News

Langley's year in review — January to June

By winning an online sweepstakes, Kamren Loof-Cote, 11, brought his prize to his school in February. Marcus Trufant, a cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks, visited Marcus’ class at H.D. Stafford Middle School, then addressed the students in the gym. - Langley Times file photo
By winning an online sweepstakes, Kamren Loof-Cote, 11, brought his prize to his school in February. Marcus Trufant, a cornerback with the Seattle Seahawks, visited Marcus’ class at H.D. Stafford Middle School, then addressed the students in the gym.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Editor’s note — This is a look back at the first six months 2011.

 

January

• The Fort IGA store, a landmark in the community, was destroyed in an early-morning fire on Jan. 4. The fire started after a break-in attempt. Fort Langley residents have no other full-service grocery store in the community. A new store will be built on the site, but construction only started in November.

 

• Langley City firefighter Ron Dunkley died in a Seattle hospital on Jan. 4, 60 days after he was hit by a train while crossing the tracks on the Seattle waterfront. That he survived the impact of the collision with the train at all was amazing, but many more amazing things happened while he was in hospital, his mother Sandy Dunkley told The Times.

A large memorial service, which featured a tribute from City Mayor Peter Fassbender and was attended by hundreds of firefighters from all over the Lower Mainland and Washington state, took place at Christian Life Assembly on Jan. 11.

 

• Cecelia Reekie was elected a trustee on the Langley Board of Education, filling the Township seat vacated by Joan Bech, in a Jan. 15 byelection. Voter turnout was very low — just four per cent of eligible voters came out to the polls. Reekie is the first person of aboriginal background to be elected to the board. She was re-elected in the Nov. 19 general election.

 

• A Langley school bus driver was killed in a terrible crash in the 19800 block of 16 Avenue, while he was on his way to work. Jim Neiss, 59, was driving a Ford Explorer that was hit by a tandem dump truck that other drivers had reported was being driven erratically. The crash took place just after 5:30 a.m. Langley RCMP have recommended a charge against the truck driver, a 62-year-old Burnaby man.

 

• Christy Clark was the first of the candidates for the BC Liberal leadership to pay a public visit to Langley, which had been mostly ignored by the candidates. She and her friend Pamela Martin, who was assisting in her campaign, held an open mike session at McBurney’s Coffee and Tea House in Langley City.  Late in the campaign, Kevin Falcon also paid a low-key visit to Langley. Clark won the leadership over Falcon, whom she later appointed as minister of finance.

 

• Two men were charged with first-degree murder in the gangland shooting of Kevin LeClair in February, 2009, at a busy Walnut Grove shopping mall. Charged in the murder were Conor D’Monte, 33, of Vancouver, who was described by police as head of the UN Gang, a rival to the Red Scorpions that LeClair was associated with. The second man charged was UN Gang associate Cory Vallee, 32, of no fixed address. Both men remain at large and have not been captured by police.

 

• The RCMP criminal crime unit was probing activities of Township Mayor Rick Green, in connection with an ongoing dispute between the mayor and most of the rest of council.

Eventually, the police conclusions were passed on to a special prosecutor, who declined to bring forward any charges.

February

 

• Langley Township council approved the Athenry Development on the northeast corner of 83 Avenue and 208 Street, 30 months after a public hearing. The proposal includes general houses, homes for seniors, retail stores, an Irish Cultural Centre and the relocation and restoration of the Willoughby Community Hall. Upset residents living nearby the development announced they would take legal action. Six residents opposed to the development later petitioned the B.C. Supreme Court in March to overturn Langley Township council’s official endorsement.

 

• Hearing impaired ringette player Elizabeth Dagg earned a spot on Team B.C.’s ringette squad for the Canada Winter Games. Despite being deaf, she overcame the tough odds of her disability to excel at the game and become an elite player.

 

• On Feb. 9 a pilot from Langley and his passenger were killed after two planes collided near Mission. Don Hubble, 60, and his passenger, 70-year-old Patrick Lobsinger of Surrey, were flying in a diamond formation in a training area when the accident occurred.

A Transportation Safety Board investigator said the plane was rear-ended by Pitt Meadows pilot Paul Knapp. Hubble’s plane crashed in a slough near the Fraser River but Knapp was able to make an emergency landing in a field. It is now being reported that Hubble’s wife, Patti Hubble, is suing Knapp. She claims that negligence on his part caused or contributed to the accident.

 

• Davey Butorac was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parol for 23 years for the second degree murders of 46-year-old Gwendolyn Jo Lawton in March of 2007 and 50-year-old Sheryl Lynn Koroll four months later. According to the prosecutor, both women were vulnerable sex trade workers forced onto the street by drug problems. The Crown compared Butorac to serial killer Robert Pickton and wanted him to serve the maximum penalty of life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. The defence asked for a lesser sentence of 20 to 22 years before parole.

 

• On Feb. 18, 12-year-old Coleton Nelson was killed when the car he was traveling in collided with a garbage truck. Both the driver, his 18-year-old cousin, and the passenger, a 12-year-old friend, survived. The Grade 7 student at North Otter Elementary is remembered for his avid love of hockey. He had played for three Aldergrove teams including the peewee Aldergrove Chiefs, the bantam Aldergrove Bruins and the peewee Bruins rep team as an affiliate player.

 

• Seattle Seahawks defensive back Marcus Trufant accompanied 12-year-old Kamren Loof-Cote to school in a black limousine after the Grade 7 student at H.D. Stafford Middle school won an online contest. Trufant then spoke to the students at Stafford in a special assembly about working towards your dreams, finding success and preventing bullying.

 

• Christy Clark won the Liberal Leadership, beating former cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong. On Feb. 26, it took three rounds of ballots from the 90,000 members of the B.C. Liberal Party to select Clark as Gordon Campbell’s replacement.

 

March

 

• A coroner’s inquest ruled 49-year-old Frank Frechette died of severe blood loss from a punctured lung after stabbing himself and jumping out of a two-storey building. It was undetermined if the shock from taser darts fired at him by police following the September, 2008 incident played any part in his death.

