Year in Review, part 2

Beer went political, Nanaimo bars went international, and the accordion went satirical in the second quarter of 2022. We watched as a massive festival was brought into Coquitlam and a community garden project was tossed out of Port Moody.

Also, in the City of the Arts, Coronation Park took a small but important step closer to completion. In Coquitlam, Fraser Mills took a giant step forward. And in Port Coquitlam, there was a historic agreement with Kwikwetlem First Nation. (There was also pro wrestling.)

Click here to read part one.
Click here to read part three.
Click here to read part four.

April

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Brewer Rick Dellow is trying to help Ukraine one draft at a time. photo supplied

PoCo brewery looks to support displaced Ukrainians with Putin-insulting ale

There’s beer, there’s pro-Ukraine sentiment and, in Port Coquitlam, they’re both brewing.

On Brown Street in Port Coquitlam, PoCo Brothers Brewing’s head brewer Rick Dellow is waiting for his first taste of a golden ale with a not-so-subtle name. The beer is called: Putin Is A Dick.

The ale is part of a fundraiser intended to get meals to hungry people in Ukraine through the charity World Central Kitchen.

Full story here.

photo supplied https://www.instagram.com/cleanerlakes/

Race to the bottom: Henry Wang’s deep dive on lake litter

There are things we lost. Things we never wanted to be found. Things we dropped by accident and things we threw into the water on purpose.

Henry Wang finds it all.

The founder of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans, Wang plumbs the depths of lakes across the province. Bracing for the cold he knows will come, Wang slips into murky water and plucks up items ranging from beer bottles to shopping carts while chronicling all he sees through various social media channels.

Wang gathered 20 pounds of garbage from Buntzen Lake including cutlery, the remains of an inner tube, a golf ball, a masonry jar and three pairs of sunglasses in the span of about 30 minutes.

Full story here.

Musical interlude: Our main squeezebox: Accordion satirist adds irreverence to local politics

After documenting pickleball drama with a little help from Whitney Houston and Oasis, musician/satirist Adam Faber lent us his thoughts on inflation and the gas rebate.

Naturally, he did it through song.

photo supplied

Kwikwetlem, Port Coquitlam strike deal on future development off Pitt River Road

It’s a step toward restoring life to an ancient village site.

That was Kwikwetlem Chief Ed Hall’s summation of a first-of-its-kind agreement that will have Port Coquitlam providing water, sewage and emergency response services on a Kwikwetlem reserve parcel earmarked for future development.

“Our long-term goal over the next several years is to develop this land into a vibrant community that honours our ancestors, Elders and future generations,” Hall stated.

The servicing agreement applies to approximately 30 acres of a 202-acre reserve land called setɬamékmən (roughly pronounced “set-slommech-mon”). The name translates as: When the tide is high we go. (Click here to hear the name pronounced properly.)

Coquitlam homeless shelter gets one-year extension following 11th hour agreement

Thirty-five vulnerable folks in Coquitlam will have a roof over their heads for at least another 12 months, following the signing of an 11th hour extension agreement with the province.

Operated by the Phoenix Society, the Best Western Sure Stay Hotel on Brunette Avenue has been providing shelter for people who might otherwise be homeless since 2020 – in part to stem the spread of COVID-19 among the homeless population.

With their lease set to expire March 31, the Phoenix Society and B.C. Housing inked a one-year extension. The down-to-the-wire deal stirred up mixed feelings, according to Phoenix Society CEO Keir Macdonald.

“On the one hand it’s relief and on the other hand it’s: where will we be in another 12 months?” he asked. “Without any sense of a longer, more sustainable plan, I’m worried we’ll be back here next March.”

Full story here.

photo supplied

Coquitlam-to-Squamish gas pipeline project moves forward

While there are still a few hurdles to clear, the Eagle Mountain gas pipeline project took a step closer to becoming a reality, following approval from BC’s Environmental Assessment Office.

