With 2021 coming to a close, the Energeticcity newsroom decided to compile the year’s top stories.
Here are the top stories of 2021 between October to December:
A former self-described anti-vaxxer, Dwayne Binette, pleaded with the community to get their COVID-19 vaccines after his pregnant wife was forced to battle the virus while on life support. Doctors gave her a 10 per cent chance of surviving.
Binette’s wife, Krystal, returned home near the end of November after being in a hospital bed since Thanksgiving. Krystal was in a month-long medically induced coma and gave birth through an emergency c-section during this time.
The little one was born prematurely on October 23rd, weighing in at just over three pounds. As of December 2nd, she was in the newborn intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia.
The following stories detail Krystal’s battle as Binette frequently gave Energeticcity updates during this time:
A BC Conservation Officer Service investigation near Fort Nelson led to the seizure of 300 lbs of moose meat in the lower mainland.
Officers say the investigation into the illegally shot moose is ongoing, and charges in the case are pending.
According to the BC COS, seized meat is usually donated to a food bank, community shelter, or local First Nation.
In a traffic stop near Prince George, the Service stopped 249 hunters and checked numerous moose, bear, deer, grouse and trout.
They issued 12 warnings as well as five violation tickets for infractions, including loaded firearms and transporting wildlife contrary to regulations.
The BC COS also teamed up with the BC RCMP in a traffic stop outside Fort St. John.
About 236 people went through the stop, which included 84 hunters. BC COS issued three violation tickets and five warnings. They also seized eight firearms and a stone sheep.
Fort St. John RCMP looked to clarify some public misconceptions following a post on Facebook.
On October 15th, just before 1 p.m., police received a report of an unwanted person at a business located at 100th Avenue and 96th Street.
“Fort St. John RCMP attended and located the man sitting on the sidewalk at the store entrance with his personal belongings around him. While frontline police officers were speaking with the man, members of the public also attended the store and shared their perspective of what was going on by sharing their opinion, video and photos on Facebook,” read an RCMP release.
Constable Chad Neustaeter, Media Relations Officer for Fort St. John RCMP, said it would be appropriate to describe what was actually occurring. He says this same individual has been arrested for Mischief, Loss of Enjoyment to Property after the property owner reported the individual for busking, panhandling and making customers feel uncomfortable in late September.
The business owner knew the man had a court condition not to attend the property, and knowing the individual was breaching conditions of his release, called police.
“In this instance, a new frontline police officer to Fort St John was given the opportunity to work through the investigation process and was conducting police checks to determine if there were in fact conditions and what those conditions were in order to make an educated decision that was in everyone’s best interest,” said Neustaeter.
The author of the social media post asked the question, ‘what are we paying them for?’ Neustaeter says officers were conducting a full investigation on behalf of the complainant.
“During the investigation, the man was apologetic to police. The lead investigating officer exercised discretion and released the man who said he would leave. The business was updated accordingly and were satisfied with the actions of police.”
Neustaeter says there is often more than meets the eye of the public when it comes to policing.
“In this case, the public also did not get a chance to see the conclusion when the man walked away and the business owner was satisfied.”
Provincial health officials announced new circuit breaker restrictions on October 14th to curb COVID-19 transmission in the north.
The restrictions were to remain in effect until November 19th but were revised and extended until at least January 31st, 2022.
“We are enabling this circuit breaker to save lives,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry during the COVID-19 update.
“We are doing this to stop transmission where it is greatest and that is those indoor gatherings where we are coming together where we’re not necessarily wearing masks, where we’re mixing with unvaccinated people and this is where we’re seeing spread.”
The province also encouraged residents in the north to stay within their community unless necessary.
A crash on October 29th took a 39-year-old woman’s life after she was ejected from the vehicle.
Emergency crews were notified of a single-vehicle crash on 271 Road, north of Fort St. John.
Police say when emergency crews arrived, they located a vehicle that had rolled over, and one person was ejected from the vehicle.
The 39-year-old woman was pronounced deceased at the scene, and the investigation is ongoing.
As flooding and weather conditions in the southern regions of the province closed roads and highways, many residents were concerned about mail and food delivery.
Phil Legault, a media representative with Canada Post, said he knows this is a difficult situation.
“We understand the impact this difficult situation is having on many people in B.C., and we are working hard to put contingency plans in place to restore or maintain postal services,” says Legault.
“Canada Post issued a red delivery service alert for Merritt, B.C., and a yellow service alert for Western Canada.”
Mail delivery disruptions will be posted on the Canada Post website as well.
The road closures could also disrupt any special delivery packages, like Amazon, or goods being delivered for stores.
For grocery stores in the area, community members have expressed worry of others “panic buying.”
