We were going over the year in news, trying to determine the top stories of 2015 – a traditional exercise in newspapers at this time of the year.
While it’s the turning of a new year and a time to look ahead, it’s also a time to look back. There’s rarely much difference between one year and the next. There were big stories and there were the “same old, same old” – some stories never seem to go away. But each year things happen and it’s rare that one story is so earth-shattering that it changes the way things are. The closure of the Elk Falls pulp mill was one such story a few years back but that was a rare thing.
This past year, we had these things happen.
The Elk Falls Suspension Bridge opened to great fanfare.
People died and their bodies were found on the beach in separate incidents.
The year began with the tragic loss of Trevor Lyttle whose body was found after an extensive search.
Canada Post decided to remove door-to-door delivery service from the community but then backtracked on the plan after the change of government in Ottawa.
Homelessness was an ongoing issue in 2015 with much anguish over the issue but no permanent solution.
The summer of 2015 was the driest on record for Vancouver Island causing water restrictions and fishing bans on Island rivers. But Campbell River weathered it pretty well – although many residents had a hard time grasping that concept. Fishing bans didn’t apply to the Quinsam and Campbell rivers and our water restrictions were only moderate.
In the local media industry, the Campbell River Courier-Islander was purchased by the Mirror’s parent company, Black Press, and then closed down because it was losing too much money to be considered viable.
Towards the end of the year, School District 72 warned the region that it was going to have to close down some schools due to the number of students being so low that a lot of buildings were not being used to full capacity. The possibility of only needing one high school in the near future was also raised.
Meanwhile, the Campbell River area’s megaprojects continued plodding along. The new hospital and the John Hart Generating Station construction projects are underway.
So, in the end, what was the biggest story of the year? In my opinion, the biggest story of the year was the opening of the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge.
Second was the summer drought which, ironically, was evened out by winter rains with the year being only slightly wetter than usual when all is said and done.
And, again, because we have an extensive reservoir system on the Buttle/Campbell lakes, we were able to retain enough water that filled our needs with only moderate water conservation.
But the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge opening has had a big impact.
It was hugely popular when it opened and continues to be. I was there on Boxing Day and despite the slush and snow, there were many others out for a post-Christmas walk.
The bridge won’t generate direct jobs nor pour millions into the local economy but it is drawing many visitors.
The biggest impact is in the joy residents are getting out of the bridge and giving us all a new perspective on the surrounding Elk Falls Park.