Here are 2019’s most-read stories from saanichnews.com.
Topping the list is a story that pulled at the heartstrings of our readers.
Chelsea Wakelyn posted to Facebook, requesting help tracking down a band she and her late fiancé, Kris Noesgaard, stumbled upon one late night in 2011 as the group performed George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” in an underground parking lot in Saanich. The group was filming the performance and Wakelyn, who’s tried several times to seek out the footage on her own, hoped to find the video.
“I remember at least thinking and probably said out loud, ‘Is this real life that we stumbled upon a band in the middle of the night playing in an empty, underground parking lot?’ I imagine if there is any audio or video, it would probably have captured our disbelief and delight,” she said. “It was such a magical thing, really.”
Noesgaard died in 2015, and the memory has since gained new importance for Wakelyn.
“I never would have suspected that it would come to have this kind of meaning that it does to me,” she said.
The community came together to mourn the death of a 13-year-old Saanich student, who died after being struck by a tree while on a field trip near Sooke.
Two Grade 8 Lansdowne Middle School students were injured, the other received treatment for non-life threatening injuries.
“It’s an incredibly tragic event,” said Shelley Green, School District 61 superintendent. “We certainly extend our condolences to the family, and [we] want to let them know that our hearts are with them.”
Green said the incident remains raw but added that the school would launch a full investigation to find out what happened. With one week left in the school year, the focus remained on supporting the family and the school community at large.
A conviction in a 32-year-old cold case brought some closure for local residents.
A Snohomish County judge sentenced William Talbott II to life in prison without parole for murdering a young Saanich couple in 1987.
Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg’s killer evaded capture for three decades, until DNA revealed a suspect through his family tree, in what was a pioneering investigation.
The pair were killed on an overnight trip from Greater Victoria to south Seattle. Baffling gaps remain in the timelines of the killings. Cook, 20, was found dead under a bridge south of Monroe while Van Cuylenborg, 18, was found in rural Skagit County.
A long-awaited break came in 2018, when a private forensic lab plugged crime scene DNA — from semen on a pair of pants — into a public ancestry bank, GEDMatch. Second cousins on both sides of Talbott’s family had shared genetic profiles in the database. The suspect’s family lines intersected in the marriage of a Woodinville couple. Talbott was their only son.
Two more tests confirmed his DNA matched the semen found at the crime scene. Talbott, 56, has maintained his innocence.
A developing provincial story with far-reaching impacts also caught the attention of our readers.
The B.C. government is planning to bring in legislation to move to daylight saving time year-round, Premier John Horgan says, but when and if that takes effect still depends on what U.S. decide.
Horgan made the comment after a meeting with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver in Whitehorse back in September. The two premiers agreed that it’s important that West Coast jurisdictions stay synchronized in their time zones, and Silver said he will watch B.C.’s progress closely.
Rounding out the top stories of the year is a Saanich resident who was ordered to pay two $200 tickets for two days of excess noise, which one neighbour testified sounded like a “growler jet” coming from her property on Old East Road in Saanich in May 2018.
Nancy Kinney told the courts she didn’t dispute the noise complaints but stated the noise was a normal farm practice and asserted she was protected under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act. Kinney didn’t present any evidence, nor did she testify at the hearing on Oct. 16.
The Farm Protection Act states any sound of noise caused by farming activity carried out in a reasonable manner on farmland between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. is exempt from bylaws.
Judicial Justice Hunter Gordon wrote in a judgment posted online, that there was no evidence Kinney has a farm business and ordered the payment.