December 28, 2018 11:31 am

Saskatoon’s top 10 stories of 2018

WATCH: From a tragedy that touched the hearts of millions of people across the world, to heated city council debates, here are the top 10 stories in Saskatoon for 2018.

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As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to look back on stories that generated the most interest and reaction among Global Saskatoon online readers.

From a tragedy that touched the hearts of millions of people across the world, heated city council debates, these were the stories that topped the headlines during the year.

10. North Battleford Amber Alert

The search for a missing six-year-old girl in North Battleford, Sask., on Sept. 16, 2018 after the SUV she was in was stolen resulting in an Amber Alert being issued.

Phillip Bollman / Global News

An Amber Alert was issued on the evening of Sept. 16 after a vehicle with a young girl inside was stolen in North Battleford, Sask.

She was secured in her car seat when the running SUV was stolen late in the afternoon in front of a strip mall.

READ MORE: Amber Alert ended for girl, 6, abducted in Sask.

There were concerns for the girl inside due to her medical conditions; she is autistic and has epilepsy.

The alert was eventually expanded to Alberta and Manitoba.

The Amber Albert was cancelled the following morning after the child was located safely inside the SUV in a remote industrial area in North Battleford.

READ MORE: North Battleford man facing charges after Amber Alert issued for 6-year-old girl

Johnathan Gunville has since pleaded guilty to several charges, including abandoning a child, and theft of a vehicle.

 

9. Former Humboldt Bronco and family killed in crash

Fundraiser to build a playground in memory of Gasper family, killed in hwy 4 collision, is nearing its goal.

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The community of Rosetown was left in a state of shock after a former member of the Humboldt Broncos and his family were killed in a head-on crash in western Saskatchewan.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan man killed in crash along with wife, 3 kids, was former Humboldt Bronco

The SUVs collided head-on north of Elrose on Highway 4 on June 29.

Troy and Carissa Gasper, along with their three children ages six, four and two, were killed in the crash.

The driver and lone occupant of the other SUV, a 71-year-old woman from the Swift Current area, was also killed.

READ MORE: Rosetown in ‘state of shock’ after Highway 4 crash kills young family

Gasper played for the Broncos between 2009 and 2011.

 

8. Fire pits hot topic at Saskatoon city council

Saskatoon city council amends fire pit bylaw as well as encourages people to burn responsibly and respectfully.

File / Global News

Fire pits were a hot topic at Saskatoon city council as councillors debated whether to restrict the hours fire pits could be used in the city.

Councillors eventually voted in favour of restricting fire pit use to between the hours of 2 p.m. and 11 p.m., but it was a close 6-5 vote.

READ MORE: New fire pit burning window effective immediately following Saskatoon council vote

Veteran councillors called the debate one of the most divisive issues they have seen at city hall, with Coun. Darren Hill saying the bylaw “was not our best work.”

Advocates of the restricted hours said it provides some predictability on when people with health issues can enjoy the outdoors.

 

7. Firefighter killed on duty

Darrell James Morrison, a firefighter from Rosetown, Sask., died on the job Nov. 21 when he was struck by a semi while responding to a collision on Highway 4.

Supplied

Residents of Rosetown were left shaken after a volunteer firefighter was killed in the line of duty.

Darrell Morrison, 46, was at the scene of a crash between two semis on Highway 4 on Nov. 21 when he was struck by a passing semi.

READ MORE: Rosetown, Sask. firefighter struck by semi on Highway 4 dies

Morrison was rushed to hospital in Rosetown where he died from his injuries.

His daughter, Cheyanne – who is also a volunteer firefighter, penned an emotional Facebook post, saying she “lost not only my dad, but my number one fan.”

READ MORE: Daughter of Rosetown firefighter writes heartbreaking post about father’s death

Over 300 firefighters paid tribute to Morrison at his funeral.

 

6. New Saskatchewan political leaders

The Saskatchewan legislature is back in session with new Premier Scott Moe (left) and Opposition Leader Ryan Meili (right).

File Photo / Global News

Both of Saskatchewan’s main political parties chose new leaders in 2018.

The Saskatchewan Party had to decide on a replacement for outgoing premier Brad Wall, who announced in August 2017 he was retiring from politics.

Party members chose Scott Moe over four other contenders to take over the reins of the party – and become the 15th premier of the province.

READ MORE: Scott Moe new Saskatchewan Party leader, premier-designate

Third time was the charm for Ryan Meili as he was elected leader of the Saskatchewan NDP.

Meili, a doctor from Saskatoon, previously lost leadership races to Dwain Lingenfelter in 2009 and Cam Broten in 2013. Lingenfelter and Broten resigned after losing to Wall in provincial elections.

READ MORE: Ryan Meili wins Saskatchewan NDP leadership vote

 

5. Carbon tax battle

(From left to right) Saskatchewan’s Environment Minister Dustin Duncan, Premier Scott Moe and Attorney General Don Morgan announce the provinces legal challenge of a federal carbon tax.

David Baxter/Global News

One promise Scott Moe made during his leadership campaign was to fight the federal Liberal’s carbon tax – a promise he kept.

Moe has called the carbon tax, which comes into effect in 2019, a “vote-buying scheme,” and has launched a court challenge on whether the federal government’s plan to impose it on the province is constitutional.

