It’s not surprising that COVID-19 stories were among the most read this year as readers were hungry for information on how the pandemic is shaping life on the Semiahmoo Peninsula and beyond.
But what is surprising is a few unusual, and sometimes quirky, stories that caught the attention of Peace Arch News readers in 2021.
Here is a list of the top-10 most read stories on the Peace Arch News website this year.
Interest in an incident that occurred at a South Surrey border crossing spread across the country when Canadians were trying to figure out exactly what they can, and cannot do with respect to visiting the U.S.
Confusion on part of CBSA border officers resulted in a mix-up with several people receiving a fine on their return to Canada for not providing a PCR test result.
South Surrey’s Marlane Jones was hit with a $5,700 fine after she travelled to the U.S. to buy gas a day after Minister of Border Security Bill Blair said such trips were OK. In his announcement, Blair gave permission to southern B.C. residents to travel to the U.S. to buy essential goods as floods disrupted the supply chain in the province.
Border guards, however, were operating on the understanding that returning Canadians must show proof of a PCR test on arrival, even though the federal government nixed the requirement.
The federal government reversed the allowance once again, and as of December, CBSA officials require a PCR test for returning Canadians.
The Canadian Press story focuses on a Winnipeg woman who was 19 years old when her ex-boyfriend posted explicit images of her online without her consent.
Kate Sinclaire decided to confront her abuser and began making pornography that she said celebrates all genders and helps people take pride in themselves.
But Sinclaire worried that a parliamentary committee in Ottawa studying the porn industry could make it more difficult or impossible for people like her to keep working.
The committee, which is studying how to protect the privacy and reputations of people who appear on pornography websites, isn’t interested in hearing from people who have nuanced view on the topic, Sinclaire said.
Perhaps one of the more unusual crime stories of 2021, a Newton man who says he liberated an abandoned pet rabbit from the mean streets of Clayton Heights on May 21 has been charged with theft under $5,000 and possession of stolen property.
Warren Brundage says he was called to the neighbourhood by “outraged” residents who wanted it rescued. He says he scooped “Beans” the rabbit up off the street about a block away from where its owners reside.
You might say the Surrey RCMP’s subsequent pursuit of Brundage has been relentless. Brundage was arrested by the Vancouver Police on a Surrey RCMP warrant on Nov. 17 after the VPD ran a routine check on his plates and the warrant popped up. He says he was handcuffed and put in the back seat of a squad car.
Surrey residents were infected with COVID-19 at more than three times the rate per capita in 2020 than those in the South Surrey and White Rock area, according to figures from the BC Centre for Disease Control.
In a Jan. 6 update, BCCDC reported 16,109 cases of COVID-19 in the Surrey local health area from Jan. 1, 2020 to the end of December. During that same period, there were 1,131 confirmed cases in South Surrey and White Rock.
Unfortunately, the numbers from early January pale in comparison to today. As of November, Surrey had 42,451 cases and South Surrey/White Rock had 3,792 cases. The November numbers are expected to be much higher, as Omicron had yet to take hold of the province when the data was last updated.
The U.S. inn owner who pleaded guilty to helping seven foreign nationals circumvent Canada’s border checks by directing them into South Surrey via his 0 Avenue property has been sentenced to time served and probation for his behaviour.
The penalty for Robert Boule – imposed Dec. 17 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver – comprises two concurrent sentences: a 12-month suspended sentence plus 15 months probation, for providing the assistance, and a 30-day jail term followed by 30 months probation for breaching a bail condition that “unequivocally” prohibited him from engaging in the activity.
Staff and patrons of an iconic Marine Drive restaurant are mourning the death of its founder, who “lost a hard fought battle with COVID-19.”
Charlie Don’t Surf owner John Carroll died Oct. 7, according to a post that afternoon on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“We lost a mentor, and the world lost a White Rock legend,” the post reads.
Carroll, who started Charlie’s – located at 15011 Marine Dr. – in 1985, was known to be “a sassy, hard working man who was always eager to give feedback and to make his vision of the world a reality,” it continues.
Many British Columbians waited months to find out when they could once again gather with people outside their household, beyond just the trusted 10.
And on May 25, they got an answer. The province laid out a four-step plan for getting back to normal as COVID-19 vaccinations rise and cases and hospitalizations drop.
As of May 25, outdoor social gatherings were limited to 10, but indoor social gatherings with up to five visitors or one additional household were also allowed.
The plan said that if vaccination rates hit 70 per cent of eligible individuals, social gatherings would return to normal and large organized events could resume if hospitalizations dropped by Sept. 7.
We all now know that didn’t pan out.
Formerly known as the Pacific Inn Resort and Conference Centre, the landmark hotel was referred to by locals as the Pink Palace because of its unusual bright pink colour scheme.
It was recently painted white.
One Surrey couple is celebrating after winning $25,000 in a recent 6/49 lottery draw.
Dalbir and Gurpreet Grewal scored one of 20 additional prizes announced Feb. 13.
They bought the winning ticket at the Walmart store on 88th Avenue, and Dalbir later stopped at a gas station to check it.
“I checked it on the self checker and had to check it a few times because I just couldn’t believe it,” she said in a BCLC news release.
Areas of Cloverdale Fairgrounds are lit up for a Lumagica Surrey event in December.
The “outdoor/indoor global Holiday experience” lights up the pathway of Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, at 64 Avenue and 176 Street, and also the Agriplex building, which serves as a “North Pole” full of food and entertainment. There are photos with Santa, by donation to Cloverdale Community Kitchen.
The “light park” opened Dec. 3 as the first event of its kind in Canada for MK Illumination, which has worked on Surrey’s Bear Creek Park Lights and other “True Light Experiences” in the region. The global company has a Canada West branch located on the Surrey/Langley border.