Cassidy Patton

2014: A look back

For Surrey, it was a busy year for courts and crime, teachers and both sides of the coal issue.

  • Dec. 31, 2014 10:00 a.m.





Surrey teen Karim Meskine, 19, is killed in an alleged robbery and assault in New Westminster. A 16-year-old is charged with second-degree murder.




Brandon Nandan and Shakib Shakib are handed six-year jail sentences for killing 20-year-old Branson Sanders in Surrey and dumping and burning his body in Burnaby in 2011.


Photo: Eileen Mohan, mother of Surrey Six murder victim Chris Mohan, reacts to the convictions of two of her son’s killers, Matthew Johnston and Cody Haevischer.




Surrey’s Jessica Hanley receives a 10-year prison sentence for stabbing her best friend Tashina Rae Sutherland 41 times and killing her in 2012.




A girl is abducted from her home and sexually assaulted. Police make a fast arrest, but it turns out to be the wrong man. Police later arrest Chilliwack’s Cory Schaumleffel, 28, in relation to the attack.


Serena Vermeersch, 17, is coming home from school when she is attacked and killed by the train tracks in Newton. Raymond Lee Caissie is arrested in Vancouver, and is charged with second-degree murder.




Delta Police officer Const. Jordan MacWilliams is charged with second-degree murder after shooting Merhdad Bayrama outside a New Westminster casino in November 2012 following a five-hour standoff.


Surrey’s Andrew Jefferson, a man once dubbed the Falconridge Rapist and who subsequently violent car-jacked a woman in Langley, is deemed a long-term offender, meaning he’ll be strictly monitored after serving his four-year jail term.




Former Delta dog walker Emma Paulsen pleads guilty in connection to six dogs that died while in her care in May. She initially said the dogs had been stolen, but later admitted to leaving them in the back of her truck and later led police to a ditch in Abbotsford where the dead dogs were dumped. Her sentencing is scheduled for January.


Photo: Amanda Miao, 9, a member of the North America Hanyang Arts and Culture Center (Surrey) performs a dance move during a Chinese New Year celebration.



Garry Handlen is arrested in Surrey and charged in the historic murders of Merritt’s Monica Jack in 1978 and Matsqui’s Kathryn-Mary Herbert in 1975. He is charged with first-degree murder in both cases.


After being wrongfully convicted in connection to a 2005 Surrey rape, Gurdev Singh Dhillon’s charges are stayed. However, he already served his four-year jail sentence and been deported to India.


Two men – Matthew Johnston and Cody Haevischer – who were found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder and one of conspiracy to murder in connection with the Surrey Six mass slaughter in 2007, are sentenced to a mandatory life jail term with no chance of parole for 25 years.


Surrey mom Lisa Batstone is charged with second-degree murder in the death of her eight-year-old daughter Teagan Batstone. The girl’s body was discovered in the trunk of a car in South Surrey.


Fifteen-year-old Dario Bartoli dies after being attacked by a group of people in South Surrey. Bartoli’s death is Surrey’s 16th homicide of the year.


Surrey’s Jaylen Sandhu, 17, becomes the city’s 17th murder of the year after he is stabbed multiple times in Guildford in the 16300-block of 88 Avenue.


Surrey Six killer’s brother is charged in connection to the 2007 mass murder. Cody Haevischer’s brother Justin Haevischer is arrested in Edmonton and accused of accessory after the fact to murder.





Photo: Poppy the Wheaton terrier shows his support for striking teachers.




Delta School District announces it will eliminate the equivalent of 17 employees to address a $3-million budget shortfall for the 2014-2015 school year.




Longtime Surrey school trustee and provincial politician Reni Masi announces he’s retiring from politics after nearly 20 years.




Kwantlen Polytechnic University announces it will expand to Surrey City Centre in 2016, opening about 1,600 new student spaces when the campus opens.


Surrey School District reduces staff by the equivalent of 135 people to slice $9 million in order to balance its operating budget for 2014/15.




Public school finally begins for more than 70,000 students in Surrey and 15,500 in Delta after a prolonged and bitter dispute between government and teachers that began in the spring and carried into the new school year, delaying the first day by about three weeks.