READ MORE: Saskatchewan files constitutional reference case over carbon tax

Saskatchewan said its climate change plan will reduce emissions without a carbon tax being imposed.

The province has been joined by Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunswick in its fight against the carbon tax, while the British Columbia government supporting the federal government’s carbon pricing in the court case..

A number of groups, both for and against the tax, have been granted intervenor status by the court.

READ MORE: UCP, Suzuki Foundation granted intervenor status in Saskatchewan carbon tax challenge

The case will be heard by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal in February 2019.

 

4. Pay-as-you-throw garbage tossed

People in Saskatoon react to a new garbage user fee set to be implemented in 2020. Some say it’s a good compromise while others think the model stinks.

File / Global News

Saskatoon had a new waste utility – and then it didn’t.

The pay-as-you-throw waste utility, where homeowners would be charged with how much trash they throw out and not through property taxes, was another hot topic at city council.

READ MORE: Saskatoon city council throws out pay-as-you-throw garbage utility

After a contentious debate, city counsellors narrowly passed the motion by a 6-5 margin. Days later, however, Coun. Darren Hill had second thoughts and asked to have his yes vote changed, causing the motion to fail.

The city says it’s back to the drawing board for waste management and to come up with a new solution in order to extend the life of the current landfill.

READ MORE: Research says Saskatoon’s garbage utility fees a ‘step in the right direction’

 

3. Cannabis legalization and shortages

Cierra Sieben-Chuback stocks shelves at her store, Living Skies Cannabis in Saskatoon.

Devin Sauer/Global News

Thousands of customers paid a visit to legal pot stores in Saskatchewan on Oct. 17, the day recreational cannabis became legal in Canada.

It did not go off without a hitch. Only six stores opened in the province that day – none which were in Saskatoon or Regina, however some stores have since opened in those cities.

READ MORE: Sask. cannabis buyers go to smaller areas without Saskatoon, Regina stores

Stores that did open on Oct. 17 faced supply shortages from licenced producers.

In the lead-up to legalization day, Saskatoon changed zoning bylaws to restrict where stores could be located, approved a $20,000 cannabis business license fee, and set the boundaries on where pot could be smoked.

READ MORE: What you need to know about cannabis in Saskatchewan

 

2. Gerald Stanley second-degree murder trial

Gerald Stanley enters the Court of Queen’s Bench for the fifth day of his trial in Battleford, Sask., Feb. 5, 2018.Saskatchewan rancher Gerald Stanley was found not guilty in February of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Colten Boushie.

Stanley was charged after Boushie was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2016 on Stanley’s farm west of Saskatoon.

READ MORE: Gerald Stanley found not guilty of murder of Colten Boushie

A jury acquitted him of the charge on Feb. 9 after a nine-day trial.

Boushie’s family was outraged over the decision, and rallies were help across the country denouncing the verdict.

READ MORE: ‘Justice for Colten’ rally draws hundreds in Saskatoon

The federal government said the country must and can to better and changes were announced to the way juries are selected.

A camp was formed on the grounds of the Saskatchewan legislature shortly after Stanley was acquitted.

It was taken down by Regina police on June 15, only for it to be back up a few days later, sparking a legal battle.

A judge ordered the protesters to immediately leave the park on Sept. 7, the 192nd day of the camp.

 

1. Humboldt Broncos bus crash

All 29 people who were on the Humboldt Broncos bus when it crashed near Tisdale, Sask. on April 6, 2018.

Credit: TSN

The evening of April 6 started with news of a crash in eastern Saskatchewan involving a passenger bus and a semi.

It was learned it involved the Humboldt Broncos, who were on the way to Nipawin for a SJHL playoff game.

The magnitude of the crash became known the next morning when RCMP said 14 people had been killed and 15 injured in the crash – two who later died from their injuries.

READ MORE: ‘Heartbroken and completely devastated’: 15 dead in Humboldt Broncos bus crash

People across the province, country, and around the world paid tribute to the team by leaving hockey sticks on their front porches to remember and send thoughts to the Broncos.

A GoFundMe page was set up, raising $15.2 million – a record for a Canadian campaign. Payments to the survivors and families of the victims was recently approved by a Saskatchewan court.

FULL COVERAGE: Humboldt Broncos bus crash

Thousands of people, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, attended a vigil on April 8 at Elgar Petersen Arena – and millions more around the world watched.

READ MORE: ‘This is the valley of darkness’: Humboldt Broncos chaplain

A makeshift memorial was set up at the crash site, and a committee will be discussing a permanent memorial.

The team vowed to be back on the ice for the 2018-19 SJHL season, and lost 2-1 to the Nipawin Hawks on Sept. 12 in an emotional season opener.

The story of the Humboldt Broncos, those killed in the crash, and the ongoing recovery of the survivors, continues to resonate with people, and will continue to do so for years to come.

The driver of the semi, Jaskirat Sidhu, was charged with 16 counts of dangerous driving causing death and 13 counts of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. The case is still before the court.

READ MORE: Semi driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash granted adjournment to new year

With files from David Baxter, Meaghan Craig, Katie Dangerfield, Ryan Kessler, Rebekah Lesko, Thomas Piller and Jessica Vomiero.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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