Hannah Fitchett rounds the third barrel Sunday, Sept. 27 during the Gold City Showdown Open Timed Event Rodeo at Alex Fraser Park. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Hannah Fitchett rounds the third barrel Sunday, Sept. 27 during the Gold City Showdown Open Timed Event Rodeo at Alex Fraser Park. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Year in Review: September

The Observer looks back at September 2020

• The Quesnel School District released its return-to-school plans.

Students will be categorized in groups of 60 (elementary and middle school) or 120 (high school), to minimize contact. Mask use is required on buses for middle school and high school students, and parents are asked to evaluate their child’s health each day before sending them to school — and keep students home if they have any symptoms.

• The provincial ministry of health announced the second phase of construction at G.R. Baker Memorial Hospital would begin this month. This phase includes renovating and connecting the emergency department and intensive care unit.

• The provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) finalized the design for rebuilding and realigning West Fraser Road.

The chosen design will bypass the active slide areas along the section washed out in 2018. Work will include the construction of 5.6 kilometres of two-lane road on a new alignment on the east side of Narcosli Creek, including a new bridge crossing the creek, according to a news release sent out Sept. 2.

READ MORE: Provincial government has finalized detailed design for rebuilding West Fraser Road

• Quesnel’s commercial flight provider, Central Mountain Air (CMA), released its flight schedule up until Feb. 7, 2021, on its website, with no Cariboo stops listed.

• MOTI completed the preliminary design for the North-South Interconnector.

The proposed route would remove heavy-truck traffic from Highway 97 in the downtown core by allowing commercial trucks to bypass downtown. Two new signalized intersections would connect to the existing Highway 97 alignment, including Front Street and the Moffat Bridge Approach, according to MOTI’s website.

The design features a new 3.7-kilometre section of Highway 97 from North Star Road to River Park Road and includes two new structures to replace the Quesnel River Bridge and the Quesnel Rail Crossing Bridge.

• Over 100 cowboys and cowgirls from across the province flocked to Alex Fraser Park during Labour Day weekend for High School Rodeo.

It was the first rodeo held in Alex Fraser Park in 2020. All other events were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No concessions were sold, hand sanitizer was in the grandstands, and the public was not allowed to enter.

• A two-week drug investigation has led to the Quesnel RCMP seizing a large cache of weapons.

When police searched two homes on West River Road Thursday, Sept. 10, they found over a dozen guns, including an Uzi submachine gun and silencers.

“Drug traffickers frequently carry weapons and use intimidation and violence to not only protect their stash of drugs, but for debt collection,” Sgt. Richard Weseen said in a news release. “People associated to this group were known to use violence, and the arsenal of firearms they were collecting is quite disturbing.”

Police also collected a large amount of drugs, including fentanyl, and found $45,000 in cash while searching the two locations.

• Two COVID-19 exposures were reported at Quesnel Junior School (QJS) in the first few weeks of school.

The first exposure at QJS was Sept. 10-11, while the second exposure happened between Sept. 15 and Sept. 18.

• In a span of five days in mid-September, Quesnel RCMP responded to three firearm-related calls, including a drive-by shooting.

At approximately midnight on Sept. 16, a man narrowly dodged a targeted shooting while he sat in his parked vehicle on the 200 block of Reid Street, according to a press release from the RCMP.

Just hours later, at approximately 3 a.m., Quesnel RCMP received a report a man entered an apartment building on Abbott Drive with a rifle. After reviewing the apartment video surveillance, the RCMP were able to identify the man as Lane Elkins, a 23-year-old resident of Quesnel. After a brief foot chase, Elkins was taken into police custody

Around 5:45 p.m. on Sept. 18, the Quesnel RCMP responded to a 911 call saying someone was being held against her will in a residence on Allard Street. The police forced their way into the residence and arrested 28-year-old Sakasinin Charlie-Tom. Police obtained a search warrant for the residence and seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a loaded MP5 assault rifle.

READ MORE: Quesnel RCMP respond to three gun-related calls, including drive-by shooting, in five days

• B.C. Premier John Horgan called an early election Sept. 21, saying the COVID-19 pandemic requires stability. That stability is eroded three and a half years into his term with former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver sitting as an independent and preparing to retire, he said.

The provincial election was set for Oct. 24.

• More than a dozen cars, decorated with phrases like “no more stolen sisters” circled Quesnel Sept. 18, as the annual Take Back the Night march had to be changed this year so participants could properly physical distance.

Instead of a march ending with speeches at the Women’s Memorial Monument, a line of cars, with signs taped to their sides and words of encouragement drawn on their windows, circled the area around the monument.

• This year’s Culture Days celebration included the start of a new event, the Quesnel Downtown Art Walk.

During Culture Days weekend, Brenda Gardiner also hosted Art in my Park, an outdoor art exhibit and sale featuring works by Gardiner, Sybille Muschik, Pat Wahlstrom and Daphne Chow.

The new Community Spirit mural was also unveiled in downtown Quesnel on Sept. 26. The mural features artwork by 115 community members and can be seen on the side of the AC&D Insurance building.

• Alex Fraser Park hosted the Gold City Showdown Open Timed Event Rodeos Sept. 26 and 27, featuring barrel racing, tie-down roping, team roping and breakaway roping. The Showdown was also a qualifier for the ladies’ breakaway roping Canadian Finals, and Riley Bondaroff earned two qualifying spots with her performances over the weekend.

• Orange Shirt Day on Sept. 30 looked quite different this year, but it was still a meaningful day of reflection and support.

An invitation-only Water Ceremony with residential school survivors took place on the riverbank near Ceal Tingley Park. Elders shared stories of the impact residential schools had on their lives and on the lives of their families and let prayer ties go into the river. Following the ceremony, everyone walked to the Fraser River Footbridge, where a group gatehred wearing orange shirts and waving orange signs and pom poms to stand in support of Orange Shirt Day.


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