Looking back at B.C.’s top 10 stories of 2022
How is a year remembered? Will 2022 be the year of crime? Or will it be remembered as the emergence from a global pandemic that saw many British Columbians band together in a time of need?
British Columbia had a number of interesting stories that captivated hundreds of thousands of readers throughout the year.
Here is a look at the top 10 B.C. stories from 2022.
COVID-19: B.C. to drop mask mandate Friday for indoor public spaces, vaccine card in April
March 9, 2022
Almost exactly two years after the provincial government put in the first round of pandemic measures and restrictions, British Columbians woke up on March 11, 2022, no longer needing to don a face mask in many public spaces.
The removal of the mask mandates was just the first step in a phased rollback of the pandemic rules.
B.C. health officials also announced the province was to remove its proof of COVID-19 vaccination requirement on April 8.
Read more: COVID-19: B.C. to drop mask mandate Friday for indoor public spaces, vaccine card in April
“Some people and some locations will continue to use masks personally or in their business, and that’s okay. We need to support that,” provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said.
Masks were no longer required on public transit, and for schools, the mask mandate was proposed to be lifted by the coming spring break for the K-to-12 system.
The removal of the mask mandate signaled a substantial shift from the government, requiring the public to obey certain rules to allow individuals to make their own decisions on masking.
—With files from Global News’ Amy Judd and Richard Zussman.
6 officers injured in shooting at Saanich, B.C. bank, 2 suspects killed
June 28, 2022
A botched armed bank robbery attempt in Saanich, B.C., led to a shootout between police and two men.
The two suspects were killed in the exchange while six officers were injured.
Three officers were from the Saanich Police Department while the other three officers were members of the Victoria Police Department. Two of the officers had to undergo surgery due to the extent of their injuries.
Saanich police confirmed that at 11 a.m. officers responded to a report of armed suspects at the Bank of Montreal in the 3600-block of Shelbourne Street in the community north of Victoria.
Multiple officers responded to the scene and encountered the armed suspects who fired at police.
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Beau Schultz, who lives nearby, said they were just getting out of the shower when they saw police officers outside their house.
“It started out very simply with just the two cops that I saw,” Schultz told Global News.
“What I saw next was two people leaving the bank and they were armed and they also, I don’t really know how to describe how they were dressed, but you could tell they were trying to conceal who they were.”
That’s when gunfire rang out, Schultz said, adding they saw one of the two people who exited the bank get shot.
“Time is honestly a blur,” Schultz said, describing smoke, seeing people getting hit and hearing dozens and dozens of gunshots.
RCMP later identified the suspects as brothers Isaac and Mathew Auchterlonie of Duncan, B.C., but have said little about them other than that they were not known to police.
Pictures and videos on a now-deleted Instagram account attributed to Isaac showed a variety of firearms, some with high-capacity magazines, as well as target practice in the forest, anti-Trudeau memes, and material denoting an interest in the Second World War.
—With files from Global BC’s Amy Judd and Simon Little.
‘Basically living at the airport’: Cancelled flights strand B.C. woman in Toronto for 5 days
July 5, 2022
A B.C. woman was trapped in Toronto for days after her flight was cancelled.
Not only was the trip emotionally and physically draining, but Kelowna’s Carla Leinweber said she also lost over $10,000 in return flights, and accommodations plus she had to cancel her vacation.
On June 14, 2022, Leinweber boarded her Air Canada flight from Kelowna to Montreal.
She was then supposed to fly to Deer Lake, N.L., but the airline recommended she go to Toronto Pearson Airport as she had a higher chance of making a connecting flight to Deer Lake.
But that flight got cancelled — not just that night, but for the following two days as well.
She and other passengers were stuck at Pearson airport while dealing with customer service.
“I was basically in a lockdown and hostage position with Air Canada. (I am) basically living at the airport,” Leinweber said.
“After the third night, one woman said, ‘maybe we need to call RCMP and say we’re stranded.’”
Read more: ‘Basically living at the airport’: Cancelled flights strand B.C. woman in Toronto for 5 days
She told Global News she spent the days searching for her luggage and trying to book her next flight. She spent two nights in a hotel and the rest sleeping on the airport floor.
She then decided to book a flight home through WestJet instead of waiting for a flight to finally take her to Newfoundland.
