Work continues on the McKenzie interchange project. (Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure photo)

A look back at the West Shore’s top stories of 2019

Escaped inmates, new amenities and commuter delays all drew the attention of our readers

The past year has been filled with breaking news events, feel-good community stories and key service announcements for West Shore residents. These are the top stories of 2019, read online at goldstreamgazette.com.

$11 million overdraw for McKenzie Interchange construction

The top stories of the year all involved construction updates on the McKenzie interchange project. It’s clear West Shore commuters are eager to see the completion of the project and in the meantime, how construction will impact them.

Motorists have had to contend with a number of delays this year as a result of changes to traffic signal timings and lane closures on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Traffic lights on Highway 1 at McKenzie Avenue have been removed and completion of the rest of the $96-million project is expected next summer, barring any more unforeseen delays.

Escaped inmates serving time for second-degree murder, aggravated assault

One of the top stories of the year – as well as the subsequent follows – was the escape of two inmates from the William Head Institution in Metchosin.

Staff discovered Zachary Armitage and James Lee Busch were not accounted for on Sunday, July 7. Busch was serving an indeterminate sentence for second-degree murder and assault. Armitage was serving a sentence of 13 years, 10 months and four days for robbery, aggravated assault and other offences.

The pair noticed the tide was low and made a “spontaneous decision” to escape by walking along the shoreline, according to submissions from Armitage’s defence attorney at a later court appearance.

They evaded capture for two days and were located in Esquimalt after commenting on the size of a dog on the evening of July 9, unknowingly alerting its owner — an off-duty RCMP officer — to their location.

Armitage was given an additional year to his current sentence for the escape. Busch is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 13.

Langford buys $2.2 million oceanfront property with plans for eco-tourism, recreation

Rounding out the top three is a look at more amenities coming for West Shore residents.

The City of Langford has unveiled plans to turn a recently-acquired oceanfront property on Finlayson Arm into an eco-tourism and recreational site by the spring. The City acquired the 22-acre property located at 3680 Trans-Canada Hwy. this year for close to $2.2 million, which is expected to be paid over three years.

Over the winter months, Langford will work on basic improvements including painting and preparing the site and will engage with the neighbours to address any concerns they have. The City will also finalize programming options for the space with plans to release more details in the coming months.

Langford has ‘no plans’ to make changes to Western Speedway after noise complaints

Concerns over the future of Western Speedway caught the attention of readers this year.

Residents near Western Speedway came home to a flyer highlighting concerns about noise from the popular racetrack back in June. The flyer noted “the population affected by the noise coming from the Speedway has increased dramatically and at the same time the natural sound barriers on Millstream have been removed.” It called for people to reach out to the City to address the issue of noise abatement.

Two residents residing at the same address met with Coun. Lillian Szpak and Lorne Fletcher, manager of community safety and municipal enforcement. Szpak said the residents believe the noise from the Speedway is disturbing their day-to-day life.

She also noted, however, that about 10 years ago Langford applied a covenant to lands rezoned for residents to ensure they are made aware of the Speedway in case they failed to notice it while house hunting.

“It’s kind of like when you make people aware there’s a farm next door,” Szpak said. “Council has absolutely no plans on making any changes … that has never been entertained.”

Police call Happy Valley shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident

A late morning shooting in Langford also drew the interest of readers.

On April 23, the West Shore RCMP was called to the Happy Valley Market in Langford after reports of a shooting outside the store at approximately 11 a.m. Two individuals fled the scene when police arrived but one suspect crashed into a commercial truck on Kelly Road. Police were already on scene for an unrelated crash and the suspect was taken into custody. Police also seized a firearm from the vehicle.

Police called the shooting a “targeted and isolated incident.”

Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

And while not a local story, online readers were especially engaged with a viral video of two grizzly bears fighting along a northern B.C. highway. Cari McGillivray captured the footage and it’s a memory she’s not likely to forget any time soon. McGillivray posted the video to Facebook, showing two bears growling at each other along Highway 37 near Stewart, B.C.

vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive again on Oct. 21 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich on Oct. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Search continues for bear wandering through Saanich

Bear spotted eating garbage near Elk Lake Wednesday, B.C. Conservation says

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters already casting their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
More than 10,000 voters have cast advance ballots in Saanich North and Islands

Only two ridings, one of them on Vancouver Island, have seen more advance voting

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Tree-pruning community gathers in Oak Bay after tragic death

Crews met in solidarity at site of Tuesday incident

Some 30 people including a dozen youth participated in North Saanich’s first ever Fridays for Future protest outside of municipal hall on Mills Road Friday, according to organizers. (Anne-Marie Daniel/Submitted)
Fridays for Future plans second event for North Saanich after inaugural protest

Some 30 people attended first protest on Oct. 9 with a second one scheduled for Oct. 23

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry presents modelling of COVID-19 spread in B.C., March 25, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 203 new cases

up to 1,766 active cases in B.C., two more deaths

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
British Columbia man dies during ski trip near glacier west of Calgary

Kananaskis Public Safety and Alpine Helicopters responded around 2:30 p.m.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, following a week-long break for the House of Commons. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
One crisis after another for Trudeau since last federal election one year ago

It has been a year of unprecedented calamity and crisis

Members of the Sipekne’katik First Nation load lobster traps on the wharf in Saulnierville, N.S., after launching its own self-regulated fishery on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Vancouver Island First Nations back Nova Scotia’s Indigenous lobster fishermen

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council calls for action before lives are lost

Skiers line up to start the Royal LePage Comox Valley Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race. Photo by Tim Penney
Popular Comox Valley adventure race cancelled for 2021

COVID forces Comox Valley Royal LePage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race cancellation again

Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter at Kitimat competes against producers in the Middle East and Russia that have no carbon tax. (Rio Tinto)
B.C. carbon tax highest in Canada, export industries unprotected

B.C. NDP, B.C. Liberals say they’re looking at exemptions

(Pixabay)
Vancouver teacher suspended after swearing, touching students and complimenting underwear

McCabe touched students, including rubbing their backs and necks, touching their hair and hugging them

Most Read