According to his girlfriend Trina Toffan, the incident occurred when Frechette became irrational after he robbed a Brookswood bank that day only to discover the money had been booby trapped with an exploding pack of dye.

He tried to scrub the dye off, then stabbed himself in the chest before leaping through the window. He was Tasered by an RCMP officer after he ignored police commands to surrender and tried to re-enter the house.

 

• A new dance club for teens ages 14-18 hit sour notes with neighbours, who complained of noise, profanity, public drunkenness and open drug use among the teenage patrons. Vancouver’s Ultimate Dance Club, located in the former Legion building on Eastleigh Crescent, opened its doors on March 4 as a place for teens to dance and hang out with their friends on Friday and Saturday nights.

• On March 12, over 300 anti-human trafficking activists braved the rain and marched through Langley City in a Freedom March led by Miss Canada, Tara Teng. Afterwards a rally was held in Douglas Park to talk about modern slavery both locally and internationally. Teng’s goal is to raise public awareness of the issue and ultimately abolish human trafficking.

 

• After walking away with silver medals the year before, the Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball team captured the gold in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship with a win in three straight sets over the Brandon Bobcats. Seeded fourth at the eight-team national championships, Trinity Western beat fifth-ranked Alberta with five sets in the quarter-finals and then another five sets against top-ranked Calgary in the semifinals.

 

• On March 7, Kwantlen elder George Anton was shot to death in his home on McMillan Island, stunning the entire Kwantlen community of 90 people in Fort Langley. The 71-year-old was born on McMillan Island and sent to a residential school when he was seven years old. In an interview with The Times, he had said “it was real sad the way they treated us” at the residential schools. He remembered the food being terrible and kids trying to run away. When he finally left, he became a logger and fisherman. He continued to fish for the remainder of his life.  His murder remains unsolved.

 

• On March 11, a 9.0 magnitude quake in Japan sent 10-metre  waves as far as 10 kilometres inland, wiping out entire communities and killing thousands. Langley resident Masami Yakata was one of many Japanese Canadians frantically trying to track down family and friends in Japan following the disaster. It took her about 30 minutes to get through and confirm her family was alright. It took three days though before she heard from her friend Tomomi, who was living in the hardest hit area of the country.

 

• Towing company owner Harold Hamon died following the collision of his blue Ford F350 pickup and a white Chevrolet panel van on the Langley Bypass east of the 200 Street intersection. The white van had been making an illegal left turn onto the Bypass when the crash occurred. In the last 10 years of his life, Hamon had dealt with diabetes, the amputation of his right leg, kidney failures and the aftereffects of open heart surgery that left him clinically dead for just over four minutes. He is remembered by family and friends as a hard-working, big-hearted person who would tow people even if they were broke, telling them to pay him when they could. He also loved to build slick, fast cars and trucks.

 

April

 

• Metro Vancouver Parks announced that one of the community’s most popular summer attractions, the swimming pool (lake) at Aldergrove Lake Park, was closed due to health concerns. After serving Langley residents for over 50 years the man-made lake no longer complied with new health regulations and could not be upgraded. It would have had to been redesigned and rebuilt to meet the current B.C. Public Health Act regulations which came into effect in October, 2010.

 

• On April 12, the ground was broken for Lynn Fripps Elementary School in Willoughby. The brand new school is named in memory of Fripps, a devoted Aldergrove volunteer, who died in 2005 from breast cancer. The Kindergarten to Grade 7 school, which is expected to cost $15 million, is slated to open in September 2012.

 

• On Wednesday, April 13,  Times photographer John Gordon wrapped up a 22-year career with the newspaper. His photography career began in 1983 when some friends encouraged him to take his photographs to the local paper. The editor then gave him three rolls of film for him to produce three photo stories. The following year he sold 200 photos to the paper. His career blossomed from there.

 

• Langley resident José Figueroa and his son José Ivan arrived in Ottawa with a 1,200 word petition and letters of support to Canadian government ministers and the El Salvadoran embassy to stop Figueroa from being deported back to his native El Salvador. Figueroa, who has lived in Langley for 13 years with his wife and three Canadian-born children, was ordered deported from Canada because of his involvement as a student with the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) during the civil war in El Salvador. He has been told it will be seven to nine years before there is a ruling on his application to the ministry of public safety for “ministerial relief” to allow him to stay in Canada.

 

• On April 19, school trustees approved a new money-saving measure to shorten the school year by six days. The missing time will be made up by adding nine minutes to each elementary school day and 10 minutes to secondary school days. The change will save the district $225,000 per year.

 

• Singer Tiffany Desrosiers won the first annual Langley’s Got Talent contest with her rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah. She took home $2,500 in cash and studio time at Blue Frog Studios and Shaw Cable. Pianist and singer Sarah Tummon took second place with her performance of Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why and Fernridge resident Britt Bonshor played guitar and sang her way into the third spot with an original song, titled Breaking Free. Tummon and Bonshor each received a $250 prize. In addition to highlighting local musical talent, the contest served to raise funds for, and awareness of the need for a dedicated performing arts centre in Langley.

May

 

• Mark Warawa won his fourth consecutive election as Langley MP, returning to Ottawa to join the first Conservative majority government since 1993. Warawa won 64.1 per cent of the total number of votes cast. Second place NDP candidate Piotr Majkowski had 20.7 per cent of the vote, Rebecca Darnell of the Liberal party had 9.2 per cent, Carey Poitras of the Green Party 5.4 per cent and Craig Nobbs of the Pirate Party, 0.7 per cent.

 

• Violence erupted at Willowbrook Shopping Centre when thieves pulled a jewelry heist at the Golden Tree Jewelry Store around noon on May 5. Shots were fired as the bandits fled the scene, and 10 people suffered from serious exposure to pepper spray. About an hour after the robbery, Vancouver Police arrested six suspects at Lougheed and North Road in Coquitlam.

 

• On May 2, residents of the Routley area of Langley received letters explaining an application had been made to use a 15-acre site originally slated for a new elementary school as part of a 103-unit townhouse complex and public park space. The school district, the Township of Langley and a private developer negotiated a land swap that traded the Routley space for another location in the Yorkson neighbourhood at 20626 84 Ave. The swap comes at no extra cost to the school district. Parents of the area were enraged, claiming their children will not have a school within walking distance and that more townhouses will only bring in more traffic to the area.

