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Top stories of 2012

Protesters confront city engineer Amer Afridi at a busy Cloverdale intersection in June. - File
Protesters confront city engineer Amer Afridi at a busy Cloverdale intersection in June.
— image credit: File

JANUARY

Strange lights

A UFO expert says Surreyites saw something unexplained in the skies over Cloverdale after a spate of reports flood in over the holidays.

Brian Vike says as many as nine different eyewitnesses reported seeing strange lights in the night sky.

Normally, most sightings can be explained as stars, planets, aircraft, satellites – and meteors, which he suspects is the culprit in this case.

A few of the local reports, however, involve seeing round orange lights in formation, and Vike figures those sound like floating paper lanterns.

Vike’s theory is later strengthened by additional eyewitness reports from Cloverdale residents, including one who followed a 'UFO' to where it crashed, and found a crumpled paper lantern.

A turning point

Exotic dancers put in their final performance at Cloverdale’s Legacy Showroom.

The strip club at the Clover Inn is shut down, signaling the end of an era when it comes to adult entertainment – and presenting a turning point for the historic town centre. Critics regarded the club as a “cancer” hindering revitalization efforts.

In closing it down, hotel co-owner Andrew Knott said he was responding to pressure from civic and business leaders, along with Surrey’s law enforcement officials.

He said the decision was an act of good faith to the establishment’s neighbours, who had lobbied to shut the club down as a condition of sale for the motel, as well as relocating the liquor store license.

 

FEBRUARY

New Legion shelved

The plan to build a new home for the Cloverdale Legion as part of the redevelopment plan for the former Cloverdale Mall is put on hold.

Proponents TL Housing Solutions/Townline Homes Inc. and the Surrey City Development Corp. will focus instead on a different phase of the project, citing rising project costs and current market conditions.

“We’re going to start a different phase and put services in and get the overall project going,” SCDC CEO Jim Cox said. “We hope that by under taking some activity there, that the world’s going to see that it’s a developing place and more than an empty parking lot.”

Running late

A society of heritage rail enthusiasts won’t be moving to a new home in Cloverdale until the summer, later than originally planned.

Construction on the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society’s new operations was supposed to begin months ago, but the project is six months behind schedule. The project hit a snag when contaminated soil was discovered on the property at 5554 176 Street, site of a future car barn.

 

Welfare's challenging

Twenty-six pounds lighter and minus the backpack he sells to pay for a SkyTrain ticket, Fleetwood-Surrey MLA Jagrup Brar arrived back home after spending a month on the welfare challenge.

The experience of living on $610 – the amount of assistance for single, employable people – left him wiser about the plight of those living on social assistance who are supposed to be looking for work.

Instead of finding a job, Brar said he wasted hours lining up for free meals or showers. He also discovered affordable housing is the number one issue for people living in poverty.

 

Population boom

Surrey added more new residents than any other city in Metro Vancouver, according to the 2011 Census results. And while Cloverdale grew modestly over the past five years, East Clayton to the northeast boomed. Stats Canada figures show the area is home to 14,034 people. That’s more than three times the 2006 count of 4,132, making it the fastest-growing census tract in Metro Vancouver.

Surrey’s population grew to 468,251.

http://raven.b-it.ca/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/GeorgeGreenawaypicket-ES.jpg

[Teachers protest outside George Greenaway Elementary in March. FILE PHOTO]

MARCH

It’s war

The Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and BIA declare war on graffiti makers in Clayton, where taggers and vandals are keeping a zero-tolerance removal crew hopping.

The chamber is offering a $1,000-reward to anyone who catches someone in the act.

“It creates a feeling that the community doesn’t care,” contributing to an atmosphere of neglect and acting as a breeding ground for property crime, Chamber executive director Bill Reid said.

Jen Temple, Hillcrest Mall manager, applauds the initiative, citing a growing problem with graffiti at the mall. Zero tolerance sends out a clear message and frustrates the culprits, she says.

 

Pony up

Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino opens a well-appointed new poker room, joining other casinos in the Lower Mainland and neighbouring Washington state with this added amenity.

Some 70 new employees are hired to staff the new facility, Fraser Downs officials say.

