Year in Review: Biggest Vancouver news stories of 2015

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Image: Francois Peladeau / Instagram

2015 was a big year for Vancouver. From rising real estate prices, to forest fires blazing through the summer, to heavy water restrictions, and the federal election, there was no shortage of wild news stories.

We’ve compiled a list of the biggest Vancouver news stories of the year – a trip down memory lane before we head into 2016.

14. Nordstrom Vancouver opens

The opening of American department store Nordstrom was one of the most buzzed about stories this year. Vancouver has never been much of a shopping mecca, but Nordstrom filled a much needed luxury niche. Hundreds of people lined up on opening day to shop for brands such as Balcenciaga, Céline, Chloé, and Christian Louboutin.

Nordstrom even put on a fashion show that put Vancouver Fashion Week to shame and attracted celebrities such as Coco Rocha and Zachary Quinto.

Add in a sweet candy shop designed for adults, a beautiful bistro, and a lockable phone charging station, and you have a shopping experience unlike any other in Vancouver.

Image: Karm Sumal / Vancity Buzz

SEE ALSO: Hundreds line up for Nordstrom opening day (PHOTOS)

TGE_Nordstrom_FashionShow_VCB-017

SEE ALSO: 26 photos from the Nordstrom Vancouver Fashion Show

Image: Karm Sumal / Vancity Buzz

Image: Karm Sumal / Vancity Buzz


 

13. Rising real estate prices

Rising real estate prices are, year over year, among the biggest news stories in Vancouver. From a heat map that shows where you can and can’t afford to live, to monthly stories saying demand is up while supply is down, it seemed downright depressing at times.

And it wasn’t just a Vancouver issue. More than half of Canadians say they can’t start a family because they can’t afford to buy a home. Yikes.

Couple rising real estate prices in Vancouver with the second lowest minimum wage in Canada, and you have a recipe for a lack of affordability.

EstateBlock.com

SEE ALSO: Mind-boggling maps show where you can (and can't) afford real estate in Metro Vancouver

Stressed man via Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: Average price of house in Vancouver reached $1.2 million in November

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SEE ALSO: Affordable Housing Rally to protest Vancouver home prices

shutterstock_223364335

SEE ALSO: B.C. now has 2nd lowest minimum wage in Canada

A $23.9 million "tear down" on Point Grey's Golden Mile waterfront - Image: Sotheby's Vancouver

A $23.9 million “tear down” on Point Grey’s Golden Mile waterfront – Image: Sotheby’s Vancouver


 

12. Foreign real estate investment debate

Foreign home ownership was a topic of hot debate throughout 2015. Study after study came out attempting to determine how many of Vancouver’s homes were owned by foreign investors, but there was no official data from the province to be heard of – what’s more, Christy Clark said the province doesn’t intend to collect any.

Some say much of the foreign home ownership debate was embroiled in racism, and petitions were even launched to tax or restrict foreign ownership.

Image: Craig Paterson / Flickr

SEE ALSO: Petition to restrict foreign ownership in Vancouver

house

SEE ALSO: 77% of Vancouverites support absentee homeowner tax

Google Maps

SEE ALSO: 66% of Westside homes sold to Chinese buyers, study finds

vancouver real estate

SEE ALSO: Vancouver real estate study embroiled in racism debate

A $23.9 million "tear down" on Point Grey's Golden Mile waterfront - Image: Sotheby's Vancouver

SEE ALSO: Foreign Investment: Vancouver real estate restrictions vs. the world

A Shaughnessey home listed for $11.9 million - Image: Sotheby's Vancouver

A Shaughnessey home listed for $11.9 million – Image: Sotheby’s Vancouver


 

11. Bon Jovi concert cancelled

Bon Jovi’s much lauded Stanley Park concert scheduled for August 22 was cancelled amid allegations that event organizers Paper Rain Performances failed to secure the proper permits – or as Bon Jovi’s camp said, they were “proven unable to guarantee a properly-produced event.”