 

• Harbour Air seaplanes ended  daily service between Victoria and Langley, because of poor passenger numbers on Victoria-to-Langley flights and a surge in fuel prices. The flights were reasonably full heading to Victoria, but almost empty coming back. Harbour Air established the Langley-to-Victoria route four years ago.

 

• Three operators of the two companies involved in the 2008 mushroom farm tragedy that killed three men and left two permanently brain dead pleaded guilty to charges of violating provincial safety regulations. Van Thi Truong, Ha Qua Truong, Thinh Huu Doan and the companies they operate — A-1 Mushroom Substratum Ltd. and H.V. Truong Ltd. — pleaded guilty to 10 of the original 29 charges. Charges were dropped against Vy Tri Truong.

 

• On May 27, the Willoughby Greenway Bridge officially opened to foot traffic, giving pedestrians a safe way to cross 200 Street at 68 Avenue. The $2.66 million project is Langley’s second pedestrian walkway and will aid in future development of the area.  Township council later named the bridge the Cole Harmony Bridge.

 

June

 

• The B.C. Supreme Court convicted Albert Jacob Jackman, 24, of first degree murder and Gregory Barrett, 32, of manslaughter for the March, 2009 killing of 24-year-old Aldergrove resident Kyle Barber. In finding the two men guilty as charged, Justice Sunny Stromberg-Stein rejected defence claims that Barrett and Jackman did not mean to kill anyone when they paid Barber and his girlfriend a late night visit, concerning a robbery at a barn next door that Barrett leased. Jackman was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.

 

• Albert Jacob Jackman pleaded guilty to his part in the brutal 2009 beating of 29-year-old Tyler Willock, including one count of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful confinement, in the gang-related attack that sent Willock to hospital with multiple fractures. Wesley Edward Kelemen was co-accused with one count of aggravated assault. Willock was reportedly attacked with a sledgehammer.

He suffered multiple fractures and puncture wounds to his arms and legs that required extensive surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. Jackman didn’t receive any more jail time for the attack because he is already in prison serving the longest jail sentence possible under Canadian law — life with no parole for 25 years — in the unrelated murder of Kyle Barber.

 

• A walk by parents to protest the relocation of a planned school in the Routley neighbourhood of Langley didn’t draw the turnout organizers hoped for. A total of 21 people out of 1,200 invited participated in the 45-minute early morning hike to Willoughby Elementary School on June 7.  The participants oppose a land swap that would see the Routley school site traded for land in the distant Yorkson neighbourhood.

 

• The Trans-Canada Highway between Langley and Abbotsford was officially dedicated as the “Highway of Heroes” June 9 to honour 13 B.C. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. This is the second Highway of Heroes named in Canada, with the first located in Ontario on Highway 401 from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to the coroners’ office in Toronto. The renaming of the B.C. route was the work of a Chilliwack-based veterans’ group, the 3rd CAV (Canadian Army Veterans) Ubique Unit.

 

• Amanda Grace McPhee was found safe and sound riding a transit bus in Langley, 10 days after she disappeared from her Brookswood home. In an apology video McPhee posted on YouTube, she stated that she spent much of her time in Vancouver, riding on buses, and staying overnight in the woods on Mount Seymour. A massive social media campaign had been launched online as well searches by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team to find her. More than 30 officers were involved in the search, concentrating on parks and wooded trails because those were places McPhee liked to visit.

 

• The streets of Vancouver erupted in riots after the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup on June 15. Rioters set fires, vandalized property, looted numerous stores and burned 15 cars. Five Langley RCMP officers were among a group of 100 police who were shifted from the quiet streets of Surrey to quell the riot in downtown Vancouver.

 

• A citizen group announced they were going to be seeking signatures from residents of Langley City and Langley Township in the summer, as part of a drive to convince the two councils to jointly commission an independent study on the feasibility of reuniting the two Langleys. The Langley Reunification Association, formed in May 2011, said it wanted nothing more than an objective study of whether or not reunification is feasible. Some of its concerns were the Township’s inability to provide urban services such as water, sewer and street lights. When the subject had come up before, there had been some mild interest in reunification from some Langley Township officials, however City officials have been almost universally opposed.

 

• Vancouver lawyer David Crossin was appointed as an independent special prosecutor to review an RCMP investigation into allegations against former Langley Township Mayor Rick Green. The RCMP probe concerned comments the mayor made relating to Brownshak Developments. Green revealed that in 2009 he had received an anonymous letter and copies of corporate records relating to Brownshak. He claimed that these documents might support allegations of improper conduct by Brownshak and its principals, which dated back to 1996. Green denied any wrongdoing.  Crossin eventually recommended that no charges be laid.

 

 

 

 

• On Feb. 18, 12-year-old Coleton Nelson was killed when the car he was traveling in collided with a garbage truck. Both the driver, his 18-year-old cousin, and the passenger, a 12-year-old friend, survived. The Grade 7 student at North Otter Elementary is remembered for his avid love of hockey. He had played for three Aldergrove teams including the peewee Aldergrove Chiefs, the bantam Aldergrove Bruins and the peewee Bruins rep team as an affiliate player.

 

• Seattle Seahawks defensive back Marcus Trufant accompanied 12-year-old Kamren Loof-Cote to school in a black limousine after the Grade 7 student at H.D. Stafford Middle school won an online contest. Trufant then spoke to the students at Stafford in a special assembly about working towards your dreams, finding success and preventing bullying.

 

• Christy Clark won the Liberal Leadership, beating former cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong. On Feb. 26, it took three rounds of ballots from the 90,000 members of the B.C. Liberal Party to select Clark as Gordon Campbell’s replacement.

 

March

 

• A coroner’s inquest ruled 49-year-old Frank Frechette died of severe blood loss from a punctured lung after stabbing himself and jumping out of a two-storey building. It was undetermined if the shock from taser darts fired at him by police following the September, 2008 incident played any part in his death.