But then the long, frustrating days took a toll on her.
“As I’m waiting in check-in at the WestJet counter in Toronto airport, I actually collapsed. I had my cart and my luggage, backpack, cane and purse go flying,” she said.
She said other passengers and WestJet staff helped picked her up and put her into a wheelchair. Her leg would later be covered in bruises.
To curb the number of delayed and cancelled flights, Air Canada adjusted its schedule.
It had got down to an average of 154 flights per day in July and August, mostly cutting flights to and from Toronto and Montreal.
“The operating environment globally has changed from prior to the pandemic, notably the well-documented issues such as security and customs lines, aircraft being held at gates unable to unload passengers at airports, airport baggage systems issues and limitations on the number of flights imposed by air traffic control in both Canada and the U.S. that force airlines to make last-minute cancellations,” the airline said in a statement to Global News.
Customers are notified automatically if their flight gets cancelled, the statement said, and staff will either rebook them right away if possible or continue to search for other flights.
“Customers can also request a refund to the original form of payment at any time and where compensation is due Air Canada will abide by its (Air Passenger Protection Regulations) obligations.”
—with files from Jasmine King.
3 dead including suspect in string of shootings in Langley, B.C.: Shooter’s identity released
July 25, 2022
Two people were killed and two others wounded in multiple shootings in Langley, B.C., on July 25, while the man believed to be responsible was also killed, according to police.
RCMP responded to shots fired at several locations throughout the City of Langley and one scene in the Township of Langley that involved “transient” victims, according to an emergency alert sent to people’s cellphones around 6:20 a.m. on July 25.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team later identified the shooter as Jordan Daniel Goggin.
Officials said he was known to police for “non-criminal contacts.”
Read more: 3 dead including suspect in string of shootings in Langley, B.C.: Shooter’s identity released
In an update later in the morning, police confirmed Goggin was dead and that four others had been shot.
A woman near 203A St and Fraser Highway was taken to hospital in critical condition while one man’s body was found at Creek Stone Place on 201 Street and another at the Langley City bus loop near Glover Road and Logan.
A fourth victim was found near the Langley Bypass with a gunshot wound to the leg.
At a news conference on July 25, Sgt. David Lee with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said the gunfire had started around midnight at the Cascade Casino, with the second at 3 a.m. at Creek Stone Place, the third at 5 a.m. at the bus loop, and a fourth at 5:45 a.m. at the Langley Bypass.
Police later identified the two victims as Paul David Wynn, 60, who died outside Creek Stone Place and Steven Furness, 43, who died at the Langley bus loop.
The motive for the shootings remains unknown.
—With files from Global News’ Amy Judd and Simon Little.
B.C. reports 16 suspected heat-related deaths from July 26 to Aug. 3
August 9, 2022
A series of heat events in the summer led to the deaths of a number of British Columbians.
The B.C. Coroners Service reported 16 suspected heat-related deaths occurred across the province between July 26 and Aug. 3.
In a report released Aug. 6, the service revealed the greatest number of deaths — five — occurred on July 29, followed by July 30, with a total of three.
The greatest number of deaths — six — were in the 70-to-78 age range, followed by the 60-to-69 age range at three.
Eight of the deaths were in the Fraser Health Authority region and six were in the Interior Health region.
On July 25, Environment Canada warned that temperatures could reach between 35 C and 40 C between July 27 and 29 in the Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon, Shuswap, Boundary, Kootenay and Thompson areas.
In Greater Victoria, Howe Sound, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, temperatures were forecast to reach between 31 C and 35 C.
In 2021, 619 deaths in B.C. between June 25 and July 1 were heat-related, as the province experienced a record-breaking heat dome.
A review of that tragedy made 14 recommendations for preventing similar deaths, including a clearer and more coordinated action plan in the event of another extreme heat event.
The report by the BC Coroners Service also recommended authorities review whether to issue cooling devices such as air conditioners and fans to people most at risk of dying during a heat emergency.
—With files from Global News’ Elizabeth McSheffery, Richard Zussman and the Canadian Press.
Parts of B.C. upgraded to Drought Level 5, meaning conditions are ‘exceptionally dry’
Oct. 6, 2022
An extended summer and extreme lack of precipitation left much of B.C. in extreme drought conditions in early October.
