The Treasure Island course at Paradise Mini Golf backs onto a ravine where owner Susan LaFouci suspects an unidentified substance may have wafted up from. - Emily Vance photo

Strange smell evacuates Parksville mini golf course

Waft of unknown substance caused people to cough, choke

Webb Anderson was playing mini golf July 21 with his family of six in Parksville, when something strange happened.

Anderson says they were on hole 7 or 8 on the Treasure Island course at Paradise Mini Golf when he noticed the father and daughter of the family playing ahead of them become unwell.

“He started looking at me really strange as I was waiting for him to play through his hole. He’s looking at me, he’s going like – ‘man the pollen around here is terrible,’” said Anderson.

“He starts coughing and sneezing, his face is all red. He’s like ‘man I have to get out of here, I have to get out of here,” And immediately his kid started doing the same thing,” said Anderson.

ALSO READ: Stink at B.C. school prompts complaints of headaches, nausea

He thought they were joking at first, but it still looked like they were in trouble, so he headed towards the little girl to try and help her.

“As soon as I took like two steps, it started affecting me… the first thing that crossed my mind was ‘These guys are not lying, there’s something in the air,’” said Anderson.

“I turned around, I was looking at my kids, and my kids are starting to cough and choke and act funny. My littlest one, she was starting to barf… I was just like ‘man, we have to get out of here.’”

Anderson has no idea what it was, but said the sensation was palpable and overwhelming. Every time he went to breathe, he couldn’t, and would start coughing.

“It didn’t seem to taste like anything, it didn’t seem to smell like anything… all of a sudden you just couldn’t breathe. You go to breathe in, and it was like you were breathing sand down your throat, and your throat just closed up. It was a weird sort of a panicky sort of sensation,” said Anderson.

Paradise Mini Golf owner Susan LaFouci was there and said she smelled it as well.

Although Anderson describes it as an odourless gas, LaFouci says she smelled something she can’t describe.

“It wasn’t very nice. It took your breath away,” said LaFouci.

The staff evacuated all the affected areas, checked the facilities for any kind of leak and found nothing out of the ordinary.

ALSO READ: Teachers worried after 12 gas leaks in 3 months at B.C. elementary school

LaFouci says nothing like this has ever happened at Paradise before. She thinks it was something that wafted in off the highway or from a nearby ravine, and also wondered if it was something thrown from a passing vehicle.

“We checked everything, and it was nothing from here. I think it was just somebody with nothing better to do. Somebody being stupid,” said LaFouci.

Both Anderson and LaFouci agreed it didn’t cause the same symptoms as bear spray, which Anderson says many of the other mini-golfers suspected.

After about half an hour, Anderson says families returned to other areas of Paradise. About an hour after the incident, people returned to playing on the Treasure Island course.

The NEWS reached out to the City of Parksville, the Oceanside RCMP and Fortis BC. None reported any related leaks or complaints at the time of the incident.

emily.vance@pqbnews.com

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

South Vancouver Island B.C. Hydro Customers without power

Due to high winds nearly 3,900 B.C. Hydro customer will be out of power

Sidney signs off on 2020 budget with 1.79 per cent tax increase

Budget also includes additional funding for Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea

Search begins for two missing scouts near Sooke

Crews headed to Jordan River area after receiving call just after 2 p.m.

Scaffolding falls due to strong winds at Millstream Village Sunday afternoon

No injuries or vehicles damaged, according to West Shore RCMP

Cold water swimming a morning ritual for Willows Beach crew

Group turned heads when they slow-walked into the Polar Plunge

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Still six cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite reports of Air Canada passenger: ministry

Health ministry wouldn’t comment on specific flight routes

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

VIDEO: Wounded Warrior Run leaves Port Hardy on eight-day trek down Vancouver island

The team’s fundraising goal this year is $250,000, which is double last year’s goal.

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Most Read