According to his girlfriend Trina Toffan, the incident occurred when Frechette became irrational after he robbed a Brookswood bank that day only to discover the money had been booby trapped with an exploding pack of dye.

He tried to scrub the dye off, then stabbed himself in the chest before leaping through the window. He was Tasered by an RCMP officer after he ignored police commands to surrender and tried to re-enter the house.

 

• A new dance club for teens ages 14-18 hit sour notes with neighbours, who complained of noise, profanity, public drunkenness and open drug use among the teenage patrons. Vancouver’s Ultimate Dance Club, located in the former Legion building on Eastleigh Crescent, opened its doors on March 4 as a place for teens to dance and hang out with their friends on Friday and Saturday nights.

• On March 12, over 300 anti-human trafficking activists braved the rain and marched through Langley City in a Freedom March led by Miss Canada, Tara Teng. Afterwards a rally was held in Douglas Park to talk about modern slavery both locally and internationally. Teng’s goal is to raise public awareness of the issue and ultimately abolish human trafficking.

 

• After walking away with silver medals the year before, the Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball team captured the gold in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championship with a win in three straight sets over the Brandon Bobcats. Seeded fourth at the eight-team national championships, Trinity Western beat fifth-ranked Alberta with five sets in the quarter-finals and then another five sets against top-ranked Calgary in the semifinals.

 

• On March 7, Kwantlen elder George Anton was shot to death in his home on McMillan Island, stunning the entire Kwantlen community of 90 people in Fort Langley. The 71-year-old was born on McMillan Island and sent to a residential school when he was seven years old. In an interview with The Times, he had said “it was real sad the way they treated us” at the residential schools. He remembered the food being terrible and kids trying to run away. When he finally left, he became a logger and fisherman. He continued to fish for the remainder of his life.  His murder remains unsolved.

 

• On March 11, a 9.0 magnitude quake in Japan sent 10-metre  waves as far as 10 kilometres inland, wiping out entire communities and killing thousands. Langley resident Masami Yakata was one of many Japanese Canadians frantically trying to track down family and friends in Japan following the disaster. It took her about 30 minutes to get through and confirm her family was alright. It took three days though before she heard from her friend Tomomi, who was living in the hardest hit area of the country.

 

• Towing company owner Harold Hamon died following the collision of his blue Ford F350 pickup and a white Chevrolet panel van on the Langley Bypass east of the 200 Street intersection. The white van had been making an illegal left turn onto the Bypass when the crash occurred. In the last 10 years of his life, Hamon had dealt with diabetes, the amputation of his right leg, kidney failures and the aftereffects of open heart surgery that left him clinically dead for just over four minutes. He is remembered by family and friends as a hard-working, big-hearted person who would tow people even if they were broke, telling them to pay him when they could. He also loved to build slick, fast cars and trucks.

 

April

 

• Metro Vancouver Parks announced that one of the community’s most popular summer attractions, the swimming pool (lake) at Aldergrove Lake Park, was closed due to health concerns. After serving Langley residents for over 50 years the man-made lake no longer complied with new health regulations and could not be upgraded. It would have had to been redesigned and rebuilt to meet the current B.C. Public Health Act regulations which came into effect in October, 2010.

 

• On April 12, the ground was broken for Lynn Fripps Elementary School in Willoughby. The brand new school is named in memory of Fripps, a devoted Aldergrove volunteer, who died in 2005 from breast cancer. The Kindergarten to Grade 7 school, which is expected to cost $15 million, is slated to open in September 2012.

 

• On Wednesday, April 13,  Times photographer John Gordon wrapped up a 22-year career with the newspaper. His photography career began in 1983 when some friends encouraged him to take his photographs to the local paper. The editor then gave him three rolls of film for him to produce three photo stories. The following year he sold 200 photos to the paper. His career blossomed from there.

 

• Langley resident José Figueroa and his son José Ivan arrived in Ottawa with a 1,200 word petition and letters of support to Canadian government ministers and the El Salvadoran embassy to stop Figueroa from being deported back to his native El Salvador. Figueroa, who has lived in Langley for 13 years with his wife and three Canadian-born children, was ordered deported from Canada because of his involvement as a student with the left-wing Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) during the civil war in El Salvador. He has been told it will be seven to nine years before there is a ruling on his application to the ministry of public safety for “ministerial relief” to allow him to stay in Canada.

 

• On April 19, school trustees approved a new money-saving measure to shorten the school year by six days. The missing time will be made up by adding nine minutes to each elementary school day and 10 minutes to secondary school days. The change will save the district $225,000 per year.

 

• Singer Tiffany Desrosiers won the first annual Langley’s Got Talent contest with her rendition of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujah. She took home $2,500 in cash and studio time at Blue Frog Studios and Shaw Cable. Pianist and singer Sarah Tummon took second place with her performance of Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why and Fernridge resident Britt Bonshor played guitar and sang her way into the third spot with an original song, titled Breaking Free. Tummon and Bonshor each received a $250 prize. In addition to highlighting local musical talent, the contest served to raise funds for, and awareness of the need for a dedicated performing arts centre in Langley.

May

 

• Mark Warawa won his fourth consecutive election as Langley MP, returning to Ottawa to join the first Conservative majority government since 1993. Warawa won 64.1 per cent of the total number of votes cast. Second place NDP candidate Piotr Majkowski had 20.7 per cent of the vote, Rebecca Darnell of the Liberal party had 9.2 per cent, Carey Poitras of the Green Party 5.4 per cent and Craig Nobbs of the Pirate Party, 0.7 per cent.

 

• Violence erupted at Willowbrook Shopping Centre when thieves pulled a jewelry heist at the Golden Tree Jewelry Store around noon on May 5. Shots were fired as the bandits fled the scene, and 10 people suffered from serious exposure to pepper spray. About an hour after the robbery, Vancouver Police arrested six suspects at Lougheed and North Road in Coquitlam.

