2012: A look back at the last year

2012: A look back at the last year

From crime and politics, to premiere sports events, Surrey and
North Delta saw an eventful year.


• Darshan and Kalvin Shanasaia welcome their son Aditya Paul Shanasaia into the world – Surrey’s first baby of 2012. Aditya is born at Surrey Memorial Hospital at 3:19 a.m. weighing nearly seven pounds.


• Sophie Tweed-Simmons – along with her parents Gene Simmons (of the rock band KISS) and actress Shannon Tweed – cut the ribbon to the new Sophie’s Place, a resource centre for abused kids located at The Centre for Child Development building in Surrey. The centre gets a financial kickstart of $150,000 from new civil forfeiture laws.


• Several ecstasy-related deaths in B.C. are found to have been the result of the party drug being tainted by a toxic additive called PMMA.


• Notorious Surrey-based contractor Arthur Moore is jailed two months for contempt of court after repeatedly exposing dozens of unprotected workers – including teenage girls and recovering addicts – to asbestos contamination.


• Metro Vancouver politicians are up in arms after Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester tells them more Agricultural Land Reserve farmland should be sacrificed to make way for more port expansion and the jobs that will bring.


• Hoping to make the game safer for thousands of players from the Sunshine Coast to Hope, the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA) overwhelmingly votes to eliminate bodychecking at the recreational (house or C) level. At a meeting in Cloverdale, representatives of the 42 minor hockey associations under the umbrella of PCAHA vote 123-39 in favour of the resolution. The decision affects more than 300 minor hockey teams in the Pee Wee (11-12 year-olds), Bantam (13-14) and Midget (15-17) divisions.


• Surrey-Fleetwood NDP MLA Jagrup Brar begins a welfare challenge, living for a month on $610, the amount a single person on social assistance receives. He spends the following 30 days living in boarding houses in Surrey and Vancouver to draw attention to his belief that welfare rates should be raised.


• Surrey logs its first murder of 2012. The body of Patrick Martin is found near David Brankin Elementary at 92A Avenue and 128 Street. Later in January, the family of the 41-year-old makes a plea to the public for any information leading to details of his death.


• The City of Surrey launches a plan to create 14 new off-leash dog parks in the city by 2021. The current population of 127,000 pooches in Surrey is expected to grow to 154,000 in the next decade.


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• New Census results show Surrey’s population has grown by 18.6 per cent to 468,251, an increase of more than 73,000 since the previous count in 2006. Mayor Dianne Watts says Surrey could pass Vancouver in population in as little as 10 years, but one demographer predicts it will take “a couple of decades.”


• B.C. Transportation Ministry officials say there’s no way to turn the old Port Mann Bridge into an elevated park. Metro Vancouver officials had suggested it become a greenway, rather than be torn down.


• About a dozen Surrey basketball players  from the Tamanawis Wildcats are arrested by Kelowna RCMP after a pair of toy guns catches the attention of police. Perceiving a potential danger to the public at a crowded mall, police respond with general duty officers, a helicopter, an emergency response  team and police dogs. They seize two replica handguns and the team is subsequently released without charges.


• Paul Thomson and Carla Henderson, clients at Semiahmoo House Society, get engaged. The two develop a strong bond while recovering from traumatic brain injuries.


• SFU Surrey marks its 10th anniversary with an open house. It was 2002 when the local campus, nestled in a corner of Central City Shopping Centre (then Surrey Place Mall), opened. TechBC (the Technical University of B.C.) was closed by the provincial government and its students and facilities were transferred to SFU. While there were only about 565 students enrolled at the time, there are now about 7,000 full- and part-time students served by the Surrey campus.


• The property formerly home to the Surrey Public Market at 64 Avenue and King George Boulevard finally sells to a developer who wants to turn it into a mix of residential and commercial buildings. For years prior, Surrey councillors described the empty building as an eyesore.


• Road tolls throughout Metro Vancouver are raised by the region’s mayors as one possible new way to fund TransLink. They also suggest the province either allow a new regional carbon tax or a vehicle levy as shorter-term measures while the road pricing concept is explored.


• Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts insists TransLink get a full performance audit before any move to increase taxes or tolls.



• A new 20-year RCMP contract is signed with most B.C. municipalities – including Surrey – that promises improved accountability. But some municipalities hold off ratifiying it, citing questions over the long-term costs.


• Surrey Memorial Hospital records 269 cases of C. difficile infections – the most of any hospital in the Fraser Health region.


• Premier Christy Clark orders an audit of TransLink and says she won’t consider approving a vehicle levy or any other new funding source until the search for savings is complete.


• Resident Jude Hannah helps found ReNewton community association for citizens wanting to stand up for the Newton area.


• Immaculate Conception Church in North Delta displays a replica of the Shroud of Turin. The exhibit includes a life-sized photograph, printed on linen, of the cloth relic believed by many Christians as being the shroud in which the crucified body of Jesus Christ was wrapped for burial.


• In an effort to end scores of needless deaths by fire, the Surrey Fire Department joins the province in cracking down on a lack of functioning smoke alarms. Surrey Fire Chief Len Garis spearheads an education campaign with several partners, along with the province.


• A Surrey landlord is fined $115,000 for failing to keep Kwantlen Park Manor in a state of good repair. It is the first time the Residential Tenancy Branch had levied such a penalty against a landlord in B.C.


• A coroner says a beating likely led to the death of North Delta’s Gerald McDonald. Despite that, no charges of assault are laid against the attackers because Crown doesn’t believe it has enough evidence for a successful conviction.


• Ravinder Binning pleads guilty in the 2008 crash that killed Surrey’s Dilbag and Bakhshish Badh and is sentenced to four years in jail.


• Teachers across B.C. stage a three-day strike to oppose government legislation they say will harm students and teachers. Since the September before, they had been refusing to complete report cards or carry out lunchtime and recess supervision and later limited volunteer and extracurricular work.



• Environmental watchdog Deb Jack is named the City of Surrey’s Good Citizen of the Year for her tireless commitment to this city’s ecology. Jack is president and founding member of the Surrey Environmental Partners, as well as vice-president of the White Rock/Surrey Naturalists.


• Drivers begin paying an extra two cents a litre in gas tax for TransLink. The tax increase from 15 to 17 cents per litre generates $40 million per year to cover TransLink’s contribution to building the Evergreen Line.


• Tens of thousands of people participate in the annual Vaisahki celebration and parade in Surrey. In its 12th year, Surrey’s Sikh harvest-season festival, an event full of colour, food, music and prayer, is estimated to be the largest in the world outside of India.


• Surrey drafts a ban on the chaining of dogs after seeing an extremely graphic presentation from a group pushing for the ban. “I don’t think there’s anyone at this council table that table that has any disagreement with what you are proposing,” Mayor Dianne Watts tells the presenters.


• Manmeet Singh, 27, is ordered to stand trial for first-degree murder in connection with a fatal attack at a Surrey newspaper office in 2011 that ended with the death of his wife, Ravinder Kaur Bhangu, 24. Singh is next in court in May 2013.



• The province approves new tools for TransLink to go after repeat fare evaders who refuse to pay their fines. ICBC will deny insurance and licence renewals, while TransLink can use bill collectors.


• Kinder Morgan says it wants to more than double the capacity of its Trans Mountain pipeline through Surrey from 300,000 barrels per day now to 750,000. If approved, it means a roughly five-fold increase in the number of oil tankers loading at the terminal in Burnaby, from about 60 now to 300.


• A 48-year-old electrician from Surrey straps bombs to his body and takes his ex-girlfriend hostage in Kamloops. Police say they were unable to find his body, let alone determine the manner of his death. The woman who was held hostage is eventually released unharmed.


• The Leader first reports the casino in Newton may be on the move to a new South Surrey location at 10 Avenue and 168 Street. The public information sessions and negotiations with the city last all year, with no determination on the project expected until Jan. 15, 2013.


• The Missing Women’s Inquiry led by Wally Oppal wraps up months of hearings into how serial killer Robert Pickton was able to elude police for so long. The inquiry heard of a series of missteps by Vancouver Police and RCMP and that Mounties failed to take Pickton up on an offer to interview him or search his farm well before his eventual arrest.