The revised project, which also won approval from Skwxwú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), involves adding 47 kilometres of gas pipeline from Westwood Plateau to the planned Woodfibre LNG project outside Squamish.

In order to keep the gas flowing through the pipeline, the plan also involves increasing the horsepower of the Eagle Mountain compressor units from 20,500 horsepower to 26,000 horsepower is expected to result in a “minor increase in noise,” according to FortisBC communications advisor Alex Munro.

Full story here.

photo Marissa Tiel

Port Coquitlam man on mission to popularize the Nanaimo bar worldwide

The perfect Nanaimo bar isn’t all that complicated. There are three layers: a base of graham crumb and coconut supporting a layer of creamy custard topped with a chocolate crust.

“It has to be decadent,” says Samuel Hartono, chef and founder of Northern Bars. “You know, feel rich, not too sweet, and chocolatey and custardy and with coconut. That’s my idea of the perfect Nanaimo bar.”

If anyone knows a good Nanaimo bar, it’s Hartono. The 32-year-old from Port Coquitlam spent two years before the start of the pandemic developing his own recipe and perfecting its top-secret production methods.

Full story here.

An era in 21 chapters: New exhibit preserves Ioco’s history online

There are photos of the way it was and memories of the way it might have been.

The Port Moody Station Museum recently launched Ioco Memories on their website. A living document, the 21-chapter gallery combines oral histories, archival information and pictures in an effort to paint an accurate picture of the company town.

The history ranges from the early days of the Ioco refinery when sheep were deployed to keep the grass down.

Full story here.

photo supplied Metro Vancouver

Coquitlam Glacier may be gone by 2050, geoscientist estimates

The last glacier in Metro Vancouver is disappearing one drip at a time.

Located in the Coquitlam watershed, the Coquitlam Glacier was once expected to maintain its chilly disposition until approximately the year 2100.

However, following a more recent inspection, Metro Vancouver geoscientist Dave Dunkley said he now believes the glacier might warm into water and slush 50 years earlier than expected.

“Based on what I’ve seen, 2050 is not a wild guess,” he said.

Full story here.

Fantastic or drastic? Port Moody cuts down on plastic

Foam trays and plastic bags are off the menu in Port Moody as the city’s ban on single-use items officially went into effect.

Business owners who offer plastic stir sticks or other plastic paraphernalia could face a $1,000 fine. However, if the city pursues prosecution, the plastic pusher could be hit with a fine of $10,000 plus the costs of prosecution.

Cloth or paper?

Businesses can offer customers either a paper bag for 25 cents or a machine-washable reusable bag for $2.

The ban includes biodegradable and compostable plastic.

image supplied

Coronation Park project takes another step forward

In a meeting that stretched past midnight, Port Moody council ultimately voted to amend the city’s official community plan, clearing the way for a possible 2,665-unit development at Coronation Park.

The development includes six towers ranging from 26 to 31 storeys, more than 105,000 square feet of commercial space, a 2.5-acre park and a new pedestrian overpass.

The project still needs to go through a rezoning process including multiple council votes and a public hearing before any shovels hit the ground.

Full story here.

photo supplied Anita Niven, Tri-City Photography Club

‘Life and death decisions’ Animal rights organization calls for measures to protect young bears

Conservation officers killed 77 juvenile bears in 2021, including two in the Tri-Cities.

Those killings are indicative of systemic problems, according to animal advocacy group The Fur-Bearers.

Full story here.

image supplied

Medium density, high stakes: Coquitlam moves to densify Burke Mountain amid community outcry

Allowing for medium density development on Burke Mountain risks overwhelming infrastructure, obstructing views and backing up traffic, according to several residents who spoke to Coquitlam council.

  • Council ultimately approved a zoning change in the Partington Creek neighbourhood that would allow for:
  • Three lots of townhouses
  • Two lots of medium density apartments
  • Two lots for parks
  • One lot for watercourse protection
  • Six lots for future rezoning and subdivision

“Maintain the uniformity, standardization and [serenity] of Burke Mountain,” requested resident Manish Kumar in a letter to council. “This is indeed one of the most beautiful areas in Coquitlam and let’s keep it that way and prevent overcrowding.”