 

• On May 2, residents of the Routley area of Langley received letters explaining an application had been made to use a 15-acre site originally slated for a new elementary school as part of a 103-unit townhouse complex and public park space. The school district, the Township of Langley and a private developer negotiated a land swap that traded the Routley space for another location in the Yorkson neighbourhood at 20626 84 Ave. The swap comes at no extra cost to the school district. Parents of the area were enraged, claiming their children will not have a school within walking distance and that more townhouses will only bring in more traffic to the area.

 

• Harbour Air seaplanes ended  daily service between Victoria and Langley, because of poor passenger numbers on Victoria-to-Langley flights and a surge in fuel prices. The flights were reasonably full heading to Victoria, but almost empty coming back. Harbour Air established the Langley-to-Victoria route four years ago.

 

• Three operators of the two companies involved in the 2008 mushroom farm tragedy that killed three men and left two permanently brain dead pleaded guilty to charges of violating provincial safety regulations. Van Thi Truong, Ha Qua Truong, Thinh Huu Doan and the companies they operate — A-1 Mushroom Substratum Ltd. and H.V. Truong Ltd. — pleaded guilty to 10 of the original 29 charges. Charges were dropped against Vy Tri Truong.

 

• On May 27, the Willoughby Greenway Bridge officially opened to foot traffic, giving pedestrians a safe way to cross 200 Street at 68 Avenue. The $2.66 million project is Langley’s second pedestrian walkway and will aid in future development of the area.  Township council later named the bridge the Cole Harmony Bridge.

 

June

 

• The B.C. Supreme Court convicted Albert Jacob Jackman, 24, of first degree murder and Gregory Barrett, 32, of manslaughter for the March, 2009 killing of 24-year-old Aldergrove resident Kyle Barber. In finding the two men guilty as charged, Justice Sunny Stromberg-Stein rejected defence claims that Barrett and Jackman did not mean to kill anyone when they paid Barber and his girlfriend a late night visit, concerning a robbery at a barn next door that Barrett leased. Jackman was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for 25 years.

 

• Albert Jacob Jackman pleaded guilty to his part in the brutal 2009 beating of 29-year-old Tyler Willock, including one count of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful confinement, in the gang-related attack that sent Willock to hospital with multiple fractures. Wesley Edward Kelemen was co-accused with one count of aggravated assault. Willock was reportedly attacked with a sledgehammer.

He suffered multiple fractures and puncture wounds to his arms and legs that required extensive surgery and a lengthy hospital stay. Jackman didn’t receive any more jail time for the attack because he is already in prison serving the longest jail sentence possible under Canadian law — life with no parole for 25 years — in the unrelated murder of Kyle Barber.

 

• A walk by parents to protest the relocation of a planned school in the Routley neighbourhood of Langley didn’t draw the turnout organizers hoped for. A total of 21 people out of 1,200 invited participated in the 45-minute early morning hike to Willoughby Elementary School on June 7.  The participants oppose a land swap that would see the Routley school site traded for land in the distant Yorkson neighbourhood.

 

• The Trans-Canada Highway between Langley and Abbotsford was officially dedicated as the “Highway of Heroes” June 9 to honour 13 B.C. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. This is the second Highway of Heroes named in Canada, with the first located in Ontario on Highway 401 from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to the coroners’ office in Toronto. The renaming of the B.C. route was the work of a Chilliwack-based veterans’ group, the 3rd CAV (Canadian Army Veterans) Ubique Unit.

 

• Amanda Grace McPhee was found safe and sound riding a transit bus in Langley, 10 days after she disappeared from her Brookswood home. In an apology video McPhee posted on YouTube, she stated that she spent much of her time in Vancouver, riding on buses, and staying overnight in the woods on Mount Seymour. A massive social media campaign had been launched online as well searches by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team to find her. More than 30 officers were involved in the search, concentrating on parks and wooded trails because those were places McPhee liked to visit.

 

• The streets of Vancouver erupted in riots after the Vancouver Canucks lost game 7 of the Stanley Cup on June 15. Rioters set fires, vandalized property, looted numerous stores and burned 15 cars. Five Langley RCMP officers were among a group of 100 police who were shifted from the quiet streets of Surrey to quell the riot in downtown Vancouver.

 

• A citizen group announced they were going to be seeking signatures from residents of Langley City and Langley Township in the summer, as part of a drive to convince the two councils to jointly commission an independent study on the feasibility of reuniting the two Langleys. The Langley Reunification Association, formed in May 2011, said it wanted nothing more than an objective study of whether or not reunification is feasible. Some of its concerns were the Township’s inability to provide urban services such as water, sewer and street lights. When the subject had come up before, there had been some mild interest in reunification from some Langley Township officials, however City officials have been almost universally opposed.

 

• Vancouver lawyer David Crossin was appointed as an independent special prosecutor to review an RCMP investigation into allegations against former Langley Township Mayor Rick Green. The RCMP probe concerned comments the mayor made relating to Brownshak Developments. Green revealed that in 2009 he had received an anonymous letter and copies of corporate records relating to Brownshak. He claimed that these documents might support allegations of improper conduct by Brownshak and its principals, which dated back to 1996. Green denied any wrongdoing.  Crossin eventually recommended that no charges be laid.

 

 

July

 

RCMP officers raided the Langley Medical Marijuana Dispensary July 19 after receiving a warrant from the Chilliwack provincial court to search for evidence of “possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.”Approximately five to 10 pounds of different strains of marijuana were seized and an assortment of “edible products” as well. Owner Randy Caine had been operating the dispensary for three-and-a-half months in an office located on the second floor of a new Langley City office building.

 

Members of the Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team and police dog services cordoned off the area around the 27100 block of 16 Avenue after receiving a call from a male claiming he’d killed several people and was holding several more hostage inside a house in that area. The call was a hoax, and an investigation was launched to see if the household’s family computer, which had been hacked, was done so by the same person who made the prank call.

 

Brett Loftus, 25, was one of two men killed July 5 when the Cessna they were flying crashed in the mountainous terrain north of Harrison Lake after taking off on a training flight from Boundary Bay Airport. Loftus’ 23-year-old student Joel Norteman of Vancouver also died in the accident. Both were members of South Delta-based Pacific Flying Club. About 200 people squeezed inside the Boundary Bay airport Terminal July 12 to remember the friend, brother, son and beloved flight instructor.