A few grocery store managers in Fort St. John told Energeticcity that most items come from warehouses in Alberta. One manager says there may be some items that will be delayed making it to stores but not enough to be of notice to shoppers.
Robert Boelens with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, said in an email to Energeticcity that “Ministry staff have been reaching out to agricultural producer groups to assess impacts and are working closely with them to see where assistance is most needed and what the ministry can to do to help.”
One person is dead after a collision on the Alaska Highway.
On Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021, at approximately 3:40 p.m., Fort St John RCMP, BC Ambulance Service and Taylor Fire Department responded to a two vehicle collision on the Alaska Highway (Highway 97) at Pingle Creek Road south of Taylor, BC. Occupants of both vehicles were reported to be trapped at the time of the initial report.
Emergency crews located a Jeep and a Dodge pickup that had collided head-on and were blocking the highway.
The drivers of both vehicles required extrication from their vehicles. The driver of the Jeep was transported to the Fort St John Hospital but was pronounced deceased a brief time after arrival. The driver of the pickup truck was also transported to hospital by police.
The highway was closed for about two hours while BC Highway Patrol and the RCMP Traffic Reconstructionist conducted an on scene investigation.
Dawson Creek resident, Bruce Robar, was enjoying a cup of coffee when he found out he won $1 million Guaranteed Prize from the October 13th Lotto 6/49 draw.
“I saw there was a big winner in Dawson Creek and I couldn’t stop looking at the ticket,” Robar recalled.
Robar purchased his ticket at Spikes Pub on 10th Street, winning the big prize on a Quick Pick ticket.
He couldn’t wait to share the news with his daughter.
“She didn’t believe me at first. She was at work when I told her and she had to try her hardest to keep quiet because she was so happy for me,” Robar exclaimed.
An avalanche in the Chetwynd area left one person dead.
Four snowmobilers were in the Sunshine Bowl in the Hasler riding area on November 27th, when one triggered a slide catching three others in an avalanche, according to Avalanche Canada.
Two of the snowmobilers were partially buried and were self rescued, while one was fully buried and did not survive the encounter.
Avalanche Canada listed the avalanche as a size 3.
A fundraiser was created to alleviate potential stress on the family of a 14-year-old boy who is set to have emergency back surgery.
In a GoFundMe fundraising page created December 12th, Trish Baker says her sister, Mandy Gallant, received a call the week prior about her son Devin’s surgery. Rods will be installed in his back due to scoliosis caused by Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
Devin was diagnosed with SMA, a genetic condition that causes muscle weakness and atrophy, when he was only three years old and has been in a wheelchair ever since.
Devin was supposed to have surgery on December 2nd, however, it was rescheduled a couple of times this month. The new surgery date is set for January 27th.
A GoFundMe has been created after the unexpected passing of Meghan Brookes on December 19th for her 13-year-old son, and husband, who is currently battling cancer.
Brookes’ husband, Chris, was in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and started chemotherapy again at the end of November after doctors found a lump.
“[He] has a long road ahead of him, now without his partner by his side, while raising his son alone,” read the GoFund Me page organized by Nicole Marshall.
Marshall describes Brookes as ” down-to-earth, genuine love, care and compassion could lift you up and make you feel a million times better.”
“Meghan was truly unlike anyone we have ever known, and we can’t imagine this world without her in it. Our hearts are shattered. She was such a bright light, and it’s unimaginable that she is not here with us now,” wrote Marshall.
Fort St. John product and former Fort St. John Huskies player Scott Ford got called up from the Milwaukee Admirals to help coach the Nashville Predators.
The Nashville Predators have been battling with COVID-19 protocols all month long like most of the NHL. Earlier this month, six players and four coaches were placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
Ford has been an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League since the 2015-2016 season. Before that, he played 11 seasons of professional hockey, including more than five seasons with the Admirals.
Before he became a pro, Ford played four years for the Brown Bears in the NCAA, winning an award in 2003-2004 for the Best Defensive Defenseman in the ECAC conference.
WorkSafe BC handed out five fines worth over $685,000 to Fort St. John worksites so far this year.
Canfor was fined $674,445.93 on January 7th for “high-risk violations, and repeated violations based on violations that had occurred at other locations of this firm.”
After a worker was injured, the company allegedly failed to report to WorkSafe in a timely manner. An inspection of the planer bridge where the worker was injured showed it was not adequately safeguarded.
There were also no security measures in place to stop a worker from accessing the planer while in operation.
WorkSafe also found excessive amounts of secondary wood dust on surfaces in the planer room. An inspection took place prior to the planer bridge incident where WorkSafe reported large amounts of primary and secondary wood dust in several areas, including near potential ignition sources.