• Steven Mulligan-Brum is sentenced to seven years in jail for shooting 16-year-old Adem Aliu in a Surrey street in 2010.


• An 11-year career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) comes to an end for North Delta native Davis Sanchez. A cornerback with the B.C. Lions, Sanchez decides to call it a career. The 37-year-old retires as a three-time divisional all-star and four-time Grey Cup champion.



• Area mayors turn down a provincial government offer to take up two seats on TransLink’s board of directors. Some call it an attempt to co-opt the mayors’ council without giving elected representatives real power over TransLink spending. They plan to push the province for more meaningful reform.


• Developers unveil what will be Surrey’s largest tower at 50 storeys in City Centre. The bottom floor will house a restaurant for the Civic Hotel, while the 13 floors above will have 160 suites for hotel guests. The top 34 floors will contain 330 residential units.


• Surrey Board of Education forms a working group to determine how to best address homophobia in schools, after a group of students and teachers asked the board to follow other school districts and create an anti-homophobia policy.


• A pair of Surrey natives head off to the NCAA in the fall have their names called at the National Hockey League Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. Forward Jujhar Khaira of the Prince George Spruce Kings is taken by the Edmonton Oilers, while defenceman Reece Willcox is called by the Philadelphia Flyers.


• The new team leading the Surrey Board of Trade is formally inducted at its 48th annual general meeting and President’s Dinner. Surrey-North Delta Leader Publisher Jim Mihaly is named president.



• After three days of athletic competition, thousands of the province’s best young athletes gather at Holland Park for the closing ceremonies of a successful BC Summer Games in Surrey. More than 2,300 athletes have competed in over 20 sports, with 375 medals won by the representatives of the eight zones. Zone 6 (Vancouver Island-Central Coast) tops the medal standings with 101, 38 of which were gold. Zone 3 (Fraser Valley), which includes Surrey, is second in the overall tally, nine medals shy of top spot with 94. In all, Fraser Valley athletes win 34 gold, 32 silver and 28 bronze medals.


• Surrey learns it will get a fifth MP and a new federal riding come the next federal election as part of a complex redrawing of electoral district boundaries. The change is proposed by the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission, which wants to add six new electoral districts in B.C.


• Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer joins the list of B.C. Liberals who won’t be seeking re-election next year.


• Intense opposition forces TransLink to retreat from a plan to chop taxi subsidies for frail seniors and the disabled as part of a plan to reform HandyDart service.


• Air India bomb-maker Inderji Singh Reyat loses appeal of his conviction for perjury at the trial that led to the acquittal of his two alleged co-conspirators. He’s serving a nine-year prison sentence for repeatedly lying under oath about his knowledge of the terrorist plot.


• A plan by a breakaway group of Hells Angels to set up a new chapter for the motorcycle gang in Surrey will be met with resistance, Surrey’s top Mountie vows. Supt. Bill Fordy responds to a report some of the bikers calling themselves the West Point chapter aim to set up shop in Surrey.


• FedEx Freight begins construction on a new $20-million freight hub in North Surrey that will handle shipments throughout western Canada. The company cites confidence in B.C.’s growth outlook and the region’s strategic position for the decision to locate the 46,000-sq.-ft. complex in Surrey.


• Natasha Warren pleads guilty to impaired driving, dangerous driving causing death and failure to stop at an accident in the 2011 crash that killed Surrey’s Kassandra Kaulius, 22. Warren is expected to be sentenced tomorrow (Dec. 28).

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• Fraser River sockeye come back too weak to allow any commercial fishing or recreational angling. The run size is estimated at 2.3 million, down from five million a year earlier.


• Location, location, location. Surrey is one of five cities named for having the best real estate investments in Canada. Online publication businessreview.ca says Surrey, along with Barrie, Ont., Red Deer, Alberta, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, as has some of the best opportunities for real estate investment in the country.


• Surrey’s Canadian Blood Services clinic moves to Guildford. The new clinic is located at 15285 101 Ave.


