Cloverdale's Sandra Hemelspeck was greeted by a cloud of coloured powder at the finish line of the Color Me Rad 5K run at Holland Park on May 23.

2015: A year in review

The Surrey-North Delta Leader looks back at the newsmakers from the last 12 months.

  • Dec. 29, 2015 2:00 p.m.



• Completion delays and hold-back of payments to builders cause a huge pile of liens against the new city hall in City Centre. The 180,000-sq.-ft. building was due to be complete by September 2013, but ran late five months.


• Al Cleaver, former fire chief of Surrey who championed preserving the city’s history and heritage, dies at the age of 88. Cleaver retired as fire chief in 1986 after serving 28 years.




• Surrey graduate Anthony Hope is named a Loran Scholar, landing him a university scholarship worth up to $100,000.


• Boxer Eric Basran is awarded the silver medal at the Canadian Youth Boxing Championships held in Quebec City.


• Second World War veterans Gerry Gaudet and John Thompson are given the Legion of Honour award at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Whalley branch from the Consul General of France as part of the 70th anniversary of D-Day celebrations.


• Ian Jarvis is ousted as CEO of TransLink in an attempt to shore up public confidence heading into the transit tax referendum. But Jarvis is kept on as an advisor at the same pay. Mayors also recruit Jim Pattison to act as a watchdog on tax funds.


• Surrey spends between $200,000 and $300,000 on the “yes” campaign promoting a 0.5-per-cent hike in taxes to pay for improved transit in the region. The proposal goes down to defeat in July.




• The province announces Surrey Provincial Court will undergo a $24.3-million expansion that will include three additional courtrooms and two more hearing rooms. Construction is expected to start early next year and be completeD sometime in 2017.


• One final donation ends a $350,000 campaign to buy a key tool for surgeons who treat breast cancer patients. The Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre places an order for the SPY imaging system, which provides instant images of breast tissue during reconstructive surgery.


• The Fleetwood Park Dragons win their first provincial title during their sixth try, with Jordan Taylor coaching. The team qualified for five provincial championship tournaments in its first 20 years, but finally takes home the prize in 2015.


• Surrey native Andrew Hammond puts his name into the National Hockey League record book, as the Ottawa Senators’ netminder ties an NHL record in a 2-1 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes, allowing two or fewer goals in his first 12 career starts. Hammond ties a record held by Frank (Mr. Zero) Brimsek of the Boston Bruins, who set the standard in the 1938-1939 season.




• Surrey School District stops offering adult education courses to graduated adults after the provincial government cuts funding to such programs.


• Surrey’s Sarbjit Bains pleads guilty to killing three people in 2013 – Delta’s Amritpal Saran and New Westminster women Karen Nabors and Jill Lyons. He receives an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 18 years.


• The falling Canadian dollar prompts fewer B.C. residents to cross-border shop in the Washington State. The trend is good news for B.C. businesses, especially tourism operators. By the end of the year the loonie falls below 72 cents.


• 22-year-old Arun Bains, the nephew of Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains, is shot and killed in Surrey.


• Surrey takes down “No TransLink Tax” signs, causing outrage from those opposing the tax. Bylaw officers confirm about 20 signs had been taken down, with Surrey’s mayor saying they were in direct contravention of Surrey bylaws.


• Surrey’s park bylaw is taken to court. Christopher Lewis says he has been warned and fined for walking in Surrey parks at night. He sues the city over the bylaw, which he maintains violates his rights.


• On the heels of a spate of shootings in six weeks, 700 people pack the gymnasium of Tamanawis Secondary School to attend a forum on crime. Surrey’s top cop tells the crowd they should be concerned, but not fearful.


• Due to budgetary constraints, the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association announces it will nix two signature community events for the year: The Cloverdale Blueberry Festival and the annual Halloween costume parade. The Halloween event ends up going ahead in October.




• Yosef Jomo Gopaul is sentenced to 10 years prison for the deadly attack of Surrey mom Julie Paskall, who died after Gopaul hit her in the head with a rock during a botched purse snatching in December 2013. He also receives another two years for the violent robbery of another woman two weeks before Paskall’s attack.


• Russell Atma Bidesi is convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of Kacey Rogers in 2012. He has yet to be sentenced.