“The firm failed to ensure its combustible wood dust management program was followed, and failed to ensure the health and safety of all workers at its worksite,” says WorkSafe BC.
A request for review of the penalties has been received.
Eneldo’s Construction Ltd. was handed a $2,500 fine on January 26th after two workers were seen without fall protection equipment will reshingling the roof of a house.
“No other form of fall protection was in place, exposing the workers to a fall risk of up to 4.9 m (16 ft.). The firm failed to ensure fall protection was used, a repeated and high-risk violation.”
FST Donair was fined $5,000 on April 22nd for obstructing a WorkSafe officer inspection and for failing to provide all means to facilitate an inspection.
WorkSafe arrived at the restaurant for an inspection after complaints of restricted tobacco smoking taking place at the workplace, according to WorkSafe. An employee was seen trying to get rid of evidence before allowing the WorkSafe officer to conduct an inspection.
Industrial Surplus Supplies was fined $2,935.88 on April 26th for failing to have a qualified inspection done before allowing demolition work to take place.
WorkSafe found vermiculite, a suspected asbestos-containing material (ACM), had been disturbed when demolition work began. WorkSafe deemed this a high-risk violation as no hazardous materials survey was conducted.
Another firm, 1245160 B.C., was fined $2,500 after a worker was installing a sloped roof on a house without fall protection equipment.
“The firm failed to ensure fall protection was used, a repeated and high-risk violation.”
BC Hydro is calling the completion of the roller-compacted concrete program at Site C in October a major milestone.
The program started in 2017, and since then, three large buttresses, or foundations, that support the powerhouse, spillways and the dam have been built utilizing 1.68 million cubic metres of roller-compacted concrete.
In an update earlier this week, BC Hydro says the buttresses are a key component of the dam’s design, measuring approximately 800 metres long and up to 70 metres wide combined.
The foundations ensure the stability of the dam structures, including in the unlikely event of a major earthquake, said BC Hydro.
“Roller-compacted concrete has many properties similar to conventional concrete, but is constructed with a placement method that makes it well suited for large-scale dam construction. This concrete was manufactured on-site and then transported by trucks to the buttresses.”
The powerhouse buttress was completed in 2018, the upper spillway buttress in fall 2019, and the dam and core buttress in October 2021.
BC Hydro says the buttresses form the second-largest concrete structure in B.C., after its Revelstoke Dam, and the largest roller-compacted concrete dam structure in Canada.
The total volume of the Site C buttress is six times the volume of concrete used to build the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest building in the world.
A resident of Totem II apartment complex in Fort St. John says, after weeks without a working boiler to heat units and a particularly cold Christmas, she’s getting little help from the property manager.
Lori Beech says she started to notice her unit was cool on December 3rd, and by December 4th, there was no heat coming from her radiator.
She asked some neighbours on other floors if they were cold, and they had the same problem.
“That was the Sunday, and I called Action Property and said, I’m cold,” said Beech. “I never received a phone call back. On Monday, I get home from work and there’s a note on the door saying the boiler went out. It’s not that you don’t have heat, you have some heat.”
Beech says residents on other floors started noticing their balcony doors were frosted over, something she says is dangerous.
“If there was a fire in the hallway, they’re not getting out because the balconies don’t open.”
When it got down to near minus 40, Beech says tenants were tempted to use their ovens to heat their units or buy additional space heaters at their own expense.
“I phoned and asked if they would give us a break on the rent because heat is included in our rent. I was flat out told no. Then I asked, what about our hydro bills because I have to keep my oven running and run these heaters.”
Beech says the property manager told her if her heat or electricity bill went up, she could bring it in and Action would see what they could do in January.
“None of us are rolling in money. There’s a lot of foreign people that don’t want to say anything because they’re scared of getting evicted. I ask if they’re cold, and they say yes, but they can’t afford a heater and don’t want to say anything.”
Beech says she saw the maintenance person at the building the other day, and when she asked when the new boiler would arrive, the maintenance person said it’s already arrived.
“He’s like, it’s here, but they just don’t have anyone to put it in. He said the timeframe looks like sometime next week.”
Beech says it’s frustrating that the boiler is there, but no preparations were made to get it installed promptly.
“In the last letter, they’re like, as soon as it gets here, someone will put it in. I’m thinking, it’s Christmas now. The boiler’s here, they should have been on it and organized and had someone, even though it’s December 23rd, ready and waiting there.”
“I don’t make lots of money, but I work. I could just go somewhere else, but the point is, I shouldn’t have to move from this apartment.”
Energeticcity reached out to Action Property Management near the beginning of December after hearing reports of boiler problems in the building.
On December 29th, Action owner Wanda Smook said she would reach out to speak with Energeticcity after getting “some definite answers”.