 

The BC River Forecast Centre issued a “high streamflow advisory” for the Lower Fraser River July 11. The higher than usual river levels were blamed on heavier than normal rainfall through the upper portions of the Fraser River watershed and North Thompson River earlier in July. Township of Langley municipal crews began making daily checks of river levels at three dikes in Glen Valley, Fort Langley and near the Golden Ears Bridge.

 

Only seven people attended a rally against former Langley Township mayor Rick Green on July 15, which was organized by Joe Zaccaria and Sukhi Dhami. The two were joined by Bert Chen, Al Peterson, Patricia Revill, one other supporter who would not reveal his name and a man in a wheelchair. The rally was organized to encourage Rick Green to step down while a special prosecutor reviewed an RCMP probe into the mayor’s conduct. Dhami and Zaccaria urged the mayor to step aside at a Township Council meeting earlier in July. Green later stated that he would not step down and that he planned to run for office in the municipal election in November.

 

August

 

The family of Langley resident Alvin Wright, who died after he was shot by an RCMP officer during an August 2010 confrontation inside his home, filed a lawsuit against six RCMP officers. The lawsuit seeks unspecified compensation from the RCMP officers and their superiors for the alleged wrongful death of Wright, the false imprisonment of his spouse Heather Hannon and the infliction of mental distress on her following the shooting.

 

Jeff Malmgren presented to the Metro Vancouver regional planning committee his plan for a Fraser River Bus Society to connect commuters from Langley to Richmond via the Fraser River. He proposed that four vessels with a projected capacity of 10,000 to 15,000 passengers per day could run up and down the river. The committee asked the regional district’s staff to investigate the proposal.

 

Two-term Langley Township council member Jordan Bateman stepped down from his position to become the communications director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in B.C. Bateman cancelled his membership in the BC Liberal Party and ended his business association with his friend, Fort langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman. The Canadian Taxpayers Federation, which is not affiliated with any political party, advocates for lower taxes and smaller government and fights government waste.

 

A 90-minute police standoff ended peacefully after 33-year-old Christopher Warren Nohr stepped out of a house near 209A Crescent and 210 Street with his hands in the air. Nohr was wanted for breaching his court ordered terms of release, following an incident in March where he was charged with driving while prohibited, robbery, use of an imitation firearm and forcible confinement.

 

Five months after it opened in Langley, Vancouver’s Ultimate Dance Club for teens shut down due to declining attendance. When the club for 14-18-year-olds first opened in March it drew overflow crowds, with many kids turned away at the door because the club had reached its 500-person legal limit. The club also drew noise complaints from nearby townhouse and apartment building residents, whose grievances included vandalism, pot smoking and public drunkenness among the club’s under-age patrons.

 

Less than a month after stepping out of the public eye, the federal leader of the Opposition Jack Layton died, shocking Canadians. After an initial battle against prostate cancer in 2010 had gone into remission, Layton announced on July 25 that he was again battling cancer. Layton had served as the leader of the federal NDP for eight years, and in the May 2 election helped the party gain official opposition status for the first time, winning 103 seats.

 

Four Langley teenagers and one from Surrey were charged with brutally beating a Crescent Beach resident who tried to protect his home from vandalism on Aug. 12. Eric Seiz, 46, received serious facial injuries after the male teens, ages 14 to 16, attacked him with sticks. Five of the youths faced charges of assault with a weapon and one was charged with assault causing bodily harm.

 

A young driver crashed her Honda Civic into the front of Porter’s Coffee & Tea House, while the bistro owner Sharon Symes’ watched horrified from inside. The driver lost control while driving around the roundabout at the intersection of 216 Street and 48 Avenue and skidded into the wall beside the front door, covering the interior of the heritage building with glass and debris. No one was hurt in the incident.

 

The B.C HST was defeated by voters Aug. 26 in a province-wide referendum to decide the fate of the controversial tax. Elections B.C. announced that 54.73 per cent of the 1.6 million British Columbians who voted wanted the tax eliminated. In Fort Langley-Aldergrove, 54.16 per cent of residents were in favour of axing the tax, while 51.16 per cent in the Langley riding voted to keep it.

 

Langley College closed Aug. 31 after operating in Langley for 28 years. Despite being recently given an excellent rating by the Private Career Training Institutions Agency, the Langley School Board decided to close the school as part of budget cuts needed to pay back a $13.5 million deficit. School district spokesperson Craig Spence said funding for the college adult education program was cut because it was outside the central focus of “K-to-12” programs.

 

September

 

Special prosecutor David Crossin, Q.C. concluded that no charges should be laid against former Langley Township mayor Rick Green. The Crossin ruling follows an RCMP investigation into an accusation that Green violated privacy laws in September 2010 after he was censured by Langley Township council. The police investigation of Green was prompted by an anonymous letter alleging breaches of the Privacy Act and Community Charter when Green made a public statement on Sept. 14, 2010, the day after he was publicly censured by council, over his conduct in the Brownshak affair. Green was thrilled with the outcome, saying “I’ve maintained since day one that I did nothing wrong.”

 

Brent Parent pleaded not guilty to five road rage related charges against him in the 2008 death of 21-year-old Silas O’Brien, including criminal negligence causing death, dangerous driving causing death, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to stop at an accident with a vehicle. The latter charge has since been dropped.The prosecution argued that Parent became enraged when he thought that the truck O’Brien was riding in had deliberately flashed its high beams at him. Parent is accused of pushing O’Brien’s truck into a ditch after their vehicles made contact, returning to the scene and running him down. Parent testified that he had no idea his vehicle had struck anyone. He will learn his fate on Jan. 6, 2012.

 

Robinderpal Singh Rathor, the former owner of a Langley currency exchange, pleaded guilty to multiple criminal counts of gang-related money laundering at a Langley currency exchange. Over a six-month period from April 16 to May 26, Rathor exchanged $560,000 U.S. in four transactions for two men he believed were drug dealers. They were actually an undercover RCMP sergeant and corporal. He was sentenced to two years, less a day, of house arrest at a hearing in October.