• Cloverdale concrete contractor David Jorge wins MasterChef Canada and the $100,000 prize.


• Hot dog in car calls spike in Surrey. City officials believe the public is acting quickly and sensitively after the so-called Brookswood Six tragedy where six dogs died in a sweltering truck in 2014.


• Violent crime soars in Surrey during the first quarter of the year compared to the same period in 2014. Violent crime rises by 40 per cent during the first three months of 2015 compared to the first quarter the year before.


• Michael Wilson is named the City of Surrey’s Citizen of the Year for 2015. Wilson is best known as the brainchild behind the Phoenix Society Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Centre.


• Khalsa School students Mehar Kaur Sahota  and Prabhleen Kaur Sandhu win 28th-annual Spelling Bee of Canada competition in Toronto. Sahota’s winning word was “calmative.”




• Surrey couple John Nuttall and Amanda Korody are found guilty of planning a Canada Day 2013 bombing at the B.C. legislature in Victoria. The conviction is not entered, however, as defence lawyers argue the pair were entrapped by the RCMP.


• Through a program called Tomatosphere, students at Khalsa School grow tomato plants from seeds that have been exposed to space-like conditions, to investigate the effects of space on the growth of food that could be used to support long term space travel.


• Protests over rising real estate prices reach a crescendo and Vancouver’s mayor urges the province to help by increasing the transfer tax when high-end homes are sold. By fall B.C.’s finance minster confirms that’s under serious consideration.


• Medical marijuana patients win a Supreme Court ruling giving them the right to use cannabis in cookies and other products.


• Three local athletes hear their names called at the National Hockey League Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida. Parker Wotherspoon of the Tri-City Americans is selected by the New York Islanders, while Devante Stephens of the Kelowna Rockets is claimed by the Buffalo Sabres. Also picked is Matt Bradley, claimed by the Montreal Canadiens. Bradley was a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers.


• Country superstar Shania Twain (photo) visits Hjorth Road Elementary School to open Western Canada’s first Shania Kids Can program to help less-fortunate inner-city kids.


• A City of Surrey order for 100 new police officers quickly becomes a political football in Ottawa. The minister responsible says there are 20 new Mounties on the ground in Surrey, however a Leader investigation indicates there are no new officers. As of December, there are 75 new officers in place, according to Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy.




• Cloverdale father Colin Hill, 42, is shot dead during a home invasion where he was trying to protect his family. Khouri Lamar Green is later charged with second-degree murder but has yet to stand trial.


• Just eight weeks prior to the next PACWEST (Pacific Western Athletic Conference) season, student athletes at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) are stunned to learn it could be their last. Coaches and athletes in the KPU Eagles Athletic Department receive an email which announces “important changes in the direction for KPU’s varsity athletics program.” Minutes later, a notice on the KPU Athletics website details the changes, which mean “winding down varsity athletics’ activities” and withdrawing from PACWEST over the next year.


• Charges against Delta Police Const. Jordan MacWilliams, who shot a man during an armed stand-off outside a New Westminster casino in 2012, are dropped.


• Retired Surrey firefighter Bill McNamara, 74, returns home from the World Police and Fire Games with eight more medals, bringing his career total to 51 and giving him an induction into the first-ever games Hall of Fame.


• A fan’s facebook campaign goes viral for Surrey’s Percy Hayes, the “real” Santa Claus. Victoria’s Shawn Slavin discovers the former Guildford Town Centre Sanata lives in a retirement home and is celebrating his 84th birthday.


• The TransLink plebiscite on an extra 0.5-per-cent sales tax in Metro Vancouver to fund transit expansion is defeated. The 62-per-cent rejection leaves area mayors and the provincial government at a continued impasse on how to build projects like Surrey light rail.


• Metro Vancouver bans all lawn sprinkling for the first time in a decade as the drinking water supply declines amid severe drought conditions. It follows a winter of record low snow packs and mounting concern for fish.




A 70-year-old South Surrey woman is sexually assaulted in her home during an attack police call “repulsive.” Weeks later, Langley’s Stephen Thomas Morse is arrested and charged.


• The SPCA seizes 57 animals from a rural property in South Cloverdale, all suffering from various stages of neglect and malnutrition.


