Here are some of the top stories for readers in Greater Victoria in 2022.
Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96
The news of Queen Elizabeth II’s death was tough to hear for many in Greater Victoria and around the world.
The longest-serving British monarch’s passing was announced by Buckingham Palace on social media on Sept. 8. She was 96.
King Charles III was officially proclaimed as Britain’s monarch on Sept. 10. Charles automatically became king when Elizabeth died.
Flags across the region were lowered to mark the death of the Canadian head of state.
Local MP Elizabeth May said in an interview with Black Press Media at the time that Queen Elizabeth II lived what she called an “extraordinary life of duty and service,” which saw her deal with countless unexpected events beyond her control, starting with the abdication of her uncle, which made her beloved father king, only then to follow him at the mere age of 25. “As a human being, there are few people who are as admirable as our late Queen. She was extraordinary. I’m sure her death is touching millions of people around the world, who feel they have lost a family member.”
The Queen served as a patron to many Canadian organizations, including the Royal B.C. Museum.
“Her presence touched entire generations of Canadian families, who watched her grow from the teenage Princess who trained as a mechanic with the Auxiliary Territorial Service during WWII, to the young Queen who charmed crowds on her many tours throughout the country, to a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother many times over,” wrote B.C. Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin in a statement.
Elizabeth was also hosted several times at Government House in Victoria, including in 1994, when she officially dedicated the newly revived gardens of the estate.
“Her unwavering service to the people of the Commonwealth earned Her Majesty the respect and admiration of Canadians,” Austin wrote. “She, in turn, loved Canada dearly and travelled here on more occasions than any other country in the world. Over the course of her 22 visits to Canada, she came to British Columbia seven times, visiting communities throughout the province from Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert.”
Greater Victoria residents paid their respects on Sept. 19 as a series of events took place to coincide with the official state funeral in the U.K.
The provincial government followed the lead of the federal government to observe the national day of mourning to mark the Queen’s funeral.
Greater Victoria votes: 2022 election
Greater Victoria saw multiple new mayors and councillors elected in the Oct. 15 municipal election.
Four out of the six municipalities which had an incumbent mayor facing a challenger saw the incumbent lose.
In the Langoford mayoral race, Scott Goodmanson came out on top with 53.1 per cent of the vote over long-serving mayor Stew Young. Young was the community’s mayor since December 1993.
Langford Now slate members Kimberley Guiry, Colby Harder, Mark Morley, Mary Wagner and Keith Yacucha were all elected as councillors.
Lillian Szpak ran as an independent and was the only incumbent to keep her seat.
Denise Blackwell had been serving on council since Langford’s first election in 1992 but also lost her seat running as an independent.
View Royal’s council also changed as Sid Tobias defeated David Screech to be the next mayor.
Tobias won with 1,291 votes, and Screech had 1,055. Screech was first elected to council in 2002 and became mayor in 2014.
Damian Kowalewich, John Rogers, Alison MacKenzie, Ron Mattson, Gery Lemon and Don Brown joined Tobias on council.
Judy Estrin was the only council candidate who wasn’t elected.
After more than a decade on council, Marianne Alto ascended to become the mayor of Victoria, securing 55 per cent of all the ballots cast.
Out of the 37 council candidates, Jeremy Caradonna, Susan Kim, Matt Dell, Krista Loughton, Dave Thompson, Stephen Hammond, Marg Gardiner and former councillor Christopher Coleman were elected.
Terri O’Keeffe, Sara Duncan, Chad Rintoul and Scott Garnett all returned to the council table in Sidney. Steve Duck and Richard Novek were the only non-incumbent councillors elected.
Eric Diller, Cam McLennan and former mayor Steve Price failed in their bids.
Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith was acclaimed.
Dean Murdock won a nail-biter in the race for Saanich mayor with 13,631 votes, narrowly beating incumbent Fred Haynes, who finished with 13,479.
Newcomers Mena Westhaver and Teale Phelps Bondaroff joined incumbents Colin Plant, Susan Brice, Zac de Vries, Judy Brownoff, Nathalie Chambers and Karen Harper on council.