• A Surrey toddler plunges to her death after falling from a Whalley apartment. The two-and-a-half year-old girl left the room where she was watching TV, climbed on a chair on the balcony, and fell nine storeys.


• Former TV reporter Ron Bencze is sentenced to four years prison after pleading guilty to molesting a Surrey boy over several years. Bencze has since sought to appeal his sentence.


• A strong performance at a four-day selection camp in Toronto earns North Delta native Nic Petan a trip to Slovakia. Petan, a member of the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL), is named to the under-18 national team which competes at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament.



• A push by activists to stamp out the serving of shark fin’s soup gains support from many Metro Vancouver councils, including Surrey’s.


• TransLink scales back its planned service levels for the new Highway 1 RapidBus over the Port Mann Bridge as well as a promised B-Line express bus in Surrey on King George Boulevard and 104 Avenue. Officials cite a lack of funding due to a combination of challenges, including declining fuel tax revenue.


• TransLink announce plans to start charging fees at all park-and-rides, ending the free use of some, such as the South Surrey park-and-ride.


• Delta hosts its inaugural Luminary Festival. Visitors to Delsom Estates are treated to live entertainment, food, lantern-making stations and a Parade of Lights around the pond at Sunstone Park.


• Hundreds of people, including Fauja Singh Chindsa, 101, participate in Surrey’s first International Music Marathon.


• The Greater Vancouver Home Builders Association (GVHBA) undergoes a renovation as it passes the keys to a new head of the lobby group. The GVHBA names South Surrey’s Bob de Wit to replace retiring CEO Peter Simpson.


• A developer is slapped with fines and a damage deposit totalling more than $175,000 for cutting down trees in Newton in August. About $150,000 is a security deposit to ensure restoration work in the park is still viable in three years, and $25,400 is a fine for what the city believes were 14 trees protected by Surrey’s bylaw taken down on private properties.


• Writer Ed Griffin, First Nations elder June Laiter, and Ukrainian artist and advocate Gladys Andreas are named as Surrey Civic Treasures for 2012 for their commitment to preserving and promoting the city’s diverse and unique culture.


• Premier Christy Clark pledges to begin work to replace the George Massey tunnel and ease intense traffic congestion on Highway 99 in Metro Vancouver. But says said it’s too early to say if the new bridge or tunnel – to be built over 10 years – will be tolled.



• A provincial audit of TransLink finds up to $41 million in annual savings might be found – partly by cutting transit service frequency – but Transportation Minister Mary Polak agrees the findings don’t amount to a “silver bullet” and that more sustainable funding will be needed.


• The Cohen Inquiry into the Fraser River’s declining sockeye salmon runs calls for an a freeze on new salmon farms off northeast Vancouver Island and says salmon aquaculture there may have to be banned entirely if it cannot be proven by 2020 to be safe.


• For the first time in three decades, the number of students attending Surrey and White Rock public schools drops – by a marginal 72 students. Despite this year’s “blip,” Surrey Board of Education Chair Laurae McNally said all indications are that school enrolment will grow by about 400-500 students for at least the next couple of years.


• Surrey launches an ambitious and highly controversial new waste pick-up services, with haulers picking up organics, including kitchen scraps, every week, while taking away regular garbage and recycling every two weeks.


• Sherrold Haddad, owner of the Flag Mitsubishi in Guildford sells the automotive business that for the last quarter-century has been recognizable by the world’s largest free-standing flagpole and the 3,200-sq.-ft. Canadian flag at its site. “It’s time, I’m not getting any younger and I want to do other things,” says Haddad, explaining the decision to sell his dealership to Barnes Wheaton.


• Hundreds of people attend a candlelight vigil in Surrey’s Holland Park to pay their respects to Port Coquitlam teen Amanda Todd and other victims of bullying. Todd, 15, committed suicide two weeks earlier after posting a video online detailing the relentless harassment she had endured


• Delta Police warn of a wave of residential break-ins.  The thieves are breaking in through the back doors of homes in the North Delta area, in one case stealing a unique 200-year-old scroll.