Photo: Sophia Shaw of Goh Ballet Academy performs at the Surrey Festival of Dance.




Three new Surrey Civic Treasures are named for 2014. They are potter and ceramic artist Don Hutchinson, fabric artist and dancer/mentor Elizabeth Carefoot and former Surrey Arts Council director and president Eileen Gratland.




Surrey band Good For Grapes wins the top prize in the PEAK Performance Project music competition, taking home $102,700.






Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode says Surrey is 45 police officers short says the city needs to hire them right away.




The new $97-million city hall opens in North Surrey amid much fanfare. North Surrey businesses welcome the move, but critics say it is too expensive and unnecessary.




Barinder Rasode quits the Surrey First civic coalition dominating council. She later reveals she is going after the mayor’s chair in the November election. Her bid is unsuccessful.


Mayor Dianne Watts says she will not run for another term in civic politics. The news sparks a firestorm of speculation about what her plans are and who will replace her. She later reveals she will run for the federal Conservatives in South Surrey-White Rock.




A new waste facility is planned for west Newton. The residential drop-off centre, now referred to an “eco-centre,” will take only residential waste. Metro-Vancouver is financing construction of the $8- to $14-million facility.


Photo: Linda Hepner celebrates her victory in the race for the mayor’s chair.




The cost of running the city soars in 2013 compared to the year prior. Figures show it cost $100 million more, largely due to third-party suppliers and an aggressive “Build Surrey” program that included the $97-million city hall.




The Surrey-North Delta Leader reveals Surrey has only 36 general duty police officers on the ground on any given shift. That fact, and an increase in high-profile crimes, causes public safety to become the leading issue in the upcoming civic election.




Surrey First sweeps city council and dominates the Surrey Board of Education. Linda Hepner is elected mayor and has a full team of backers on council for four years.


Delta Mayor Lois Jackson wins the centre chair by acclamation and says it will be her final term in office. There is little change on council, with all five members of Delta council being re-elected, as is Heather King, a former councillor who lost to Jackson in a bid for the mayor’s chair in 2011.






Milieu Family Services’ Veronica Cowan expands the new Community Kitchen at New Hope Community Church in North Delta. The monthly kitchen is a publicly accessible environment where anyone can cook meals for themselves and/or their families.




Surrey Museum is among several institutions (including the Surrey Art Gallery and Surrey Libraries) to mark the 100th anniversary of the Komagata Maru’s arrival on B.C.’s shores in 1913.




Mohan Tatra, a volunteer with the kidney community, launches new South Asian Chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. Branch. It’s not just for Indo-Canadians. “It doesn’t matter who comes to us,” says Tatra.




Clayton Heights Secondary student Laura Kim donates $10,000 she won from a TELUS contest to the BC SPCA.




Newton residents fed up with crime decide to take back “The Grove.” They decorate fixtures and trees and hold small festivals in a treed area next to the Newton Wave Pool, close to where hockey mom Julie Paskall was fatally attacked.


Photo: Sandra and John Gordon at one of the final showings at the Clova Cinema.




Under financial pressure, Craig Burghardt is forced to close The Clova Cinema. The Cloverdale landmark had been showing movies since 1947.




Thrill the World Surrey attempts a world record of volunteer “zombies” dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1984 Thriller music video.


A 17-year-old couple that attended Clayton Heights Secondary dies in a car crash in Delta. Extra counsellors are brought in to the high school to help students and staff with the loss of Chantal MacLean and Cody Kehler, both avid rugby players.






A 28-day strike by container truckers ends with back-to-work legislation and promises of government action to end rampant rate undercutting within the industry. The port, provincial and federal governments late in the year unveil a reformed system for truck licensing that’s expected to shrink the number of operators.


Licensed home growing of medical marijuana is supposed to end April 1 in favour of a new commercial distribution system. But the federal government’s strategy is disrupted when medical pot users get a court injunction, pending a constitutional challenge expected in 2015, that allows them to temporarily continue growing their own medicine. The shifting marijuana rules divide doctors on whether to prescribe pot, while cities worry about how to handle a rush of would-be commercial pot producers.