 

Cherry trees come down

Residents are outraged at the loss of Clayton Park’s crowning glory: a dozen mature cherry trees chopped down by city chainsaws just weeks before their spectacular annual show of pink spring blooms.

The City of Surrey removed the trees because they surrounded the park’s lawn bowling green, resulting in costly maintenance bills and as posing a hazard to players negotiating walkways and greens corrupted by twisting roots.

The decision was reached in partnership with the Surrey Lawn Bowling Club, but neighbours like Ina Vandeburgt are disappointed by the loss – and are angry they weren’t consulted or warned.

 

Hold the cup

A successful barista training program based in Cloverdale for at-risk youth gets the axe.

Pacific Community Resources Society is at a loss to explain why the federal government has decided it will no longer support the program, which was a unique partnership between the society, Starbuck’s Canada, the Surrey School District and the federal government.

 

APRIL

Curling Club goes postal

The Cloverdale Curling Club hosts the 46th annual Canadian Postal Employees Curling Classic, an event drawing mixed teams from across the country. Tournament founder Barry Swanton of Cloverdale throws the first rock at the opening ceremonies.

 

Temporary truck home

Proponents of a heritage transportation centre have found a temporary home in Cloverdale for a collection of vintage vehicles from the Teamsters Freight Transportation Museum and Archives.

The City of Surrey agrees to lend the Surrey Heritage Society a building on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds to house the new BC Heritage Transportation Centre.

 

MAY

The Cloverdale Community Association launches a renewal drive in hopes of providing a stronger voice for residents.

Member Ken Krasnikoff says there’s never been a better time for Cloverdale residents to have their concerns heard, considering the rapid residential growth taking place in Surrey, particularly in Clayton, meaning Cloverdale risks falling off the city's radar and potentially losing out when it comes to new facilities and services to neighbourhoods that lobby more effectively.

 

New garden digs in

Volunteers pitch in to build a community garden on the lawn at Cloverdale United Church. The new garden features 15 raised beds that are already spoken for – a new crop of gardeners signed up, and there’s a growing waiting list. The garden is an outreach program of the church, which supplied the land and water and is organized in partnership with non-profit organizations: Can You Dig it, Pos-Abilities, Living Soil B.C. and Don’t Sweat It.

 

Global battle

Top competitors descend on Cloverdale for the World Round-Up Freestyle Skateboard Competition, coinciding with the 2012 Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair, dazzling spectators with their amazing moves at the Bed Races, Chili Cook Off and at the fair. Organizer Monty Little lives in Cloverdale, where he’s a tireless ambassador for the high-discipline sector of Freestyle.

 

Cloverdale classic

Among the last single-screens in the Lower Mainland, the Clova Cinema quietly celebrates its 65th birthday. It was a grander occasion on May 26, 1947, when the Clova showed its first movie. Patrons paid $1 each for their seats, with the money going to Surrey Memorial Hospital Society.

 

Sad anniversary

The daughter of a man killed in Cloverdale three years ago makes an emotional plea to the public to help solve the murder of Christopher Whitmee. Lexus Whitmee speaks at a Surrey RCMP press conference held on the anniversary of the night her dad was shot in the restroom at the Legacy Show Lounge. Police said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time on May 16, 2009. At year’s end, the case was still unsolved. IHIT Tipline by calling 1-877-551-IHIT or by email to: ihittipline@rcmip-grc.gc.ca.

 

JUNE

Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary celebrates its 100th anniversary with a reunion celebration June 2. Deborah Buchan, Lady Stewartby, is among the dignitaries joining alumni, former staff and students at Surrey's oldest high school. She's the granddaughter of John Buchan, the Lord Tweedsmuir for whom the school was renamed in 1946.

 

Cross about the walk

Residents of West Cloverdale demand a safer crossing at 168 Street and 57A Avenue, picketing at the busy intersection to highlight their concerns.

"We need something for parents and kids to cross safely here," said 14-year-resident Chrissy Burbank. Protest organize Trudy Hemrick says she's grown frustrated by the city's refusal to install a crosswalk – traffic counts are insufficient, she's been told. But ICBC records show there've been 17 crashes in five years.

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