A Saanich home listing is attracting a lot of attention on social media after being featured in a TikTok video. (Courtesy Realtor.ca)

A Saanich home listing is attracting a lot of attention on social media after being featured in a TikTok video. (Courtesy Realtor.ca)

The Saanich News’ most-read stories from 2022

From bank robbery to invasive plants, many stories came from Greater Victoria’s largest municipality

The Saanich News took a look back at the most read stories online from 2022.

VIDEO: Witnesses report ‘at least 50’ shots fired after brazen bank shooting in Saanich – June 28, 2022

While the June 28 shooting outside a Saanich bank wasn’t the only tragic event that shook the community this year, it perhaps came as the most unexpected.

Six officers were injured in a daytime bank robbery at the Bank of Montreal location on Shelbourne Street near Pear Street after an intense exchange of gun fire that also left the two suspects dead at the scene.

Witnesses in the area reported hearing what sounded like “at least 50” shots fired.

Three of the injured GVERT officers were members of the Saanich Police Department, while the others were members of the Victoria Police Department. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the incident, issuing a statement on social media the day of the bank robbery.

“Like many people across the country, I am shocked and saddened by the violence in Saanich … I’m keeping the police officers who were injured in today’s shooting – and their colleagues who also rushed towards danger to keep people safe– in my thoughts,” he wrote.

Despite the horror that unfolded that day, residents remained resilient and came together to heal. Just over a month after the shooting, a Saanich neighbourhood gathered for a block party on Elm Street, hosting some 60 people.

“The party was wonderful,” said Rebecca Kirkwood, an ER nurse at Royal Jubilee Hospital who helped treat two of the injured officers and organized the event. “It was so much fun to have people we have never met before come out and exchange stories about what they were doing during the incident and all that … later in the night we set up the camp fire and people brought out their guitars and sang around the fire.”

All injured officers hospitalized as a result of the incident were eventually discharged.

Mother of teen killed at Saanich intersection consoles cyclist hit at same spot – Feb. 10, 2022

It’s been somewhat of a treacherous year on the roads for pedestrians and cyclists in Saanich, and the second-most read story going back to February highlights just that.

Cyclist Paul O’Callaghan was struck by a vehicle at Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman Drive on Feb. 8. He was knocked unconscious and when he came to, a woman was tearfully comforting him. Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan at that moment, the woman was the mother of Kaydence Bourque, a Saanich teen killed at the same intersection in December last year.

“She was leaning over me and stroking my forehead, it’s incredible what she did, she put my needs first and is such a wonderful person, he said.”

The experience prompted O’Callaghan to call for adoption of more progressive roadway rules, such as allowing cyclists to take the whole lane where no room for bikes exists, instead of being forced to ride on the shoulder.

“In the UK, bicycles and pedestrians are prioritized,” he said, adding it seems vulnerable road users in B.C. get the short end of the stick.

Saanich community shocked, saddened by loss of entrepreneur and her baby – Aug. 25, 2022

The heartbreaking death of Amanda (Mandy) Welch and her newborn, Rachelle Daisy Green-Welch, left the whole community devastated.

Welch died Aug. 23, just one day after her baby, according to social media accounts for her business.

“We thought we were having a baby, but instead we had an angel. I’m sure you had to leave us as well, to go take care of our little angel baby girl,” read a tribute attributed to her husband, Daniel Welch. “You were the most incredible, talented, breathtakingly beautiful woman and the impact you had on so many people was astounding … The accomplishments you made in such a short time is spectacular, but you’ve left us too soon.”

The sentiment was shared by the business community in Saanich, where Welch first launched Pachulah at Uptown in 2016. Her passion for designing and creating jewelry helped her business grow rapidly, which caught the interest of local and international buyers, and led to a Waikiki location in 2018.

“We are grateful she chose Uptown to cultivate her creativity and business. Mandy’s positive bright light and presence will be greatly missed,” read an Uptown tribute.