A severe lack of rain had the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast and west Vancouver Island in Drought Level 5, meaning adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values were almost certain.
At level 5, conditions are exceptionally dry, according to the provincial drought scale, and all efforts should be made to conserve water and protect critical environmental flows.
Parts of the Sunshine Coast Regional District were already been under Stage 3 and 4 water regulations since the end of August.
That included a ban on all outdoor use of drinking water, meaning no lawn watering, no sprinklers, no boat or car washing, and no filling of pools or fountains.
“The situation at the moment is pretty dire,” Remko Rosenboom, SCRD director of emergency operations, said at the time.
“Assuming we don’t have rain … we have enough water until early November.”
—With files from Global News’ Amy Judd
Judge sentences B.C. teen Amanda Todd’s online tormentor to 13 years in prison
Oct. 14, 2022
In October, a B.C. judge sentenced Dutch man Aydin Coban to 13 years in prison for the harassment and extortion of B.C. teenager Amanda Todd.
It was a sentence longer than what prosecutors were asking for.
Justice Martha Devlin took the unusual step of handing down a longer sentence than what Crown counsel had argued for in the case of Coban, who was already serving a nearly 11-year term in the Netherlands for similar crimes.
“Ruining Amanda’s life was Mr. Coban’s expressly stated goal and was sadly one that he achieved,” Devlin said in delivering her reasons from her New Westminster courtroom.
“Mr. Coban engaged in a prolonged pattern of sextortion targeting Amanda Todd, a child in her early to mid-teens,” she added.
“Mr. Coban, relying on a high level of technological sophistication, obfuscated his identity, location and activities, gained information about Amanda valuable to his criminal scheme, and emotionally manipulated Amanda with both friendly inducements and distressing threats.
“On several occasions, Mr. Coban made good on these threats.”
The sentencing hearing began almost exactly 10 years after Todd took her own life in 2012.
The B.C. judge laid out a series of aggravating factors in the case, including the abuse’s contribution to Amanda’s suicide, her young age, the sophistication and premeditation of Coban’s sexual blackmail scheme and how widely he distributed pornographic images and videos of the teen.
Justice Devlin quoted extensively from the viral YouTube video which brought international attention to the case, along with victim impact statements given by her family, which included her mother, father and brother.
Just weeks before her death, Amanda created a YouTube video where she silently held up cue cards documenting the torment she suffered and its effect on her life. The video went viral and became a symbol in the fight against online harassment.
Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term, arguing Coban remained “unrepentant” and a high risk to children.
The 44-year-old’s lawyers, meanwhile, argued his crimes were worth a six-year sentence, which should be further reduced to two years to take into account the 11 years he’s already serving overseas.
Outside the courthouse, holding a photo of her daughter, Carol Todd hailed the stiff sentence.
“That was amazing. That was amazing because it was justice for Amanda and justice for all,” she said.
“This will make a difference in the world for the kids, and I have to hope Amanda is watching from somewhere to see what her voice did for everyone.”
Carol also called for police to take online harassment more seriously, and said the federal government needs to review and consider expanding legislation against cyberbullying passed nearly a decade ago.
Amanda’s father Norm Todd, said he was pleased with how much weight the judge had given the family’s victim impact statements.
“I was really excited. I was hoping and praying we got a high sentence, and we did — but our expectations were lower. Everybody pulled together and we got through to the judge. We set a really high precedent, which is really nice, I am really happy about that,” he said.
Coban was arrested at a bungalow in the Netherlands in January 2014, where police seized a variety of computer equipment including hard drives with Amanda’s name and fragments of chat logs with her.
Coban was sent back to the Netherlands in late November, where he will continue to serve his nearly 11-year sentence imposed by a Dutch court in 2017.
Now that he is back in his home country, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service said a conversion hearing will take place to determine how much of Coban’s Canadian sentence could be served at home.
—With files from Global News’ Amy Judd, Simon Little and Rumina Daya
Burnaby, B.C. RCMP officer killed on duty was on mental health and homeless outreach team
Oct. 18, 2022
A Burnaby RCMP officer was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 18, 2022, while attending a homeless campsite with park workers.
Const. Shaelyn Yang was fatally stabbed at Broadview Park just before 11 a.m.
