In a year where the news has been dominated by a global pandemic, how people, businesses and organizations have been coping with it and government programs designed to mitigate the effects of it, there have been a lot of other things happening in our community as well.
So to start off 2021, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the most-read non-COVID-19 stories from our region throughout 2020, based on online readership numbers.
While this list is in no way exhaustive of everything non-COVID that happened in and around our community over the past 12 months, it does give a glimpse into what people were interested in reading when they saw it come through their newsfeeds on social media or they headed to campbellrivermirror.com to get their local news.
We’ve chosen to list them in chronological order, to create a sort of timeline of the year that was.
So, without futher ado, we present “The Most-Read Non-COVID Campbell River Mirror Stories of 2020.”
Leanne Wilson, a 45-year-old nurse in Campbell River, wanted to use her history of self-esteem struggles and issues with her own self-image to inspire others and show people that all bodies are beautiful, entering herself in a contest to become a covergirl for Inked Magazine.
“Most girls that I see in these magazines don’t look like me,” she says. “They’ve got that perfect bikini figure, and that’s just not who I am. I’m just an average housewife with some art on my arms. But I thought, you know, maybe if I do well in this thing, it’ll inspire someone else who lacks confidence or don’t feel comfortable in their own skin and show them that you don’t need to meet some certain stereotype to put yourself out there.”
Wilson made it through numerous rounds of voting, and although she was unsuccessful in her ultimate goal of landing on the cover, she said that’s not really what it was all about.
“It’s about the journey,” she says. “I just want to show that although I’ve been through Hell and back growing up in terms of my sense of self, nothing’s gonna break me. I’m here, I can do this. And so can you.”
In their retired lives, Campbell River’s Keith Notter and his friends meet for coffee once a week to talk about life and purchase their group play lottery tickets for the week.
The seven men met 30 years ago when they worked together at a local mine, but their friendship truly blossomed when they retired and began their coffee get-togethers, and they’re closer than ever after sharing the $1 million Lotto 6/49 guaranteed prize in early March this year.
At the time, they said none of them had any plans for their share of the money, because they’d never actually considered the possibility they’d actually win a significant prize, but insisted that it wouldn’t change anything when it came to whether they’d make it to their weekly coffee hangouts.
Campbell River firefighters responded to a fire on the second floor of the apartment comples at the corner of 9th Avenue and Dogwood Street in the early morning hours of April 8. They rescued four people who were still inside the building when they arrived and attempted to get the fire under control.
The fire spread too quickly, however, and they had to change tack to battle the fire with a “defensive attack” from the outside instead.
In the end, over 85 people lost their homes that day, and the building was eventually demolished. No word yet on what, if anything, will be built on the property.
Three generations of the Fong family worked in the restaurant, which had been a fixture of the downtown core for 50 years.
Phillip Fong opened the doors in the 1970s and his son Glen was quick to start work in the family business, washing dishes while standing on a crate at five years old. He wasn’t the only one who would grow up with the business.
Glen’s wife Tanya Larmour started working there as a teenager, and the couple even employed their daughters Mya and Selena.
Phillip was 91 years old when they announced the closure of the restaurant in June, but he still helped out in the kitchen.
The building would go on to be purchased by BC Housing to create bridge housing for people experiencing homelessness in the community.
Kendrah Paul decided to turn her physical life around when she lost her father to a second heart attack. She had become ashamed of how she’d let herself go over the years and knew she needed to do something drastic to turn things around.
The Beachbody Challenge she found was exactly the kick she needed.
Between the nutrition, exercise and support provided by the Beachbody Challenge, the single mom of four managed to lose 140 pounds in 20 months and was named a finalist in the contest’s 30-39 age category, meaning she would win at least $15,000 for all her hard work.
After an online voting period that lasted a few months, Paul was crowned the female Grand Prize Winner and was instead issued a cheque for $100,000.
The remains of Silvio Strussi have been lying at the bottom of Muchalat Lake since 1970 when he died in an industrial accident.
In October, his grandchildren set out to see what they could do to get closure.
Armed with a couple of newspaper clippings from the ‘70s and a death certificate that she obtained from her mother, his granddaughter Kimberly Chastellaine began chasing the ghosts of the past.
While they just wanted to find the location of the accident and mark their grandfather’s passing with a memorial near that spot, their search would later be taken on by an RCMP dive team, who used the pair’s search as a reason to hold a training exercise on the lake this past October.
Although the dive team’s search didn’t turn up Strussi’s remains, his grandchildren at least know the approximate location of the accident and can now memorialize their grandfather.
Around the end of October, the trucks started arriving in town, taking up both northbound lanes of Dogwood Street as they dropped their payloads at the site of Campbell River’s newest supportive housing facility.
The facility was to become home to 50 tenants, which Mayor Andy Adams says will go a long way towards helping with the community’s homelessness issue.
“This isn’t going to meet all the need, and we know that,” Adams says. “But … we’ve been talking about a lack of affordable and supportive housing in this community for at least 10 years, and in the last two years we’ve finally broken through and started to get things done.”
The supportive housing facility wasn’t without its controversy, however. Back in August, a petition was circulating calling for a halt to be put on the plan, asking the city to consider another location, such as the Paramount night club on Ironwood Street.
In the end, the plan did move forward, however, and is expected to be welcoming its first tenants early this year.