Full story here.

photo supplied City of Coquitlam

Interlude: Signs of the times

It’s a bad sign, folks.

CBC journalist Justin McElroy (one of the Top 5 rankers currently ranking things) ranked the welcome signs in 185 British Columbia communities.

Why did he do that? You might as well ask why the nightingale sings such a sweet song.

But while the list is a delight, the Tri-Cities were something of a disappointment. We didn’t make the Top 10. We didn’t make the Top 50. We only have one municipality in the Top 100. (Way to go Port Moody! The City of the Arts’ art deco logo snagged #93.)

The Coquitlams were neck-and-neck but McElroy ultimately gave the edge to Coquitlam, which finished at #157, one spot ahead of Port Coquitlam. (This despite Coquitlam’s sign being grey, generic and uninformative, according to McElroy.)

So, what do we do with this information?

Well, we could absorb this constructive criticism as a community. We could advocate for bigger signs, more distinctive fonts and eye-catching logos that reveal something about the essence of each city. Or we could laugh at one of the cities that was ranked even lower.

Ha! In your face Burnaby. Number #175? Pitiful. Just pitiful.

May

photo Jeremy Shepherd

Waving a final goodbye to the spirit of Port Moody, Mary Anne Cooper

Friends, family, admirers and fellow adventurers gathered at Inlet Theatre to bid farewell to – and to celebrate the life of – heritage advocate and environmental activist Mary Anne Cooper.

Cooper died in November 2021 at the age of 107.

Face masks doubled as hankies as a parade of speakers recounted Cooper’s warmth, wisdom and resilience.

Full story here.

Sloppy disposal of tuna and hot dogs nets Port Moody resident $230 fine

A Port Moody resident is facing a $230 fine for leaving tuna, hot dogs and pet food on their property in violation of the BC Wildlife Act.

Those attractants can draw animals including bears and coyotes into residential areas, increasing the likelihood of conflict, noted a statement from the B.C. Conservation Officer Service.

Full story here.

Art Wilkinson community garden gets uprooted

After being approved, praised, pilloried and paused – the Art Wilkinson community garden project has now been canceled, following a unanimous vote from Port Moody council.

Noting that the location offered 450 square metres, full sun and on-site parking, council advanced the then 40-bed Art Wilkinson community garden in March 2021. The project was later expanded to include 60 garden beds, much to the chagrin of many neighbours.

Concerns ranged from roving bears to: “a potential increase in crime and impacts on the safety of children,” according to a city staff report.

Full story here.

The fearless Chico Cholo leaps from the top rope. photo supplied Rob Fai

Out with the old school: NEW wrestling set to hit Port Coquitlam

How come nobody likes Rob Fai anymore?

For years the Port Coquitlam resident was the voice of the Vancouver Canadians baseball team. As a broadcaster Fai was respected. As a person he seemed affable. So, how then, do we explain the recent outrage at the Vancouver Commodore?

The crowd had all the warmth of an Uber driver with a two-star rating. Insults were hurled. Empty cans were chucked. Boos rained down on Fai as he stood in a wrestling ring. Now to be fair, Fai was being obnoxious even by the standards of Toronto Maple Leafs fans but . . . wait a minute . . . what was Rob Fai doing in a wrestling ring?

Full story here.

image supplied RCMP Federal Serious & Organized Crime division

Two kilograms of opium leads to three-year sentence as cops crack international drug trade

A Coquitlam man is facing three years in prison following an investigation into an international opium operation run out of Germany.

The case started when a German man was arrested for drug trafficking in February 2017. However, before his arrest, the suspect mailed a package to Coquitlam, according to a release issued by RCMP media relations officer Cpl. Arash Seyed.

After being tipped off by German police that the package might contain opium, RCMP officers and the Canada Border Services Agency intercepted the parcel in Toronto.