 

After taking a one-year hiatus in 2010, the Langley Good Times Cruise-In returned to downtown Langley on Sept. 10 a huge success. Crowds of nearly 100,000 braced the hot late summer weather to admire the 1,200 classic cars registered in the event. Unlike the mass burnouts and street racing seen at the 2009 show, the 2011 show was significantly quieter with only a handful of tickets issued.

 

The new Mufford Crescent railway overpass West T plan was unveiled at two public open houses. The overpass will cost an estimated $52 million and will absorb far less farmland than the last plan proposed. It will also necessitate the widening of a portion of Glover Road to four lanes and prompt major improvements to 64 Avenue from 204 Street (at the Willowbrook Connector) to 216 Street. The overpass will contain a loop north of the existing Mufford/Glover junction that will funnel traffic both south and north on Glover Road and will add several new traffic lights. The design was later approved by the Agricultural Land Commission on Dec. 14.

 

Two months after it was closed down by a police raid, the Langley Medical Marijuana Dispensary reopened in the same location under its original management. Immediately following the July 19 visit by Langley RCMP officers, dispensary founder Randy Caine said someone else would have to take on the task of distributing medicinal marijuana. But since then, Caine said there had been encouraging signs of support in the community, enough for him to reopen. He said he didn’t expect another police raid.

 

Missing helicopter pilot Rod Phillipson was found dead after he crashed near Coquihalla Mountain. Phillipson was planning to open his own flying school at the Langley Regional Airport, where he’d owned his own hangar for about 10 years.

 

October

 

The Langley RCMP oficers who arrested Mark Marohn for animal abuse in 2008 repeatedly violated and “trampled upon” his rights, a Surrey Provincial Court judge ruled Oct. 11. The judge did not dismiss the charges, ruling there was enough evidence remaining to continue the trial. Marohn and his estranged wife Carol Schoyen-Marohn were each charged with causing an animal to be in distress and failing to provide “necessaries” for an animal. The charges were laid after an ailing and underweight former racehorse named “Buddy” was allegedly used to try and tow a car out of a ditch, a charge Marohn heatedly denied when he testified during a lengthy hearing on admissibility of evidence known as a voir dire or trial within a trial.

 

The City of Langley announced that beginning in December, the Timms Community Centre would be temporarily relocated from its current home on Douglas Crescent, while the old building is demolished and a new 13,000 square-foot facility is built. The City signed a two-year lease agreement with Marcon Development Ltd. for the building at 20702 Eastleigh Cres., former home of the Langley Legion and most recently occupied by the now-defunct Vancouver’s Ultimate Dance Club.

 

H.D. Stafford Grade 8 student Demetri was struck by a pickup while crossing a cross walk at 48 Avenue and 208 Street on his way to school. Township firefighter Scott Brewer was one of the first on the scene, rushing to the stricken boy’s side to give him first aid until paramedics arrived. The boy suffered head injuries and a broken femur and was airlifted to Children’s Hospital with his mother.

 

Roy Michael Thielen, one of three people charged with first degree murder in the March 2009 slaying of two Langley residents, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder Oct. 6 in a B.C. Supreme Court hearing. Thielen was 30 when he was arrested and charged in July of last year with killing 36-year-old Laura Lynne Lamoureux on March 14, 2009, and the related murder of 33-year-old Marc Bontkes on March 19, 2009, at a location seven blocks east of the Lamoureux slaying.

 

Township Council released the Lidstone Report on Oct. 17, giving details of The Lidstone and Co. legal firm’s probe of the inconsistencies in Rick Green’s story about the discovery of anonymous documents in a brown envelope concerning the company Brownshak. The report concluded that Green misled lawyers, his staff and his own council when he called the sudden in-camera meeting on Oct. 29, 2009 to share what he claimed was new information he had just received in an anonymous envelope. Green had actually received it two months prior to the meeting. Green’s reaction to the report was that there was “nothing new” released.

 

Service to thousands of Shaw Cable television, internet and phone customers in Langley was disrupted when wire thieves cut a major cable line running through a heavily-wooded mini-park near the intersection of Eastleigh Cres. and 56 Avenue. The company estimated 20,000 homes lost cable, 14,000 lost internet service and 8,000 lost telephone service. The affected area stretched from Langley City to Aldergrove.

 

Langley City mayor Peter Fassbender revealed council unanimously voted against a medical marijuana dispensary during a closed-door meeting “four or five months ago.” The vote was taken after the City obtained legal advice about the controversial dispensary operated by marijuana activist Randy Caine. Fassbender said the law firm which reviewed the issue told council the dispensary, as it is currently operated, violates federal government laws, and a municipal government such as Langley City does not have the legal power to approve one.

 

The day after Langley City council rejected a request for support from the medical marijuana dispensary operated by Randy Caine, Caine was charged with one count of “possession for the purpose of trafficking.” Caine, a candidate for City council, closed the dispensary after being warned if he continued to operate, he ran the risk of imprisonment.

 

A 24-year-old Langley man died when a small hatchback car hit a semi trailer truck in the 6900 block of Glover Road. The hatchback was traveling northbound on Glover Road when it crossed the centre line and collided with a southbound truck. The car ended up in a ditch.

 

A group of Willoughby residents who launched a court challenge over Athenry Development’s project for condos and a cultural centre in Willoughby agreed with the Township to drop the case. The Supreme Court of B.C. ordered the residents and the Township to pay their own costs, leaving taxpayers on the hook for a case that went nowhere.

 

November

 

Premier Christy Clark announced Langley’s fast-growing Willoughby district will get two new schools. The commitment to build a new elementary school, a new middle school and to buy land to build one of the schools on is worth an estimated $50 million. It was part of a $353-million capital plan for 19 projects that include new schools and expansions of some existing school in communities with the fastest growing student populations.

 

The Langley RCMP officer who shot and killed 22-year-old Alvin Wright last year was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. The Vancouver Police Department was called in by the RCMP after Wright died during a confrontation with Mounties inside his Langley City home on Aug. 6, 2010. A coroner’s inquest has now been scheduled for the week of March 26, 2012.

