Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 - The fire and the poet
Wednesday, September 27, 2023 | Today: 🌦 High 17C
Last week, just days after I wrote about how I had seen many bears this year, I spoke to a central Abbotsford resident who had seen a local bear near his home for the first time in many, many years. So, it seems, have many of you.
We posted a poll last week asking readers if they had seen a bear this year. I just looked at the results (sorry, I’ve been busy) and the results are incredible. Of 379 respondents, 234 of you reported spotting a bear. That’s a huge number, even discounting the fact that bear-spotters are probably more likely to respond than non-bear-spotters. You guys saw bears at Baker Trail Village in Chilliwack, near Chilliwack Lake Road, in Port Coquitlam, along the Vedder River in Chilliwack, on a trail in Mission, in the Hatzic Valley, north of Clayburn Village Park in Abbotsford, and in a townhouse complex in Abbotsford.
On the plus side, at least we’re not in Quesnel, where a grizzly bear was spotted roaming the town last week.
We’ve got another book-based story in today’s newsletter. This is something of an ongoing story theme and, hopefully, one of those things that makes The Current unique. If you own a business and want to sponsor our books-related coverage, please get in touch. We’re still trying to make the money-side of our business work and your support will really help—and it helps justify spending our time on coverage like this.
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The fire and the poet
📷 Shelanne Justice Photography
Meghan Fandrich is sitting at a coffee shop, talking about how she’s not a poet.
In front of her sits a book of poems, with her name on the cover and praise from one of the country’s most decorated poets on the back. Fandrich is a poet. But her reluctance to proclaim herself one is understandable, given how it all came about.
Fandrich’s poems were all written in the span of just a few intense months late last year as she discovered how writing could help her recover from the grief that followed the destruction of her village in the 2021 wildfires. Fandrich found that mining her emotions, dumping them onto a blank page, and sharing that work could help her cope with the trauma left by the flames that consumed the Village of Lytton and the beloved café she had built from the ground up.
Fandrich will be hosting a reading and book signing Oct. 16 from 3 to 4pm at Oldhand Coffee in Abbotsford.
Need to know
🐝 How an Abbotsford man became a beekeeper (and convinced his wife that bees aren’t scary) [Bigger Than Me/YouTube]
🐘 A supercontinent near the equator will form and doom most mammals; luckily, it will take a couple hundred million years to happen [New Scientist]
👉 A developer wants to build a 47-unit RV campground north of Hope [Fraser Valley Today]
🛶 A canoe bearing art created by students was installed at a Hope elementary school Monday [Hope Standard]
🚔 A cashier at a Langley Superstore was briefly assaulted over the weekend [Langley Advance Times]
🐻 A bear caught Sunday in Langley was euthanized [Langley Advance Times]
🗳 A new five-storey apartment building in Chilliwack was the subject of a public hearing yesterday [Chilliwack Progress]
🚔 A procession for a slain Mountie drove through Abbotsford on Highway 1 yesterday [Vancouver Is Awesome]
💰 Langley plans to spend around $150 million to add three rinks and two dry arenas to the Langley Events Centre [Langley Advance Times]
🍷 Sip, sample, and shop at "A Taste of the Valley". October 21st and 22nd at Chilliwack Heritage Park. $5 cash admission.*
More than 60 people have perished from toxic drugs in Abbotsford through the first eight months of 2023. | 📊 Grace Giesbrecht
BC on track for record overdose deaths
Fraser Valley communities experienced 142 overdose deaths through the first eight months of 2023.
As of the end of August, 61 people had died from toxic drugs in Abbotsford, 44 died in Chilliwack, 31 perished in Langley, and six died in Hope.
August deaths were eight per cent lower than those recorded last year. But 2023 is still on track to becoming the deadliest year for fatal overdoses since a public health emergency was declared in 2016, according to new figures released this week. The province is on pace for more than 2,400 deaths this year, exceeding the 2,383 recorded last year. Overdoses accounted for more than five deaths per day across the province last month.
Over the course of 2023, the Fraser Health Authority had the second-highest number of toxic drug deaths, second only to Vancouver Coastal Health.
Province sets Abbotsford’s home-building target
Abbotsford will need to build more than 7,000 homes in the next five years to meet a new target set by the province.
Abbotsford is one of 10 ‘naughty list’ municipalities with such home-building targets. The province wants the municipalities to reduce red tape in order to boost housing construction in order to meet demand and slow the run-away prices that have left many struggling to find a home they can afford. Cities that meet the targets can qualify for funding for infrastructure and parks. If municipalities fail to meet their targets, the province has said it could step in and assume powers that will allow it to rezone neighbourhoods and remove obstacles to the construction of higher-density communities.
Abbotsford has a first-year housing target of 1,019. Over the next five years, it will be expected to build 7,240 homes. And they can’t all be apartments (or houses on Sumas Mountain). The province has also set out recommended numbers of rental homes, below-market units, and one/two/three-bedroom homes.
Meeting the target would require a huge increase in construction from last year, when construction started on fewer than 600 homes. But the target is make-able. In 2019, the city recorded 1,435 housing starts and in 2020, construction began on 1,014 homes. Between 2017 and 2021, there were around 5,621 new home starts in Abbotsford, according to data collected by The Current from the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation.
Since 2021, though, home-building has drastically slowed. We reported earlier this year that in 2022, more homes were built in Mission than Abbotsford for the first time in at least a decade.
🤝 Now hiring
• Special Investigations Unit officer at ICBC
• Advanced care paramedic in Abbotsford with Emergency Health Services
• Auxiliary police guards at the Mission RCMP
• Welder at Gillwood Manufacturing in Chilliwack
• Crossing guard at the Abbotsford School District
Hiring in the Fraser Valley? Reply back and let us know!
📸 Current Cam
Each week we showcase a different photo from across the Valley and invite readers to share their best guesses about where it was taken.
Any guesses as to where this week’s Current Cam was taken? Fill out this form with your best guess—or with a picture we can use in a future edition.
Things to do
🗓 Folk music: The Little Miss Higgins trio will play a concert at Bozzini’s upstairs lounge in Chilliwack on Sept. 30. Details online.
🗓 Church concert: Northview Community Church in Abbotsford hosts its fall celebration concert featuring The Aras, Rafael Comeau, Steve Otterbein, and The Nicolenco Trio Sept. 29. Tickets online.
🗓 Langley comedy: The cast of Very Very Improv Theatre performs comedy improv games and wonder-filled long-form improv at the Bez Arts Hub in Langley the last Saturday of every month. The next show is Sept. 30. Details online.
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