The package contained two kilograms of opium hidden in a subwoofer box, according to Seyed.

Full story here.

photo supplied Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of B.C.

Caribbean Days heads to Coquitlam

The North Shore’s loss was Coquitlam’s gain.

Featuring food, music and limbo, the Caribbean Days Festival was staged at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam for the first time in the event’s 33-year history.

After three decades in North Vancouver, event organizers reached out to City of Coquitlam staff regarding a possible change of venue in 2019.

“[We] feel we have outgrown the facility there,” explained Marilyn Perrin, president of the Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of B.C.

Full story here.

Files in Vagramov case remain sealed as court quashes appeal

It wasn’t the question, it was who they were asking.

Ultimately, the B.C. Court of Appeal was the wrong avenue to request information regarding the Alternative Measures program completed by Port Moody Mayor Rob Vagramov following a sexual assault charge, according to a court ruling.

Full story here.

image supplied

Trio of projects get final go-ahead in Port Moody

The time for words is over. The time for shovels has just begun.

Three projects totaling 482 units can move forward after Port Moody council granted final approval – albeit with a few reservations relating to high rents.

Full story here.

image supplied

Coquitlam council approves Fraser Mills project

Despite some misgivings about affordability and the loss of industrial land, Coquitlam council unanimously approved a proposal that will transform the Fraser Mills land over the next 20 to 25 years.

With 16 towers ranging from 29 to 49 storeys as well as low- and mid-rise apartment buildings, the 37-hectare project is expected to add 5,500 units and approximately 11,000 people to Coquitlam.

The project received its final approval from council in October..

Full story here.

June

photo supplied

Running for a washroom: Port Moody trail runner puts a face (and an emoji) to ulcerative colitis

This Sunday, Kelly Graves plans to stick a poop emoji pillow to her running pack, lace up her shoes and criss-cross trails from Sasamat to the Coquitlam Crunch.

It’ll be gut check time. But then again, it always is.

In 2007, Graves was in her second semester at university when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. For years she held that diagnosis as a tightly guarded secret.

Full story here.

photo supplied

No charges yet in Trina Hunt case

Police arrested a man at Trina Hunt’s Heritage Mountain home, more than 16 months after Hunt went missing and more than a year after her remains were found near Hope. The man was subsequently released without charges.

“The investigation is still ongoing. The arrest does not signify the end of the investigative process,” stated Sgt. David Lee, media relations officer with RCMP’s homicide unit.

Speaking to CTV News reporter Regan Hasegawa, family spokesperson Stephanie Ibbott said she was shattered by the development.

“Never, ever, for a moment did I think that there would be no charges. I’m so gutted, just devastated beyond explanation,” she said.

photo Jeremy Shepherd

One-woman protest at Coquitlam city hall to last ‘as long as it takes’

Her tent wasn’t supposed to be in Buchanan Square.

Tired of dealing with discrimination and abuse from landlords, Ramona Shirt says she was packing up her apartment with a camping trip in mind when another impulse took hold of her.

“I was packing up my house and I was going to go travelling with my kids,” she says. “I just wanted to go and be in the bush and away from society.”

She didn’t go.

“It’s like something just took over my body. Next thing you know I ran into city hall – exactly what my grandma did . . . I said, ‘Where’s the mayor’s office?”

Full story here.

More hungry people lining up at food banks as inflation surges

With inflation at a 31-year-high, demand at Tri-Cities food banks has increased dramatically.

As both families and single people register at the food bank each month, SHARE has seen their number of customers swell by 18 percent compared to last year, according to SHARE Family & Community Services CEO Claire MacLean.

“Folks that were doing better are now needing assistance again just to get by and folks that hadn’t needed it previously are feeling the need for support,” MacLean said.

Canada’s inflation rate rose to 6.8 percent earlier this spring. A CBC report noted that food prices rose 9.7 percent.

Full story here.

Human rights group calls for an end to the jailing of immigrants

Their mission is simple: they want to get immigrants out of jail.