“She was a loving wife, a sister, and a daughter. Those she worked with before joining the RCMP and her police colleagues described Const. Yang as a kind and compassionate person, which makes her death even more difficult to accept,” Dept. Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, commanding officer of the BC RCMP, said.
McDonald said Yang was stabbed following an “altercation” during the call, and that despite the efforts of first responders she died in hospital.
The suspect was shot in the altercation, and was sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries, he added.
Yang, a Richmond resident, completed her RCMP training in December 2019, before being deployed to the Burnaby detachment, police said.
Chief Supt. Graham de la Gorgendiere, officer in charge of the Burnaby RCMP, described Yang’s death as “both senseless and tragic,” and said it left the detachment reeling.
“Speaking about the impact in the line of duty death of one of our members is probably the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in my career,” Graham told reporters.
“She was compassionate and caring, and she brought those skills every day to her job, working with our community’s most vulnerable, including those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.
Yang’s death is being investigated as a homicide by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter to say he was “incredibly saddened” by the death.
“My thoughts are with the family, friends, and colleagues of the fallen officer – I am keeping you in my thoughts during this terrible time,” he wrote.
Jagmeet Singh, leader of the federal NDP and MP for Burnaby South also took to Twitter to express his shock.
“Heart-wrenching news today of the killing of an RCMP officer in Burnaby,” he wrote.
“My condolences to their fellow officers, family, and loved ones. This is an unimaginable loss in the line of duty.”
Jongwon Ham has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to Yang’s death. Ham received his charge on Oct. 19, 2022, the day after the incident.
—With files from Global BC’s Simon Little and Amy Judd.
David Eby sworn in as British Columbia’s 37th premier
Nov. 17, 2022
David Eby officially became premier of British Columbia in a ceremony at the Musqueam Community Centre on Nov. 18.
Eby was sworn in as the 37th B.C. premier replacing John Horgan. Horgan served as the premier since July 2017.
The new premier took over during a time when the province faced hurdles on many fronts including the health-care system, the global economy, and managing public safety.
In his first 100 days as premier, Eby promised to expand available and affordable housing, create safer communities, redirect fossil fuel subsidies to clean energy, and improve access to health care.
One of the other commitments has been for the province to take over coordinating resources in the Downtown Eastside.
This will include working towards getting rid of current tent encampments.
Eby also promised to continue to foster important relationships with Indigenous partners and all levels of government.
Eby’s new cabinet was later sworn in on Dec. 7.
—with files from Global News’ Richard Zussman
Court rules former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum not guilty of public mischief
Nov. 21, 2022
A B.C. Provincial Court judge found former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum not guilty of public mischief in late November.
The public mischief charge stemmed from allegations made by the former mayor that Debi Johnstone, a member of the group Keep the RCMP in Surrey, had run over his foot outside of a Save-On-Foods on Sept. 4, 2021.
In an interview with Global News two days after the incident, McCallum alleged the driver, “clipped my knee and my bottom leg and ran over my foot at the same time and then took off.”
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, public mischief includes “making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence.”
McCallum was visibly emotional as Judge Reginald Harris delivered his verdict in the case, which hinged on whether the former mayor had intentionally misled police to trigger an investigation of a political opponent.
“I am pleased with the decision. And I want to thank my lawyers for their tremendous efforts in this case,” McCallum said outside the courthouse following the decision.
The BC Prosecution Service said a special prosecutor, assigned to the file, will not appeal the case.
In his reasons for judgement, Judge Harris concluded “beyond a reasonable doubt” that McCallum’s foot had, in fact, been run over by Johnstone following a heated verbal exchange.
Inconsistencies in McCallum’s later report to police, including the speed of Johnstone’s vehicle and that he had been “pinned” by her car, were reasonable given the ex-mayor’s emotional state at the time.
“After considering all the evidence, I am satisfied Mr. McCallum found the entire event shocking significantly threatening and likely upsetting,” Harris found.
“In this regard, Ms. Johnstone’s approach was sudden, unexpected and from behind. During the interaction, her language and tone were aggressive and hostile. Throughout, she subjected Mr. McCallum to an onslaught of vile and abusive language. Then, and likely adding to Mr. McCallum’s stress, she suddenly drove off over his foot.”
—With files from Global BC’s Simon Little