From wildfires to tsunami warnings, weather really was at the forefront of our readers’ minds in 2018.
CHEK News viewers and readers also watched the municipal elections across the province and shared the grief of the families who received devastating news about their missing loved ones.
Here is a look at some of the most read stories of the year, as reported by CHEK.
On Jan. 23, 2018, a tsunami warning was issued for large parts of B.C.’s west coast after a 7.9 earthquake struck approximately 280 kilometres southeast of Kodiak City at a depth of 25 kilometres. The earthquake struck at 1:31 a.m. PT and was felt throughout most of southern Alaska and other parts of British Columbia.
Following the quake, there was a three-centimetre wave and a 15-centimetre rise in sea level. The tsunami warning covered the Juan de Fuca Strait coast, the outer west coast of Vancouver Island, the central coast and northeast Vancouver Island, and the north coast and Haida Gwaii. Many residents in Tofino went to an emergency centre and town hall after receiving calls and there were warning sirens in Port Alberni at 3:10 a.m.
In Greater Victoria, local emergency officials were knocking on doors telling residents to head for higher ground. However, some people were upset that they had to go online to get information. That same day, the City of Victoria said they made a mistake by only sending text and email alerts to mobile phones, while voice calls went to landlines. The city said in the future, it will send out alerts via text, email and phone calls to all phones assuming it is warranted. Former Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan also said there could have been better communication social media sites and text message alerts need to be considered for the Port Alberni area in the future.
Ben Kilmer Found Dead
The Cobble Hill husband and father of two was reported missing on May 16. He had last been seen on surveillance video on that day and his electrician work van was later found later along Cowichan Lake Road still running and with blood inside.
The area surrounding the van was the starting point of the search, which involved RCMP investigators, police dog services, Cowichan Search and Rescue and an RCMP helicopter. Volunteers later continued to look for Kilmer in the following months.
Kilmer is survived by his wife and two children.
Motorcyclists warn others about man driving blue Mercedes after close call near Qualicum Beach
Back in September, Trent and Roxanne Bouchard were on their motorcycles on the Inland Island Highway near Qualicum Beach and said a man in a blue Mercedes missed hitting them by inches.
The husband and wife duo said the car came up behind them at a high rate of speed and came within mere inches of Roxanne’s bike before nearly hitting Trent on his. Then when they got home, they said the same man and vehicle that almost hit them was driving out of their cul de sac down Horne Lake Road. Trent said he confronted the man and there was a scuffle on the ground.
B.C. renters face increase
In September, the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch announced it had set the maximum allowable rent increase for 019 at 4.5 per cent, the largest increase since 2004.
In 2018, rent increases were capped at four per cent. According to data from the B.C. Residential Tenancy Branch, rent increases have gone past four per cent twice since 2004. In 2004, the rent increase was at 4.6 per cent and in 2012, it was at 4.3 per cent. In 2017, the maximum allowable rent increase was 3.7 per cent and in 2016, it was at 2.9 per cent.
However, later in the month, the provincial government announced it was cutting next year’s annual allowable rent increase to two per cent, limiting it to inflation.
“It’s simply not sustainable for renters, many of whom are on fixed incomes, to see their rent increase by more than inflation each and every year,” Premier John Horgan said at the time.
“We have to eliminate the risk of such huge increases for renters. Our new approach strikes a balance between giving relief to renters while encouraging people to maintain their rental properties.”
The recommendation to limit the rent increase to inflation was made by the Rental Housing Task Force. The previous formula, set in 2004, allowed annual rent increases of two per cent plus inflation
B.C. wildfires hit the Nanaimo Lakes area
This year’s wildfire season was the worst for total area burned. More than 1.25 million hectares burned during the 2,050 fires, surpassing 2017’s record-breaking year. Vancouver Island did not escape the impact. Zeballos declared a local state of emergency in August due to the nearby Gold Valley main wildfire, which led to several evacuations. The state of emergency is still in effect as the slope of the mountainside where the fire burned is unsafe.
There was also an evacuation alert in another area of Vancouver Island at the beginning of August when the Nanaimo Lakes wildfire continued to spread. The alert was rescinded on Aug. 17 when the wildfire was held.
An employee of a contractor passed away while working under the supervision of the BC Wildfire Service Coastal Fire Centre at Nanaimo Lakes. The employee’s family confirmed it was Darrel Drake ho passed away and described him as an “outgoing, hardworking person” who loved working in the mountains.
Close encounter with a cougar
A Vancouver Island hunter captured a video a close encounter of a cougar while he was out looking for antlers. Adam Bartsch said he was shed hunting and setting up trail cameras when he saw a cougar staring at him.
Remains of Dan Archbald and Ryan Daley found
The remains of Dan Archbald and Ryan Daley were found on June 10 near Ucluelet by a woman walking her dog. Ryan Daley, 43, and Daniel Archbald,37, went missing on May 16. Police said they had been on Archbald’s sailboat, the Astral Blue, that docked in Ucluelet on May 13, 2018. They were reported missing to police after they failed to contact family and friends.
The pair had been on an eight-week sailing trip in Panama before they went missing.
RCMP are investigating their deaths as homicides.
Sewage truck driver dies in Malahat crash
On Aug. 22, the driver of a sewage truck died during a two-vehicle collision in the in the southbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway near the Goldstream Boat House, north of Finlayson Arm Road. Sewage from the truck spilled onto the highway and prevented travel on the Malahat following the crash.
A fundraiser for the family raised nearly $30,000 in 24 hours and community members also brought over some food for the family. Randa Seidel, Jonathan’s widow, was self-employed and on maternity leave at the time of the crash. She said she was very grateful for all the support.
Reduced ferry prices
Seniors rejoiced in April when BC Ferries announced the seniors’ passenger discount would go from 50 per cent to 100 per cent for travel Monday through Thursday on major and inter-island routes. The discount is available for anyone age 65 or older and doesn’t apply on holiday Mondays.
Ticket prices on the 21 inter-island and northern routes, as well as the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route also went down but fares on the the three Metro Vancouver-Vancouver Island routes are being held at current rates. Reservation fees dropped by $5 for customers who booked a week or more in advance.
The seniors’ discount and fare reductions, were part of an agreement between the provincial government and BC Ferries to make ferry travel more affordable.
Nanaimo baby girl has surgery after putting a caterpillar in her mouth
An eight-month-old Nanaimo girl named Kenzie had to have surgery to remove part os a venomous caterpillar she had put in her mouth while on the back deck of her home. The insect is common on Vancouver Island and Kenzie’s mother Krystal Pavan took to social media to warn other parents about the caterpillar.
Kenzie made a full recovery and Island Health also reminded parents to wash their children’s skin if they come into contact with a caterpillar and take them to the emergency room if they put one in their mouth.