A small group of human rights advocates gathered at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam to call attention to the contract that allows the Canada Border Services Agency to put immigrants and refugees in provincial jails.

“Many people are held for about a week but there are also people who are held indefinitely and have been held for years . . . with no charge,” said Omar Chu, a Coquitlam resident and member of Tri-Cities Amnesty International. “They’re locked up and they don’t really know when they’re going to get out.”

Editor’s note: B.C. ended the immigration detention arrangement with CBSA in June.

Full story here.

Port Coquitlam software developer was forcibly confined, Justice rules

A Port Coquitlam software developer was forcibly confined – but not kidnapped – according to the recently released judgment of a sometimes baffling B.C. Supreme Court case that involved allegations of a ransom, firearms and a 44-second encounter in a parking garage that was never quite explained.

Full story here.

Interlude: Fun with pronunciation

If you didn’t already know, there are many, many ways to pronounce “Coquitlam.”

Thanks to the Miami Dolphins for giving it 110% both on the field and in the pronunciation department.

From John B. to THC: pub proprietors get green light into canna-business

With three pot shop applications to choose from, Coquitlam council went with plan John B.

Northern Lights Cannabis was given the right to open up shop at 1052 Austin Avenue following a unanimous vote from council.

The pub was the sixth pot shop approved by Coquitlam in 2022, including locations in Town Centre and Barnet Highway, as well as at Woody’s Pub.

photo supplied

Noelle Elli O’Soup found dead in Vancouver apartment

A little more than one year after she went missing, Port Coquitlam teenager Noelle Elli O’Soup was found dead in Vancouver, according to an announcement from Coquitlam RCMP.

O’Soup went missing in May 2021. Described by police as a high-risk missing youth, Coquitlam RCMP appealed to the public for help in finding O’Soup.

Both the BC Coroners Service and VPD’s major crimes unit are investigating after O’Soup’s remains were found in an apartment at 405 Heatley St., according to a story published by CTV News.

In August, Global News reported O’Soup had been in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development and that, according to one family member, she’d left the Port Coquitlam group home after being bullied and feeling unsafe.

Family members also expressed frustration with the ministry, both in terms of a lack of responsiveness when O’Soup was alive and a lack of accountability after her death.

Responding to a request for information from the Dispatch, the Ministry did not comment on or confirm ministry involvement with O’Soup, “due to confidentiality.”

photo supplied

Heritage house to be saved as Coquitlam approves 123-unit development

After 113 years on Rochester Avenue, the Pollard House isn’t staying put – but it is staying.

Built in 1909, the Craftsman-influenced homestead was nearly lost, noted Coun. Craig Hodge.

“We almost didn’t save this one,” he said, explaining the city took the “extraordinary step” of putting a hold on a demolition to see if another arrangement could be worked out.

Full story here.

photo supplied Rose Tylund

Port Coquitlam apartment fire leaves dozens displaced

A blaze tore through a Wilson Avenue apartment Saturday night, leaving two people injured and, according to a CBC report, about 80 residents displaced.

Injuries: One person suffered a burn and one firefighter had to be treated for smoke inhalation.

The structure fire was finally extinguished Sunday morning. By mid-morning fire investigators were collecting evidence and engineers were assessing the structure at 2245 Wilson Avenue.

The city opened a spot at the Port Coquitlam Community Centre to house displaced residents. The city reported receiving an: “overwhelming amount of requests for donations.”

Mayor Brad West thanked the “many kind and generous” people who offered to help.

Bicycle crash highlights community kindness as well as paramedic shortage

Sue Greening had just regained consciousness on a sidewalk in Port Coquitlam when she realized something special was happening.

It was Saturday. Greening, along with her husband and a friend, had already cycled the Traboulay PoCo when they headed up Kingsway Avenue.

Her memory of what happened next is unclear. However, after talking to her husband and her friend and taking stock of her injuries, Greening says she’s fairly certain she flew over her handlebars and landed headfirst five feet away.

Full story here.

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