Kelli Paddon, signing her name on screen in centre, is sworn in as the Chilliwack-Kent MLA by Premier John Horgan on Nov. 24, 2020. (Screenshot)

Kelli Paddon, signing her name on screen in centre, is sworn in as the Chilliwack-Kent MLA by Premier John Horgan on Nov. 24, 2020. (Screenshot)

A year in review: The Top 10 Local Stories of 2020

This top 10 stories of the year based on web views and editorial choice

2020 has been a year like no other. From terrifying natural disasters to historic elections, there’s a lot to talk about, even before taking the pandemic into consideration.

In this end of the year edition of the Observer, we’re taking a look back at the top 10 stories of 2020. In chronological order, a number of these stories are among the most read of the year, according to data from our website.

To read the full version of each story, click the titles in bold.

Rude Awakening: 1.6-magnitude earthquake rouses residents from their sleep

Jan. 24, 2020

Agassiz and Harrison residents that felt something go bump in the night on Thursday can rest assured it wasn’t just their imagination.

Area residents on social media responded with a mix of surprise, confusion and good-natured humour when discussing the “loud thump,” as some have described it.

“So sorry; I fell out of bed,” joked one resident.

“I actually got up because i thought someone hit our house or something,” said another.

Hundreds stranded at Agassiz’s Sasquatch Mountain after heavy rain, landslide

Feb. 1, 2020

Skiers, snowboarders and employees are stranded at Sasquatch Mountain Resort in Agassiz, after a landslide closed the only road in.

All activity at the resort has ground to a halt while road crews assess the blockage.

“As much as we would like to open the mountain for the many families and individuals currently on the mountain and those wanting to come up, without access to emergency services in case of an incident, we are left with no choice but to suspend all activities on the hill until the road is back open,” a statement on the resort’s website said Saturday.

The mountain was closed late Friday afternoon due to heavy rains, wind and an extreme avalanche risk.

Fraser Valley couple wins $500K after finding scratch-and-win while moving

Feb. 25, 2020

Better late than never.

Robert Walters and Lois Gueret of Agassiz were the unassuming owners of a Celebrate 2020 Scratch and Win ticket worth $500,000 and didn’t know about it until a week later.

The couple recently downsized to a motorhome in Chilliwack and noticed the unscratched, unexpired ticket dumped from a drawer on the top of a box bound for storage.

“Robert found the unscratched ticket and handed it to me, and it easily could have ended up in storage and gone expired,” Gueret said in a statement. She was the lucky one to scratch the winning ticket. “It’s a moving day miracle that it didn’t.”

Harrison Hot Springs declares state of emergency, officially closed to visitors

March 22, 2020

Residents of Harrison Hot Springs are sending a clear but gut-wrenching message to would-be tourists during the pandemic – stay home.

Only 12 hours after the residents’ open letter went public, village officials issued the official closure notice and a declaration of a state of emergency.

Mayor Leo Facio released a statement on Sunday afternoon, declaring a state of local emergency (SOLE). This involves the closure of Esplanade Avenue, recreational facility areas and public washrooms in an effort to encourage visitors to stay away – just for now.

“During this time of unprecedented public health concerns I want to assure residents that the Village Council and staff are taking every precaution to help ‘flatten the curve’ on the spread of COVID-19,” the mayor said in Sunday’s statement. “Under the SOLE order, provisions have been put in place to restrict visitors from using or accessing public spaces within the jurisdiction of the municipality.”

‘Absolutely not okay’: B.C. woman outraged at garbage-choked Harrison campsite

Aug. 5, 2020

A B.C. woman is appalled after a visit to a litter-clogged campsite near Harrison Hot Springs.

Dee Hudson’s Facebook post expressing her disgust has gained traction. She posted three photos of a huge mess left behind along the river bank, including a full beer pong setup (table included), chip bags, beer cans, camping chairs, tarps and more. The original post on the “Four Wheel Drive Association of B.C.” Facebook page has been shared more than 2,000 times.

