into starting a business.

And then . . .

And then the pandemic stopped everything just after you opened or while you were negotiating bank loans and navigating government regulations, or as you were preparing to open a new location.

What would you do to survive?

Here’s what several Tri-City businesses in the hospitality industry did.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

123 condos set to rise in Maillardville despite affordability concerns

The meeting was contentious but the vote was not close Monday evening as Coquitlam council approved 123 condominiums arrayed in two mid-rise woodframe buildings at 209 Lebleu Street.

Several speakers assailed the decision to replace the site’s 16 strata townhouses with condos.
“It just causes the property values of the entire neighbourhood to go up . . . destroying affordable housing in our city,” said Vaani Nadhan.

Nadhan, who introduced herself as a mother of three, said she wasn’t opposed to development, but she was against high-end condos that could play a part in: “pushing out working families just like ours who have nowhere else to go in Coquitlam because of the atrocious housing prices.”

The project garnered support from neighbour Nora Naijar, who suggested Maillardville “needs a facelift.”
“It makes me happy to see that my neighbourhood is blooming,” Naijar said.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Port Moody councillor defends early exit as rival politicians trade barbs on Facebook

A “stupid and pointless drama” spilled onto social media as Port Moody’s mayor and a rival councillor have wrote conflicting accounts of a May 25 public hearing that now threatens to stretch into a three-week ordeal.

Leaving an in-progress public hearing prior to the vote was: “the best and only course of action,” according to Coun. Meghan Lahti.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

4,000-unit development could net Coquitlam more than $140 million

A development that would transform central Coquitlam was unveiled today as council got a preliminary look at 4,000 housing units arrayed over 11.6 acres on Pinetree Way and Lougheed Highway, covering the spot currently occupied by the Chrysler dealership and stretching to Pheasant Street and Christmas Way.

The project also includes a 150-room hotel that would be “comparable to a Hilton or Marriott,” a grocery store, a daycare, and commercial space equivalent to more than half Coquitlam Centre Mall, according to a staff report.

The project, which also includes an office building linked with the hotel, is expected to generate about 800 jobs.

The project is tentatively slated to go before council for first reading in mid-2022.

It’s where all the flowers have gone: Pandemic brings a boost and a burden to local florists

We start with a memory: A woman holds a red rose in one hand and presses the Clarke Street crosswalk button with the other.

Her eyes are on traffic. Her mind on business. Patricia Navarro waits.

When the car stops she’ll quick-walk over, present the driver with a rose and tell him about Vivio Flowers, that little shop he just passed. And then the light will turn green and she’ll hope she made a customer.

“The traffic light there,” Navarro smiles, pointing from the floor of her Port Moody shop.

After working long days for more than a year, she sounds happy but tired, like a new parent who got their baby to sleep on the third try.

It was 18 years ago that she handed out roses to drivers on Clarke and offered flowers to soccer moms at games and pracices to get her business moving.

There’s something about the desperation of the pandemic that reminds her of those days, she says.

“People are more sensitive, less patient. They expect more from you. No mistakes. Less tolerance. That’s what the pandemic brought to us,” she says.

About nine kilometres down the road at the Floral Revelry Florist in Port Coquitlam, Karon Fuson describes the opposite experience.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame honours inductees in virtual gala

photo supplied

The hockey player who brought the Coquitlam Express to town and a soccer player who pushed her sport to the global stage are among this year’s inductees into the Coquitlam Sports Hall of Fame.

The organization released a 60-minute virtual awards ceremony hosted by Perry Solkowski Wednesday afternoon to honour the newest members of Coquitlam’s hall and wall.

“I’m not really sure how I got in,” says former Centennial basketball coach Rich Chambers as he reflects on his half-century on the sidelines.

“I probably haven’t changed enough,” he says. “I’m still pretty old school.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

‘I am your neighbour and you don’t know my story’

photo supplied

She came to Canada in the footsteps of revolutionaries: a 10-year-old girl on an 18-hour flight, imagining.

She imagined a country that would be different from the one she was leaving. She would be disappointed.

Growing up in Johannesburg, Zeenat Saloojee witnessed the “racial crime” that characterized South Africa under apartheid. It was a dehumanizing, segregationist system her mother and father fought against.

That fight ultimately resulted in her parents facing exile and subsequently seeking asylum in Canada in the late 1960s.

Saloojee stayed behind. She was raised by her extended family until her mother “did a cloak and dagger” and brought her to Canada, she recalls.

It was 1977.

“I just imagined that it would be completely different,” she says of her new country. “It really wasn’t.”

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Doughnut shop opens

After an interminable wait, Doughnut Love has opened its doors on Como Lake Avenue.