• Horse and cattle ranchers stock up on hay as a protracted drought and wild fires continue to cause both supply shortages and increased prices. Many farms are waiting for rains in hopes it will bring them another crop.


• Delta Alliance for Wellness and Networking Society celebrates its 25th anniversary. The centre provides services to adults with mental illnesses.




• Surrey Coun. Tom Gill pitches a plan to build a truck parking facility in an environmentally sensitive area near 16 Avenue and 192 Street. The public expresses outrage at the notion trucks could be spilling oils and detergents into the fish-rich Little Campbell River nearby.


• SFU, which has a campus in Surrey, celebrates 50 years of higher education. Surrey composer Brett Janzen helps pen anniversary song.


• A new French Immersion program slated to start at Surrey’s Cougar Creek Elementary is cancelled before it begins due to low enrolment, despite the fact there are wait lists for the language program in the Surrey School District.


• Vancouver Canuck players Henrik and Daniel Sedin launch Clubhouse 36 in Surrey, a program that provides inner-city students with after-school and holiday activities they might not normally be able to access.


• Surrey native Christian Covington, a former defensive lineman with the Rice Owls of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, cracks the roster of an National Football League (NFL) team and is on the field for the Houston Texans when they host the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of the 2015 season. Covington was selected by the Texans in the sixth round of the NFL Draft in May.


• Iron Soldier Capt. Trevor Greene takes steps using a customized exoskeleton at SFU Surrey, showing the scientific breakthrough built in collaboration between SFU and Innovation Boulevard.


• Royal Westminster Regiment reservist Tajinder Aujla stands as a ceremonial guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, becoming the first baptized Sikh to do so.



• Surrey’s Queen Elizabeth Secondary celebrates its 75th anniversary, inviting former and current students and staff to celebrate the 1940s-era school.


• Surrey’s Evan Archibald dies when a car smashes into a bus shelter at 156 Street and Fraser Highway.


• Justin Trudeau’s Liberals win the federal election and capture five out of six Surrey/Delta seats. The mandate means the new government has major promises to keep, including marijuana legalization, electoral reform and a big push to quickly bring in Syrian refugees.


• TransLink finally launches its long-delayed Compass card payment system and begins closing fare gates. Part of the shift in strategy includes a switch to one-zone payment on all bus routes.


• Surrey artist Don Li-Leger’s Encyclopedia House art installation in The Grove in Newton opens. The doorway to the one-room structure was created out of discarded encyclopedias and other texts.


• Surrey selects its first Poet Laureate. Renée Sarojini Saklikar, author of a book on Air India, will host writing consultations at local libraries.




• Surinderpal Singh Hehar is killed and another man is injured in a shooting outside his home near 152 Street and 66 Avenue. Hehar, a popular member of the Surrey Field Hockey Club, is remembered by many who knew him.


• Fortis BC proposes an LNG plant on Tsawwassen First Nation land and the chief agrees to take it to a vote, which results in rejection in December.


• New Syrian refugees begin to arrive in B.C. amid a huge outpouring of generosity in B.C. communities as local residents prepare to help the newcomers settle in. About 400 Syrian refugees are expected in B.C. in December, followed by another 1,500 in the first few months of 2016.



• Metro Vancouver shelves its plan to build a new garbage incinerator due to declining garbage volumes. More garbage could go to the Delta landfill once Metro stops using Cache Creek in 2016. Incineration opponents in the Fraser Valley declare victory.


• Additional details about the Massey Bridge are announced. The span to replace the Massey Tunnel will be 10 lanes wide, will cost $3.5 billion and will be funded by tolls for 35-60 years. The province aims for a 2017 construction start and completion by 2022.


• Sophon Sek pleads guilty to break-and-enter and is sentenced to a year jail in connection to the 2007 Surrey Six murders. The court hears he led the killers to the apartment door where six men were executed. A manslaughter charge is stayed. Sek is already in jail after pleading guilty to a raft of unrelated gun and drug offences in October.


• Gloria Zerbinos is sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for at least 12 years for the 2012 stabbing death of her mother, Pangiota “Yota” Zerbinos. Gloria is also charged in the murder of another inmate in 2013, while she was in prison awaiting trial for her mom’s death.






Surrey North Delta Leader

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