The year 2018 was a huge one for Burnaby and my own life.
Personally, I was hired in April to become the new editor of the NOW after longtime editor Pat Tracy retired – fulfilling a dream that began when I used to deliver the paper to doors in north Burnaby.
It’s been a whirlwind ever since.
This past week has given me a chance to reflect on the events that made up 2018 in Burnaby.
There were plenty of amazing stories and moments, but five particular days stand out as shocking in what they produced.
You as readers look them over in the paper and online, but as journalists we live them. We find out about them before most people do, and absorb and process their details before our fingers ever hit the keyboard. There is nothing quite like being on the scene of a press conference as shocking news is announced or witnessing news as it happens.
These five shocking days, of course, haven’t actually ended as the clock struck midnight. Their reverberations are still being felt.
In no particular order of importance, here are the five most shocking days in Burnaby in 2018:
Oct. 20 – This was the day Derek Corrigan’s reign ended as mayor of Burnaby. I could tell that Mike Hurley was making some inroads during the campaign, but I didn’t actually see him beating a mayor that had won so many previous elections. It just seemed too much to expect. Oh how wrong was I. As the polls started rolling in, Hurley’s lead just kept growing and growing. Corrigan had been on council since 1987 – the year after I graduated high school. Backed with a massive warchest, incumbent mayors like Corrigan are nearly impossible to topple by non-politicians. I still remember gaping at my computer screen – incredulous - as the lead grew to an insurmountable level. Simply shocking.
Sept. 10 – This was the day Ibrahim Ali was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen. What made it so shocking for me was how it came more than a year after Shen’s death. The longer a murder investigation drags on, the harder it is to catch someone. Shen’s death had become a bit of a political football during the early days of the civic election campaign, with mayoral candidates arguing over who took safety more seriously. That become the talking point as people started to give up on anyone being charged. Then, suddenly, a press conference was announced. A charge had been laid. It felt so out of the blue I had trouble catching my breath all day, especially with all the trolls freaking out because it was a Syrian refugee who had been charged. In the end, what stands out is a group of investigators who never gave up trying to solve this case.
May 29 – That was the day the federal Liberal government announced we (meaning Canada) would be buying the Trans Mountain pipeline. For Burnaby residents fighting the pipeline, the news was staggering. Spending $4.5 billion (yeah, in their dreams) of our tax dollars to make sure the project got done was a nearly unprecedented move. I was reading the stories about the plans wondering if I was being duped by the Onion or the Beaverton. But, alas, no.
Aug. 30 – That was the day theTrans Mountain pipeline project was delivered a stunning blow by the Federal Court of Appeal. The court said the National Energy Board did not properly consult First Nations about the project, adding that the process foolishly did not consider the impact of increased tanker traffic. What made it so shocking was that pipeline opponents – including the City of Burnaby – had lost a long list of court challenges. Most thought it would be more of the same. Instead, it forced the NEB to go back to the drawing board.
Aug. 16 – That was the day Camp Cloud was raided by Burnaby RCMP officers and then torn down by the City of Burnaby. The fact it was torn down wasn’t necessarily a surprise – although there were hints of a possible compromise. But it was still shocking when it actually happened in the early hours of the day. Fortunately, ace reporter Kelvin Gawley was on the scene to document what happened. It was ugly at times and quite sad as the camp residents wondered aloud what they were going to do next. By the next morning, you would have never known Camp Cloud even existed. The city workers put it into overdrive to clear every sign of the camp.