Peter Jones became the mayor of North Saanich after defeating Nancy Borden and former councillor Murray Weisenberger.
Incumbents Jack McClintock, Brett Smyth and Celia Stock, as well as non-incumbents Irene McConkey, Phil DiBattista and Sanjiv Shrivastava rounded out the slate of winning candidates.
Newcomer Sarah Riddell topped the polls for council in Central Saanich and joined five incumbent councillors and Mayor Ryan Windsor at the council table. Windsor won by acclamation.
Niall Paltiel, Zeb King, Bob Thompson, Gord Newton and Christopher Graham were the returning councillors.
Carrie Smart and Lesley Watson were the two new councillors elected in Oak Bay.
Incumbents Cairine Green, Hazel Braithwaite, Andrew Appleton and Esther Paterson joined Smart and Watson on council.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch was acclaimed.
Barb Desjardins kept her seat as mayor of Esquimalt, beating challenger Sonya Gracey.
The elected councillors were Duncan Cavens, Tim Morrison, Darlene Rotchford, Andrea Boardman, Jacob Helliwell and Ken Armour.
Chris Munkacsi was the lone council candidate who ran unsuccessfully.
Doug Kobayashi became Colwood’s mayor with a victory over incumbent Rob Martin.
Kobayashi had served as a councillor for four years and was be joined by newly elected councillors David Grove, Ian Ward, Misty Olse and Kim Jordison.
Cynthia Day and Dean Jantzen were also re-elected.
Highlands voters ran it back as every incumbent returned to office.
Councillors Karel Roessingh, Gord Baird, Ann Baird, Leslie Anderson, Rose Stanton and Marcie McLean all kept their seats, and Mayor Ken Williams was acclaimed.
Maja Tait won her third term as Sooke mayor and received 72 per cent of the vote.
The five incumbents running for re-election got the thumbs up, with Dana Lajeunesse, Jeff Bateman, Megan McMath, Al Beddows and Tony St-Pierre retaining their seats.
Former councillor Kevin Pearson won the other seat.
Marie-Terese Little was elected as Metchosin’s new mayor with 51.7 per cent of the vote, after beating out Kyara Kahakauwila, who got 47.5 per cent.
Little and Kahakauwila served during the previous term as councillors.
Little was joined on council by newcomers Steve Gray, Jay Shukin and Shelly Donaldson. Incumbent Sharie Epp rounded out the group.
Tough times for BC Ferries
Crew shortages were a lingering issue for BC Ferries and many sailings were cancelled throughout 2022, leaving thousands of travellers stranded.
“Crewing is a complex, logistical task that considers the individual’s qualifications and the number of skilled mariners required for the various roles onboard each vessel, as well as where they live and work,” BC Ferries said in a statement on Jan. 10. “Even a small number of crew that are unavailable to sail can have a significant impact on service if replacements are challenging to find.”
Compounding the crew challenges, the company said in March, were changing travel patterns coming out of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with a busier spring and fall as people looked to travel following two years of restrictions while avoiding the traditional peak summer season.
“The flow of travellers off Vancouver Island in slow travel periods is also an emerging trend.”
B.C. Ferries eventually fired its president and CEO in July. The ferry company decided to end Mark Collins’s contract and appoint Jill Sharland as interim president and CEO.
Collins was with BC Ferries since 2004 and had been CEO since 2017.
“Like many organizations, BC Ferries has faced recent staffing shortages, service interruptions and COVID-related challenges,” said Joy MacPhail, board chairperson, in a press release on July 22. “There are no quick fixes to these systemic challenges but as a board, we believe it is time for renewal, fresh ideas and a renewed commitment to the highest standards of customer service, safety and affordability.”
Recent sailings between Greater Victoria and the Lower Mainland have also been longer than normal.
The Coastal Celebration has not sailed through Active Pass since Oct. 23, but south of the area through East Point, adding about 15 minutes to the trip.
The decision was made because engineers found an issue with one of the drive motors on the ship.
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