Jonas Peterson and Gillian Craig bought their 1978 Catalina 30 sailboat last summer in hopes of leading a more sustainable and mobile lifestyle. (Black Press Media file photo)

Jonas Peterson and Gillian Craig bought their 1978 Catalina 30 sailboat last summer in hopes of leading a more sustainable and mobile lifestyle. (Black Press Media file photo)

Looking back at the top Victoria stories of 2021

Human suffering, climate and environment and household sustainability were key themes

Victoria News readers in 2021 gravitated largely to the human stories, from an individual scale to a more community and global scale.

The themes of sustainability, climate change and the state of public health also appeared in our most-read stories of the year, but no story captured readers’ attention on more than that of Dez Young, a 19-year-old cancer patient in Victoria General Hospital.

Flawed system leaves 19-year-old starving for weeks at Victoria hospital

The experience of Young, a childhood cancer survivor who relies on a feeding tube to ingest nutrition, exposed a major gap in the system when he was in care at VGH. During his stay, reported on in April, Young went as many as 16 days without solid food due to the absence of a radiologist to replace his feeding tube. Relying on a saline and glucose IV alone, his body weight diminished well below that of when he had checked in.

“I was begging for food and I wasn’t getting any,” Young told Black Press Media. He voiced appreciation for the efforts of doctors and nurses to slot him in for the tube replacement procedure, rather than getting bumped for more “urgent” surgeries, but worried about his weakening condition. “While intentions are good,” he said, “we need resources and actual actions.”

Vancouver Island slides west, tremors could signal tectonic shifting

Readers also kept an eye on the Island’s big moves: a few millimetres into the Pacific Ocean, to be exact. In October, earthquake seismologists with Natural Resources Canada reported over 2,00 tiny tremors in the south Island and Puget Sound area. Although the Island typically moved east with those of the tectonic plates, the episodic tremor and slip event caused a shift west a length equivalent to the thickness of five dimes.

Victoria couple chases freedom, sustainability on 30-foot sailboat

Further to the theme of sustainability, residents of Victoria were rapt with the “relation-ship” of Jonas Peterson and Gillian Craig, a pair of 22 year olds who in March shared the story of their new home – a 1978 Catalina 30 sailboat.

Considering the city’s average home price and rent averaged $1.16 million and $1,500/month, respectively, the decision to live in their cozy (if not always climate equipped) sailboat for about $700 a month was easy, the college sweethearts said. It also supported a bonding principle the two shared when they first met – a desire to live in a more sustainable and mobile home.

“Your habitat is way more important than people realize,” Peterson told Black Press Media at the time. “It has a huge effect on your lifestyle, and in our case, our health and happiness.”

Our Place Society in Victoria sends strong message by closing drop-in centre for a day

Readers may have been surprised to hear in September about Our Place Society’s response to growing tensions among its community during a surge in the COVID crisis. The society closed its drop-in centre Sept. 16 amid increasing incidents of violence related to differences of opinion on public health measures.

“We just wanted to send a little message to those we serve that certain things are not tolerated by us. That’s violence towards others, violence towards staff and non-compliance with mask-wearing during a time of COVID,” Our Place Society CEO Julian Daly told Black Press Media. They’d closed “to regroup a little bit,” he said.

Eight weather stations break high heat records on southern Vancouver Island

Many readers also chose to learn more about the effects of the heat dome B.C. experienced at the end of June.

Eight weather stations broke temperature records on southern Vancouver Island, with the heat dome responsible for readings of 36.7 C at Environment Canada’s south coastair and precipitation monitoring network station, 36.1 C on the Malahat and 35.7 C at the University of Victoria.

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