 

The City of Langley was granted $50,000 from the government of Canada towards its new war memorial in Douglas Park. The grant came from the Community War Memorial Program and funded a new cenotaph to commemorate Langley residents who served during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.

 

Dylan Reichelt, the 18-year-old son of B.C. Lions head trainer Bill Reichelt, was killed in a car crash Nov. 12. Reichelt was a passenger in a BMW that went off the road in the 19800 block of 36 Ave. during a heavy downpour. The driver of the BMW suffered minor injuries, Reichelt died at the scene. He is remember as an avid athlete, competing in a number of sports with his twin brother including hockey, baseball, soccer, rowing and golf.

 

Approximately 100 people protested the Vancouver Police Department’s decision that there were no grounds for criminal charges in the August, 2010 incident where an RCMP officer shot and killed 22-year-old Alvin Wright in his Langley home. The protestors stood outside the B.C. regional headquarters of the RCMP in Vancouver chanting “responsibility, accountability, that’s what the people want.”

 

Dallas Ball, 18, was charged with using pepper spray to assault two undercover Langley RCMP officers. The incident occurred when the two Langley RCMP Street Enforcement Unit officers spotted two men walking through an alley, one of them wanted on an outstanding warrant. When the plainclothes Mounties identified themselves as police, both suspects turned and ran. The man with the outstanding warrant turned and sprayed the officers with bear spray.

 

WorkSafeBC fined Pro-Built Masonry Ltd. $8,276.55 over the collapse of a brick wall in November, 2010 that destroyed Accent on Pastries bakery and damaged two other other neighbouring businesses. The bakery on Douglas Crescent suffered irreparable damage when the top portion of a firewall being built as part of an adjacent residential development collapsed onto its roof. The remainder of the building was later demolished.

 

Langley Township mayor Rick Green was defeated at the polls by newcomer Jack Froese, owner of JD Farms Specialty Turkey. Froese received 7706 votes, with councillor incumbent Mel Kosistsky coming in second at 6522 votes and Rick Green in third with 4466 votes. David Davis and Michelle Sparrow were added to Township council with the remaining seats resumed by incumbents. In the City of Langley, Mayor Peter Fassbender won a third term in office. He was joined by five returning incumbent councillor candidates. Rudy Storteboom was ousted in the polls, replaced by Ted Schaffer.

 

The “Walk to Remember” project organized by Langley Youth for the Fallen was officially unveiled at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum on Remembrance Day. The project, created by siblings Michael and Elizabeth Pratt, consists of 158 commemorative trees planted in honour of the fallen Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. A cenotaph will be unveiled at the site in Spring, 2012.

 

Langley Secondary School was locked down at about 11 a.m. on Nov. 22 after reports that as many as five youths had entered the school, one of them with a gun. Langley RCMP, with the help of the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team, completed a search of the school and recovered a replica handgun. The lockdown ended around 1:45 p.m. and RCMP took a 17-year-old man into custody. No one was injured and no charges were laid in the incident.

 

Owners of the South Langley mushroom farm where an incident in 2008 killed three people and left two others permanently brain dead were given fines totaling $350,000 with no jail time by a provincial court judge. The fines include $200,000 to the now bankrupt A-1 Mushroom Substratum Ltd. and $120,000 to H.V. Truong Ltd. Owner Ha Qua Truong was given a personal fine of $15,000 and his wife, Van Thi Truong, $5,000. Joint owner Thinh Huu Doan will pay $10,000. Families of the victims of the tragedy were outraged that no jail time will be served and an inquest has now been scheduled for May, 2012.

 

Two workers pruning trees that were hindering B.C. Hydro power lines stumbled cross a human skull on Department of National Defence land on Nov. 29. The area where the skull was spotted was cordoned off by RCMP and military police, who found other bones and a wallet with I.D. near the site of the first discovery. About 80 per cent of a skeleton was recovered, which looks to have been there undiscovered for more than a year. Police said homeless people used to live in the area where the skull was discovered. The remains will be sent to a specialist at Simon Fraser University in the new year.

 

December

 

Langley MLA Mary Polak announced Langley will host the B.C. Seniors Games in September, 2014. Since the games for athletes ages 55 and over were created in 1987, participation has grown from 650 athletes to nearly 4,000. Hosting the games can be an economic boon for Langley, with an estimated $2 million in economic activity. Burnaby is hosting the games in 2012 and Kamloops in 2013.

 

Female Langley elementary school teacher Deborah Ralph, 57, was charged on Dec. 1 with sexually assaulting a male student. She is charged with one count of sexual assault and one of sexual interference. The alleged victim was a student at James Kennedy Elementary in Walnut Grove where Ralph taught from September 1987 to June, 2010. The charges relate to incidents that are said to have occurred from December, 1998 to June, 2001. The alleged victim contacted Langley RCMP on Nov. 8, and Ralph was arrested the next day.

 

An employee of the Langley School District was accused of using racist language in an email to a female teacher. A formal complaint by the B.C. Teachers Federation (BCTF) was filed with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal on behalf of the teacher in late November. At the same time, the Langley Teachers’ Federation (LTA) has taken the matter to a union-management arbitration hearing that will be held separately from the tribunal.The incident allegedly occurred this spring when the employee, described by the LTA as a member of “management/administration” at the district, sent the message to a female teacher described as a member of a visible minority. Details of the message were not immediately disclosed.

 

Formula-driven raises for Township council kicked in on Dec.1, giving council members nearly 20 per cent increases. On Dec. 1, days before they were formally sworn into office, the mayor and eight councillors received an automatic pay increase. Mayor Jack Froese’s salary jumped by almost $1,000 per month, rising to $105,456 from $93,724. The salaries of Councillors David Davis, Grant Ward, Kim Richter, Bob Long, Bev Dornan, Steve Ferguson, Charlie Fox and Michelle Sparrow rose by almost $7,000 a year to $42,936 from $36,043. In the eight years since 2003, a councillor’s salary has more than doubled, and that for mayor has risen by almost 70 per cent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Community Events, October 2014

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