Ticket holders were eventually honoured with a private show at Rogers Arena scheduled for the same day, August 22. Bon Jovi’s manager later spoke out and hinted at legal action against Paper Rain Performances – who ended up filing for bankruptcy.

bonjovi

Image: Urban Forest / Screenshot

Image: Urban Forest / Screenshot


 

10. Arvind Gupta, UBC President, resigns after 13 months

Just 13 months into the position, Arvind Gupta resigned from his role as the President and Vice-Chancellor of UBC.  The resignation occurred just a month before the start of the new semester, and nearly half a year later few details over the circumstances of his departure are not known due to privacy and non-disclosure laws.

As well, the resignation was also the catalyst for other controversies: A UBC Sauder School of Business professor claimed the UBC Board Chair breached her academic freedom.

Gupta has since accepted a one-year position at the University of Toronto.

Image: UBC Public Affairs

SEE ALSO: UBC President Arvind Gupta resigns after 13 months

UBC Public Affairs / Flickr

SEE ALSO: UBC professor claims she was 'gagged and threatened' after speaking about President Gupta

Sauder School of Business

SEE ALSO: Opinion: UBC's Board fails to improve reputation after serious academic freedom allegations

Image: UBC Public Affairs

Image: UBC Public Affairs


 

9. “Om the Bridge” fiasco

The Burrard Bridge was supposed to be the venue for a giant outdoor yoga for International Day of Yoga on June 21, a project launched by Premier Christy Clark, but after concerns were raised by many regarding the cost of the provincially funded event (to the tune of $150,000) and that the event would also be held on National Aboriginal Day.

In one week of domino-effect-like consequences, event sponsors like lululemon and YYoga pulled out, Christy Clark claimed she would not participate, and the event was completely cancelled.

yoga

SEE ALSO: Burrard Bridge to shut down for massive Yoga Day Vancouver event

Photo: Flickr (BC Gov Photos)

SEE ALSO: (UPDATED) "Hey Yoga Haters" - Is Christy Clark serious?

Image: Christy Clark / Flickr

SEE ALSO: Christy Clark not participating in Yoga Day on Burrard Bridge

BC Government/Flickr

SEE ALSO: Burrard Bridge Yoga Day Vancouver event cancelled

Image: Christy Clark / Flickr

Image: Christy Clark / Flickr


 

8. The Paris Attacks and the world refugee crisis

The world refugee crisis was pushed into the hearts and minds of people around the globe when an image of a little boy washed up on a Turkish Beach was circulated by the media. When the Syrian boy’s connection to Vancouver was learned, the refugee crisis became a focal point of the Federal Election with all parties debating how many refugees should be let into Canada and how quickly.

With a growing ISIS presence, security was the number one concern for many, especially after multiple gunmen killed 130 people in various locations across Paris. But overwhelmingly, many Vancouverites, including businesses, developers, community organizations and churches stepped up to help the incoming refugees.

refugees

paris

Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock.com

Ververidis Vasilis / Shutterstock


 

7. August windstorm wipes out power for 500,000

Over 500,000 B.C. Hydro customers lost power during a powerful wind and rain storm that hit Metro Vancouver on Saturday, August 29, with some staying in the dark for days later. Wind gusts were as high as 90km/hr in Tsawwassen, but it was the weather that most people were angry at.

Many people took to social media to voice their disappointment with B.C. Hydro for a failing website, poor communication, and slow response speeds. But on the bright side, the storm offered a much-needed heavy rainfall for the drought-stricken region.

Image: Jarett Kemp

SEE ALSO: Lights Out: 28 photos and videos of Saturday's insane Vancouver windstorm

Image: Qbots via Instagram / Vancity Buzz composite

SEE ALSO: BC Hydro's Twitter strategy kept customers in the dark during storm


 

6. Vancouver City Council votes to demolish viaducts

The controversial decision to demolish the one-kilometre-long Georgia and Dunsmuir Viaducts in downtown Vancouver was one of the most significant transportation policies made in City of Vancouver history.

In late-October, City Council approved a $300 million plan to demolish the bridge structures to make way for park space and housing projects. But the project had its critics: There are concerns over the impact to local traffic, whether the replacement road network will be able to handle current and future traffic as City planners claim.

viaducts

Image: City of Vancouver

Image: City of Vancouver


 

5. Compass Cards start working

Originally slated for a 2012 launch, TransLink’s Compass Card project was stalled due to latency and reliability issues that arose with the ‘tap out’ function on the card-readers found on the buses. By tapping in and tapping out, transit riders could pay a more equitable distance-based fare.