Invasive plant rampant in Saanich, CRD a ‘hotspot’ for shiny geranium – May 16, 2022

One invasive plant relatively new to the Capital Region caught the attention of specialists and members of the public concerned about its effects on local ecosystems.

Shiny geranium, which can appear as ground cover and looks similar to at least three other non-invasive plants around the region, has been the target of eradication efforts by the province, in conjunction with local governments and landowners, since 2014.

But Glenn Harris, senior manager for environmental protection with the Capital Regional District called Greater Victoria a “hot spot for this species in B.C.” Despite active management, he added that the species continues to aggressively spread, especially on private properties.

Saanich resident Colleen O’Brien was one resident who sounded the alarm about shiny geranium to raise public awareness about the plant.

“Not many people even know to look for this plant, although their property may be infested with it,” she told Black Press Media. “I’ve found several such properties in my sleuthing.”

To prevent spread, landowners were asked not to trade, sell, mow or compost the plant.

How to tell if a call from ‘CRA’ is legitimate or a scam – June 10, 2021

Scams are nothing new and that’s why this story from 2021, courtesy of the Canadian Press, was on of this year’s most-read stories.

One common scam across the country is a phone call claiming to be the Canada Revenue Agency demanding an immediate payment.

Experts offered some tips on how to tell if it’s really the government calling. Cherolle Prince, a financial crimes expert at KPMG, said it’s important to verify that it’s really the CRA on the other side of the line before divulging any information.

“Ask the right questions to yourself, does this call make sense,” she said. “Why does the CRA need that information? Have I provided that to them already? What would they be doing with that information and why do they need it now?”

Prince said a red flag ould be if the caller is asking for information over the phone that the CRA should already have.

“Yes, the CRA may ask you questions, but they aren’t going to call you and ask for personal information as a way to identify you, it is part of their authentication protocol, but they would not call you for that information.”

Saanich home featured in ‘creepy’ listings goes viral with TikTok video – May 18, 2022

One Saanich real estate listing garnered a lot of attention on social media earlier this.

TikTok user Bobbicurtislee, with a profile described as “Oddities on Elm Street” posted a video commentary on the “creepy” Saanich listing, taking viewers on a 3-D walk through while she compared the home to a horror movie.

Comments on May 16 post ranged from disbelief to others noting the price, such as one user stating “800K for a house in B.C.? Murder scene or not, that’s a steal.”

The home on Hawthorne Street in Gordon Head was listed on realtor.ca for $799,900 with a note indicating it had been sold pending deposit.

The Saanich Police Department confirmed, however, that they had no record of the home being the site of a murder.

SaanichYear in Review

 

Rebecca Kirkwood organized a block party for the residents of Elm Street in Saanich as a way of coming together and healing after the June 28 shootout at the BMO Bank of Montreal branch on Shelbourne Street nearby. (Courtesy of Rebecca Kirkwood)

Rebecca Kirkwood organized a block party for the residents of Elm Street in Saanich as a way of coming together and healing after the June 28 shootout at the BMO Bank of Montreal branch on Shelbourne Street nearby. (Courtesy of Rebecca Kirkwood)

Paul O’Callaghan was hit while cycling on Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman, the same intersection where Saanich teen Kaydence Bourque was killed. He is at home recovering from a broken ankle and many cuts and bruises while calling on the district to urgently fix this intersection. (Photo courtesy of Paul O’Callaghan)

Paul O’Callaghan was hit while cycling on Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman, the same intersection where Saanich teen Kaydence Bourque was killed. He is at home recovering from a broken ankle and many cuts and bruises while calling on the district to urgently fix this intersection. (Photo courtesy of Paul O’Callaghan)

Amanda (Mandy) Welch died Aug. 23, one day after baby Rachelle Daisy Green-Welch, according to social media accounts for her business. (Pachulah/Facebook)

Amanda (Mandy) Welch died Aug. 23, one day after baby Rachelle Daisy Green-Welch, according to social media accounts for her business. (Pachulah/Facebook)