The province terminates Fraser Health board chair David Mitchell amid a probe into budget overruns at the health authority and by June CEO Nigel Murray also resigns. The findings of the review launched in 2013 are released in July, recommending a new strategy to reduce overuse of hospital ERs and expand primary and community care.




Two major shutdowns of SkyTrain force an apologetic TransLink to make transit free on B.C. Day and launch a formal review of what went wrong. The findings prompt the agency to commit to $71 million in upgrades to make the system more resistant to similar failures and faster to recover when they do happen. Meanwhile, TransLink again delays the full roll-out of its long-promised Compass Card payment system due to bus reader problems.




Port Metro Vancouver approves a planned coal export terminal at Fraser Surrey Docks despite intense opposition from environmentalists, residents, municipalities and public health officers. The $15-million project is expected to open in the fall of 2015. Climate change activists had hoped to block the flow of U.S. coal through B.C.




Environment Minister Mary Polak refuses to approve Metro Vancouver’s new bylaw banning waste shipments out of the region. The move delights opponents of the regional district’s plan to build a new waste incinerator, which may be thwarted as a result. Metro leaders say the region’s recycling system is threatened because garbage firms that haul waste out of the region will avoid paying regional tipping fees or complying with bans on the dumping of recyclables. Polak assigns MLA Marvin Hunt to study the issues involved.




More than 120 people are arrested attempting to block survey work by Kinder Morgan on Burnaby Mountain. Anti-pipeline activists win a victory when a court throws out most charges against protesters and refuses to extend an injunction, prompting the company to pull out early. The civil disobedience follows a series of legal challenges led by Burnaby and underscores the challenges the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will face on the ground. National Energy Board  hearings are expected to begin in 2015. Most participants will be limited to written statements.




Metro Vancouver mayors decide to go to referendum on a 0.5-per-cent sales tax increase within the region to finance an ambitious expansion of rapid transit and bus service. The referendum, expected to take place in April of 2015, is a provincial condition for new taxes for TransLink. Mayors unveiled their plan for proposed upgrades in June. The choice of a PST increase was a switch from their original preference – a share of the provincial carbon tax, which was rejected by the government.





An All-Surrey final at the B.C. Boys 4A High School Basketball Championship doesn’t happen, but for the first time in the 69-year history of the tournament, two schools from the largest school district in B.C. place in the top three. The Holy Cross Crusaders finish as the runner-up after falling 67-64 to the Sir Winston Churchill Bulldogs in a championship game. The Tamanawis Wildcats, the third place team, lose 68-66 in overtime to the Bulldogs in a semifinal, before defeating the Sardis Falcons 70-56.




In his second trip to the Mastercard Memorial Cup, North Delta native Tristan Jarry is a national champion. Jarry is the starting goaltender for the Edmonton Oil Kings at the four-team tournament in London, Ontario. The tournament features the champions of all three major junior hockey leagues in Canada.




Just seven centimetres away from the gold medal, Christabel Nettey settles for bronze in the women’s long jump at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Nettey is a graduate of Johnston Heights Secondary.




Julia Sugawara makes Canadian rugby history in France, where the national team at the Women’s Rugby World Cup reaches the championship game – only to fall 21-9 to England. The loss is the lone defeat for Canada in five games at the 12-team tournament.




Nathan Tadesse wins the gold medal in the Senior Boys category at the B.C. high School Cross Country Championships. The Grade 12 North Surrey Secondary student finishes the 6.4-kilometre course in 20:35, 13 seconds better than runner-up Sean Bergman of Kelowna Secondary.


A pair of graduates from Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary play in the Grey Cup at BC Place. Adam Berger of the Calgary Stampeders and Kyle Miller of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats were teammates with the school’s Panthers. The Stampeders win and Berger earns a Grey Cup ring.




Panorama Ridge Thunder cruises to five consecutive wins at the B.C. Senior AAA high school boys soccer tournament. Captain Kerman Pannu, a Grade 12 student playing in his final high school soccer game, scores all three goals for the Thunder, with Jas Lally earning the shutout.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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