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Victoria News 2022: The top-five stories of the year

As we say hello to the new year, Victoria News looks back on the stories that resonated the most
Joan Alston-Stewart wanted the land in Blenkinsop Valley to be protected to preserve the biodiversity in the area. (Courtesy of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia)

As 2023 peaks around the corner, the stories from a year defined by rebuilding and renewal linger to remind everyone what 2022 was about.

From robberies to recognition, Victoria News has seen it all. Here are the top five stories from 2022.

A bank robbery leaves six officers wounded

A robbery at the Bank of Montreal left six officers injured and saw the death of two suspects on June 28.

Residents in the area reported hearing a slew of gunshots, so many that they could be mistaken for fireworks, with many shuttering their windows and locking their doors.

“I realized that it was definitely gunshots and assumed that if something was happening that it could be people with guns running,” said Lily Hayward. “It was a bit unsettling.”

Police arrived quickly, issuing a shelter-in-place order and later evacuating homes and businesses due to an explosive device.

The Land Conservancy gets biggest donation in history

Joan Alston-Stewart left eight acres in the Blenkinsop Valley to the Land Conservancy in her will, making it the largest donation the organization has ever received. The donation, which was comprised of three properties, included funding to maintain it, as well as a $40,000 donation to Abkahzi Garden.

The portion of the estate that was donated was valued at $3.5 million and includes wetland, Garry Oak and Douglas Fir habitats.

“It was an honour to meet with Joan and discuss her history with the Blenkinsop Valley, as well as her vision for the future,” said Cathy Armstrong, TLC executive director. “She was an astute investor who did her homework to ensure our organization was the right steward for her legacy. We are incredibly grateful for her generous donation and look forward to safeguarding the three properties she left in our care.”

Sea pig sighting

Ocean Networks Canada captured a video of a sea pig swimming in the Cascadia Basin last year, a rare sight for researchers.

The sea creatures, also know as a Sea Cucumber, typically walk to get around and are usually seen scavenging on the ocean floor, but this little piggy was going for a swim at 2,584 metres below the surface.

The great Canadian migration

Victoria remained high on the list for new residents, gaining almost 3,481 people from Vancouver in just a year. Calgary sent over 1,185 people and 941 people moved to Victoria from Edmonton.

Even while other cities saw an exodus during the pandemic, Victoria continued to gain transplants, gaining nearly 6,899 people from late 2020 to early 2021.

International migration, however, hit a low because of pandemic restrictions.

Statistics Canada reported that British Columbia, along with other Atlantic provinces saw an increase in inter-provincial migration, while Ontario and Alberta saw an increase in people leaving.

Overall, the study showed the amount of people packing their bags and coming to Victoria has stayed consistent over the past four years, pandemic and all.

Mandate madness

Hundreds gathered at the B.C. legislature to protest government pandemic mandates, Jan. 22, holding posters that read “freedom not fear’ and “my body - my choice”.

“I know I speak on behalf of the construction industry and trades workers, and I don’t know a single one who is behind these mandates,” said organizer Mike Slemko. “Construction workers are behind the truckers – we are going to stop this country until it is ours again and we are all free.”

The protest was organized by B.C. Businesses Against Health Pass, but was a part of a larger movement World Wide Rally for Freedom.

The day before this rally, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced B.C. would be shifting the pandemic response to risk management such as increasing vaccines, following public health guidance and using vaccine cards.

Honourable mention goes to… Mystic Beach makes top 50 best beaches in the world

Locals know how beautiful Vancouver Island beaches are, but it is nice to be recognized for our pristine shores internationally.

The travel website Big Seven Travel included Mystic Beach on a list of 50 best beaches in the world, ranking it among beaches in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

“Mystic Beach, located on the southern coast of Vancouver Island, is one of (Canada’s) most enchanting,” the article said. “Set along the Juan de Fuca Trail, the white sandy beach is set against lush forest, with a picturesque waterfall cascading right into the brilliant blue sea.”

Mystic Beach was ranked between Eagle Beach in Aruba and Diani Beach in Kenya, sitting at number 42.


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Residents from across Canada are leaving other major cities to move to Greater Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the B.C. legislature to protest government mandates introduced during the pandemic. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)

Hollie Ferguson

About the Author: Hollie Ferguson

Hollie moved to Victoria from Virginia in September 2022 with her partner Zachary and their two pups, Theodore and Bibi.
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