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

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

Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hills using a homemade trip camera. Vancouver Island is home to approximately 800 cougars, which makes up about a quarter of the total population in B.C. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Wildlife advocate Gary Schroyen captured this picture of a one-year-old cougar in the Sooke Hill using a homemade trip camera. Schroyen presents Animal Signs: The Essence of Animal Communication on Nov. 30. (Gary Schroyen photo)
Declining Vancouver Island cougar populations linked to wolves

Large carnivore specialist says human development still plays biggest role on cougar numbers

SD62 has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. (Black Press Media file photo)
SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Feb. 22-24

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon to listen to speakers decry COVID-19 restrictions. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Victoria residents protest masks, COVID-19 restrictions

Approximately 100 people gathered in Centennial Square Saturday afternoon

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A cross-country skier glides along the banks of the Ottawa River in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Canadians across the country can look forward to a mild spring peppered with the odd winter flashback throughout the first part of the season, according to predictions from one prominent national forecaster. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Mild spring with some wintry blasts predicted for most of Canada: Weather Network

Weather Network is forecasting a slower than average start to spring in British Columbia

AstraZeneca’s vaccines are ready for use at the vaccination center in Apolda, Germany, Sunday, Feb.28, 2021. (Michael Reichel/dpa via AP)
Feds hoping for AstraZeneca shots this week as Pfizer-BioNTech prepare next delivery

The first of those doses could start to arrive in Canada as early as Wednesday

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)

Most Read