Top three local news stories of 2016
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
DSU Representative Committee Election
One of the most notable stories at Douglas this year was the Douglas Students’ Union Representative Election this past March.
The 2016 DSU election marked a time of renewal for the DSU. The election was plagued with scandal, as questionable actions from the outgoing representative committee began to leak to the college. These scandals included misuse of student money, from the CFS Ottawa conference through to buying out a member of the DSU for $160,300, allegations of internal threats and sexual harassment, stalemates and the deliberate breaking of quorum, and a divided committee.
The election yielded some relieving results. For one, there was a record turnout of voters in the student election, as 19.5 per cent of Douglas students voted (a massive increase from the 4 per cent in 2015). The votes also heavily leaned in favour of the Action slate, as they won over their opponents in the NexGen slate by a two-to-one ratio.
Although several members from the 2015–16 committee ran for re-election, only Jerzy Mazurek—then Disabled Students Representative, now Internal Relations Coordinator—was re-elected to the committee, as the other returning candidates were involved in the DSU scandals.
Since taking over the committee in May, the present committee has kept true to their promises of providing a wide array of events for students, and seem to be working well with the student body and amongst themselves.
Front Street Closure
New Westminster businesses experienced large scale interruptions this year with the construction around Front Street.
The city’s decisions to demolish the parkade between February and July was a controversial one. While many were excited to see the parkade go, others would miss it.
The demolition of the parkade was particularly worrisome to the businesses situated on Front Street. The work being done in the area severely decreased foot traffic in the area, and driving in the area proved to be troublesome. Some businesses lost profit, despite efforts made by the city to promote the affected businesses.
Pickton still affecting community
Over a decade after Robert Pickton’s horrific crimes, the Port-Coquitlam killer made ripples in the local news during 2016.
Pickton caught media attention in February when he managed to publish a memoir, Pickton: In His Own Words, from prison. The book sold on Amazon for less than a week before it was pulled.
The book—littered with claims of innocence and biblical allegories—was met with outrage from the public and the families of his victims. They were confused on how Pickton was able to get the memoir published at all, which turned out that it was via another prisoner who had outside connections. Moreso, there was a demand for any profits procured by the memoir to be forwarded to the victims’ families and the community.
Meanwhile, a local Port-Coquitlam woman, Jami Roberts, sought to create a standing memorial for Pickton’s victims by creating a healing garden on the site of Pickton’s farm, where his victims lost their lives.
While the idea of the garden was met positively, the actual planning and construction was met with mixed reviews around the community. Many said that placing a memorial so close to an elementary school may be upsetting, while others said that the families of the victims should be more involved—despite indicators that the families only approved the idea, but did not want to be involved in the planning.
For now, the idea will remain as just that.