A missing teenager, a whole lot of snow, a new hospital and more newsmakers of 2017.

Campbell River’s 2017 was certainly a roller coaster

Devastating fires, joyous celebrations, big decisions and a missing teenager

Campbell River is a vibrant community, with its fair share of trials, tribulations, successes, failures, heartaches and joys. And upon reflecting on the year that was 2017, the Mirror has selected some of the biggest and most important news stories affecting in the community, placing them here in chronological order.

The year began with the community covered in snow – first carried over from December and then hitting again in February. People were having significant problems getting around, businesses were struggling to keep sidewalks in front of their stores clear and the public was vocal in their condemnation of the efforts of the city to do something about the roads and public sidewalks.

It got so bad it prompted the city to initiate a review of their snow clearing capabilities this fall, including a public survey on how they can improve.

Later in the spring, a small community just north of Campbell River was devastated when the Island’s last logging train was involved in a freak accident, claiming three lives and sending others to hospital.

The train would later shut down. Western Forest Products said the decision would mean cutting 34 jobs, although about half that number were expected to be transitioned “to other opportunities within the company.”

British Columbians went to the polls in the spring and elected a new government, seeing the Liberals ousted from power for the first time since taking power in 2001.

NDP MLA Claire Trevena won the vote here in the North-Island for the fourth time, but this time – with the NDP gaining power in the Legislature – she would be a member of the governing party as opposed to sitting on the opposition side of the aisle.

Trevena would go on to be named by Premier John Horgan as the new Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Then, before the community could really get down to properly celebrating the arrival of summer, it lost a historic icon.

The almost-100-year-old Quinsam Hotel experienced a massive fire one night in late June and, despite the best efforts of Campbell River fire crews, the building was so badly damaged it would need to be torn down. The cause of the fire has not yet been released.

Summer would bring with it the normal celebrations – Canada Day, Campbell River Salmon Festival, Arts Fest and others – but 2017 also saw Campbell River play host to two major indigenous gatherings.

In July, the annual BC Elders Gathering took place at Strathcona Gardens, bringing together voices of elders from all over the province to exchange memories, knowledge and perspectives, fostering strong links and relationships between nations.

Then in August, over 100 canoes came ashore at the Tyee Spit in celebration of Tribal Journeys, seeing over 5,000 people flock to the community to share their canoe stories and histories, exchange gifts and share meals.

Also in August, many in the community got the news they had been waiting to hear for almost two years: Myra Falls Mine would re-open.

Operations at the mine had been suspended since April of 2015.

The mine is now on a timeline to start removing ore again in February.

In the fall, Campbell River’s new 95-bed, 32,316-square-metre hospital facility, which opened to much fanfare.

After opening the Campbell River campus of the two-campus North Island Hospitals Project to the public for an open house in August, the facility officially moved its operations to the new building over the course of one day in September.

The deconstruction of the old hospital building next door began shortly thereafter and is expected to be completed in 2018, making way for more parking, walkways, paths and gardens.

Also in September, the 3.5-acre site taskforce presented their vision for the long-controversial property to the community. The proposal featured a large park and plaza area with walking and cycling trails along the waterfront and a three-storey building that will house the Centre for Aquatic Health Sciences, an aquarium, a restaurant and conference centre – along with a mixed-use “incubator” area for local entrepreneurs to sell locally-produced products and an indoor market area with room for art displays.

That proposal was officially accepted by the city in November, and they will now begin looking for the funding from other levels of government and corporate sponsors to begin construction.

The last part of the year, however, was also filled with worry and sorrow for many.

Back in October, the RCMP issued a release about missing 17-year-old Jordan Holling, asking for the public’s help.

The community responded immediately. Ground searches were mounted which saw complete strangers come together to comb the city and surrounding areas for days for any signs of the missing teen, before the RCMP requested they be called off to allow them to pursue the case undisturbed.

A Facebook page dedicated to finding Holling and supporting his family and friends is still very active.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the young man is asked to contact Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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