• Fleetwood residents take a stand against a trail being planned for a greenspace behind their homes. They fear it will increase transience and crime in their area if it’s built.


• South Surrey’s David Thiele raises the alarm over smokers at the B.C. Cancer Agency’s Fraser Valley Centre in North Surrey, adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital. There’s been a no-smoking rule at the hospital since 2008, but it hasn’t been effectively enforced.


• The Leader reveals that City of Surrey staff  are calling for a municipal budget that will increase taxes and utilities charges on the average home by $100 annually, or $250 if the home has a suite.


• Elderly wife-killer Sebastiano Damin appeals his second-degree murder conviction in the 2009 death of Surrey grandmother Maria Catroppa, 69. Later in the year his appeal is unanimously denied by three appeal court justices.


• A young man pleads guilty to second-degree murder in the daylight beating death of 15-year-old Laura Szendrei in North Delta’s Mackie Park in 2011. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 2013. There is an application to have the teen, who was 17 when he killed Szendrei, sentenced as an adult.


• Mukhtiar Panghali, convicted in 2011 of killing his pregnant wife Manjit Panghali, loses his appeal and his life sentence is upheld.



• Surrey RCMP Const. Adrian Oliver, 28, dies in a car crash while on duty. He is the fifth Surrey officer to be killed while on duty since 1975. He receives a full regimental funeral with thousands in attendance, including his twin brother, girlfriend and father, who are all RCMP officers.


• B.C. pot reform advocates celebrate Washington State’s historic vote to legalize and tax marijuana, saying it adds momentum to their campaign for change here.


• TransLink warns the Pattullo Bridge might have to be shut down for years until a replacement is built if it can’t be upgraded to address growing concerns about seismic and other safety risks.


• Most transit fares will go up at least 10 per cent in January, TransLink announces.


• Danielle Merasty, 22, is sentenced to eight years in prison for setting Mehgan Pronick on fire in 2011, severely disfiguring her, over a stolen bicycle.


• A flood from a water pipe break puts Surrey Memorial Hospital’s ER under water, forcing surgery cancellations and diversion of patients to other hospitals.


• Transit advocates are outraged the new #555 express bus over the Port Mann Bridge won’t include a stop in Surrey. The province originally envisioned a transit exchange and park-and-ride near the new 156 Street bus ramps, but TransLink says the idea never advanced.


• Fraser Surrey Docks proposes to build a new coal export terminal. Climate change activists are angry the project can be approved by Port Metro Vancouver without the city’s consent or any other regulatory approvals.


• Surrey-Panorama MLA Stephanie Cadieux switches ridings to run for Surrey-Cloverdale – where she lives – in the next provincial election in May, while former Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal joins the race for the B.C. Liberals in Cadieux’s current constituency.



• The new Port Mann Bridge opens to traffic, with the promise of reducing long-standing gridlock in the Guildford area. The span proves popular with drivers, but an opinion poll suggest that once discounted toll rates expire, drivers will seek out free crossing – such as the Pattullo and Alex Fraser bridges – across the Fraser River. When snow hits the Lower Mainland, there is also chaos and controversy when so-called “ice bombs” fall from the new Port Mann cables, damaging dozens of vehicles.


• The northeast third of the South Fraser Perimeter Road opens and is billed as the free alternative route for drivers wanting to get to the Pattullo Bridge to avoid paying tolls on the new Port Mann. But the reduction from four lanes to two where the SFPR connects to King George Boulevard becomes a major new traffic bottleneck.


• Two men are charged in the murder of SFU student Maple Batalia, 19, who was gunned down in City Centre on Sept. 28, 2011. Batalia’s ex-boyfriend Gurjinder (Gary) Dhaliwal and his “associate” Gursimar Singh Bedi are facing murder charges.


• A 43-year-old woman is found brutally beaten and left for dead in Whalley. Police say she is the victim of a serious assault and suffered life-threatening injuries, including broken bones.  Some people in North Surrey are angry the police did not immediately issue a public warning about the attack. Investigators urge any witnesses to come forward.

Surrey North Delta Leader