To avoid any further delays, TransLink created a one-zone fare system on buses to allow for the full implementation of the Compass Card. However, this is only a temporary measure until a solution can be found for the tap out component and after a review is completed on the future fare structure.

TransLink Compass Card

Image: TransLink


 

4. Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite

A long and expensive campaign, costing Mayor’s Council $5.8 million, resulted in a resounding “No” from Metro Vancouverites after being faced with the question of lousy transit or a PST increase of 0.5%.

Had the coin fallen the other way, TransLink would have received $2.5 billion for a transportation plan that included an underground extension of the SkyTrain Millennium Line along Broadway, a light rail transit network in Surrey, a new seismically safe Pattullo Bridge, improved night bus service, the use of a third SeaBus and a significant increase in bus network frequency, including the introduction of 11 new B-Line rapid bus routes.

SkyTrain Expo Line / Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: 62% vote NO in Metro Vancouver Transit Plebiscite

Elections B.C.

Image: Elections B.C.


 

3. English Bay oil spill

When a grain carrier spilled 2,800 litres of bunker fuel into English Bay on April 8, it revitalized the controversial conversation regarding oil tankers in our harbours.

Varying amounts of sticky black oil washed up on shores from English Bay to West Vancouver, and beaches were shut down for some time. The Canadian Coast Guard’s delayed response and the volleying of responsibility between the municipal, provincial, and federal governments caused anger and frustration with many locals who frequent Vancouver’s coast line. While the spill was eventually cleaned up, it sparked some thoughtful discussion on how Vancouver can best prevent future oil spills and respond to them adequately.

Image: Seaside Signs

SEE ALSO: Cargo ship spills toxic oil in Vancouver's English Bay (PHOTOS)

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SEE ALSO: Oil spill cleanup effort a concerted mess

Image: Jill Slattery / Vancity Buzz

Image: Jill Slattery / Vancity Buzz


 

2. Federal Election

The 42nd Federal Election was a big one for Canadians, mostly because they had the chance to change leadership after nine years under Stephen Harper. From the Niqab debate to live election night results, and the big Liberal win, there was a seemingly endless media firestorm surrounding the election.

Vancity Buzz wrote over 125 stories on the subject, our most comprehensively covered event to date.

election

Image: Justin Trudeau / Facebook

Image: Justin Trudeau / Facebook


 

1. The hot, hot wildfire season and water restrictions

Our biggest story of the year was the harmful drought that plagued B.C. for the spring and summer, causing a costly and destructive wildfire season and the much-discussed water restrictions across Metro Vancouver.

The spring and early summer saw so little rain fall, such as only 4.2mm in the month of May, that Metro Vancouver began stage one water restrictions early on June 1. The quickly declining reservoir levels were alarming to many, with water reaching only 69% of its capacity by July 21. The authority eventually escalated restrictions to stage four. While a late summer storm on the Labour Day long weekend greatly helped, the accumulated rainfall in Vancouver between March and September was still 80% of normal.

This caused lawns to turn brown, many trees to die, and an aggressive wildfire season close to home, including a raging fire in Pemberton that almost jeopardized the Pemberton Music Festival – – plus a wave of hazy orange smoke to envelope Metro Vancouver for a few days in early July. A total of over 300,000 hectares of forest burned in B.C. in 2015.

Image: Jill Slattery / Vancity Buzz

SEE ALSO: Metro Vancouver water supply continues to dry up while usage soars

Image: Francois Peladeau / Instagram

SEE ALSO: 25 photos of Vancouver's Martian skies due to wildfires

Province of British Columbia via Flickr

SEE ALSO: B.C. drought now at maximum level 4

Cigarette Car/Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: Toss a cigarette out your window, lose your car: B.C. government

Shaylor/Flicker

SEE ALSO: Stage 3 water restrictions effective immediately for Metro Vancouver

Image: Francois Peladeau / Instagram

Image: Francois Peladeau / Instagram

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