“Shame on you for leaving this,” Hudson wrote in an open letter. “This is absolutely not okay, if anyone can go in for the rest to help out the dumb dumbs who don’t know pack in and pack out.”

Other outdoor enthusiast were equally unimpressed.

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Aug. 6, 2020

Three men are in custody facing attempted murder charges after a stabbing Wednesday evening on a public dock in Harrison Hot Springs.

Officers arrived and located a 24-year-old male suffering stab wounds. He was transported to hospital by air ambulance where he was treated for serious, potentially life-threatening injuries.

“The dock and beach area were busy at the time of this incident,” Agassiz RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Mike Sargent said in a press release. “Agassiz RCMP Serious Crime Investigators are looking to speak with anyone who witnessed this event and are actively seeking any CCTV or cell phone video footage which may capture this crime.”

‘My Best Friend’s Bouquet’: more details released about movie filmed in Agassiz-Harrison

Sept. 6, 2020

The Hallmark Channel has released more details about their upcoming fall lineup, including a film shot in Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs.

Under the working title of “Neverbrides,” film crews worked on “My Best Friend’s Bouquet” in Harrison at Muddy Waters and around the village and in Agassiz in particular at the Fraser River Lodge.

“My Best Friend’s Bouquet” stars Chaley Rose and Nathan Witte. The Hallmark movie tells the tale of Josie Hughes, a hopeless romantic with a passion for the old-fashioned romance as seen in the golden age of Hollywood. She believes the thrown wedding bouquet always finds its way to the right person. At her friend Emma’s wedding, she ends up catching the bouquet but feels she might have wrecked her friend Athena’s chances of getting engaged.

Harrison: Group of tourists faces $400 in fines for reportedly using one parking pass for five motorcycles

Oct. 9, 2020

Creativity pays off in a lot of ways, but it may not help with parking tickets.

An angry motorist recently wrote in to The Observer after being hit with four $100 parking tickets over the peak tourism season at Harrison Hot Springs after they and their friends elected to pay for one parking pass and park five motorcycles in a single parking stall along Esplanade Avenue.

Was the motorist in the right? Not according to the current local bylaws.

Community services coordinator Rhonda Schell said the village’s pay parking program is not based on renting out stalls and that all vehicles in the pay parking zones are required to purchase a ticket. Furthermore, under Section 27.w. of the Highways and Traffic Bylaw (on page 10), it states that a motor vehicle cannot be parked “in such close proximity to another vehicle as to obstruct or unduly restrict movement of other vehicles.”

Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon celebrates a number of historic firsts ahead of caucus resuming

Nov. 25, 2020

Attending Victoria virtually, Kelli Paddon was officially sworn in as Chilliwack-Kent MLA while Premier John Horgan and Clerk of the Legislature Katy Ryan-Lloyd witnessed from the floor of Parliament in a quiet, video-heavy ceremony.

“I’m grateful and humbled to have the opportunity to represent my community in Victoria,” Paddon said in a statement. “I will be a strong voice for the region, collaborating on the shared issues of housing affordability, child care and education so everyone can get ahead. Recent months have posed severe challenges but I’m confident that our government’s strong plan is the way forward.”

B.C.’s 42nd Parliament marks a number of historic milestones, including – as Paddon highlighted in a tweet on Nov. 24 – a majority-women caucus with 29 women. Paddon said not only is this a first for B.C. but a first in Canadian history.

Quarry stopped: Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs feel relief, jubilation

Dec. 8, 2020

After a nearly three-year battle The Friends Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs can safely declare victory – the quarry has been stopped.

Just three weeks before Christmas, senior inspector of mines Jim Dunkley made a decision not to issue a Mines Act permit for the property at 3628 Hot Springs Road in Harrison Hot Springs.

“I can’t believe it,” Harold Bruins, Friends spokesperson, said. “It’s a great win for us, for sure. We’ve been fighting this for almost three years. It started at the end of March 2018 and just came out of the blue.”

Read full versions of each story online at www.agassizharrisonobserver.com.


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