Try it out. But please don’t take the last apple fritter.

Across the pandemic: a look at food insecurity

photo supplied

It’s not being tired. Tired can come with the satisfaction of a job well done. Fatigue, as the writer James Jones put it, is: “the knowledge of the unendingness and of the repetitious uselessness, the do it up so it can be done again, that makes Fatigue fatigue.”

After 16 months of pandemic, food bank volunteers may not be fatigued but they are getting a little weary.

“They’ve been unbelievable,” says Claire MacLean, CEO of SHARE Family & Community Services.

When the lockdown hit there was – besides all the other uncertainty – a concern about whether volunteers would still trek out to collect, sort, drive and distribute food.

“They just continued to show up,” MacLean says. “And they have done so throughout this entire pandemic.”

It’s an honour to do the work, to bring people food and, in a big or small way, to become part of their lives, MacLean notes.

“There’s not a single distribution day that goes by that there isn’t an amazing story,” she says.

But that doesn’t mean the work isn’t taxing.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Port Moody-Coquitlam MP defends vote on conversion therapy bill

Canada took a step toward banning conversion therapy with a 263-63 vote in the House of Commons last week.

Targeting LGBTQ2+ youth, conversion therapy is an attempt to change a person’s sexual or gender identity.

While Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole supported the ban, 62 Conservative representatives – including Port Moody-Coquitlam MP Nelly Shin – voted against Bill C-6.

One independent MP also opposed the motion, which made it a criminal act to cause a child to undergo conversion therapy as well as to promote or advertise conversion therapy.

While stating that she opposed conversion therapy as a practice, Shin said the legislation: “could potentially result in undue prosecution” due to a lack of clear definitions.

“Unfortunately, the Liberals ignored reasonable efforts to build a consensus and strengthen the bill,” she stated.

Coquitlam council approves 25-storey Pipeline Rd. development amid conversation of Super Bowl ads, procreation rates

Following a conversation that ranged from the history of racist housing policies to the aesthetic advantages of living on a cliffside, Monday’s meeting concluded with Coquitlam council approving a 202-unit condo/rental highrise on Pipeline Road.

The 262-foot tall building is earmarked to replace a 1983-era building comprised of 35 purpose-built rentals that currently occupies the site near Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain station – despite one councillor’s concerns about gentrification.

Click here to read the rest of the story.


20 Years Of Faith And Recovery: A Look Inside Talitha Koum

She was in a cell while the virus spread.

In the spring of 2020 Candi K. was arrested and locked in the Alouette Correctional Centre for Women – not too far from the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre where a cluster of COVID-19 cases spread to 31 inmates and five workers.
“We were locked in our cells almost all day. We were only able to come out for food,” Candi recalls.

She remembers the fear that a worker might pass from FRCC to ACCW and bring the virus with them.
“I was thinking: ‘I’m going to die in here,’” she says. “We’re all going to get COVID.”

Candi wrote letters to her family then. She wanted to apologize for everything. There was, and is, a lot of pain in her past.

Telling her story more than a year later over a picnic table in a Coquitlam backyard, Candi is relaxed and funny. She laughs a lot. Listening to her, it’s sometimes difficult to reconcile the cheerful person in front of you with the history behind her.

She has HATE tattooed on her left hand. I ask if there’s LOVE tattooed on her other hand. She shakes her head.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Ambulance service slow and getting slower in Tri-Cities

Coquitlam residents in life-threatening situations waited longer for an ambulance to arrive than residents in almost every other major city in B.C., according to data obtained by the Fraser Valley Current.

Based on median figures for 2020, it took an ambulance 10 minutes and 52 seconds to respond to a call in Coquitlam. Among 22 communities with at least 5,000 ambulance calls in 2020, Coquitlam ranked 20th in response time, ahead of only Delta and Langley.

Part of the challenge of serving the Tri-Cities stems from the decision to move the former Port Moody paramedic station to a site “essentially right beside our other station,” said Troy Clifford, president of the Ambulance Paramedics of B.C.

Read the story here.

Standing up for your comic: Port Coquitlam teacher gets graphic

image supplied

It’s an uncharted wasteland known only to the fortunate, the foolish and the bold. They call it early retirement.

It’s there, in that alien landscape that a Citadel Middle School teacher-turned-science fiction writer is working, charting yet another world in graphic detail.

Greg Tjosvold is the author of the Lump Sum Saga, a science fiction story that begins with alien explorers scuttling across a barren landscape in search of water.

“I’m a big sci-fi geek,” Tjosvold says, discussing his affection for Star Trek and Babylon 5.

For a time he was content to channel that geekery into his work as an educator.

Click here to read the story.


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