2016 kind of sucked.
There, I said it.
That may be a harsh judgement, but look at what happened over the last year.
Alan Rickman died. And David Bowie. And Prince. And Muhammad Ali. And Gene Wilder. And Alan Thicke. And Morley Safer, for the fans of 60 Minutes out there.
Donald Trump somehow got elected President of the United States.
Suicide Squad, which had so much potential, was a DC Entertainment critical bust at the box office.
And the Vancouver Canucks, once the powerhouse of the NHL in the late 2000s, are on track for a bottom-five finish in the league. Again.
But playoffs, baby!
However, as depressing as it can be reviewing the last year, there are things that are worth celebrating as we move into 2017.
Three Olympic medals at the Rio Parlaympics is not too shabby, especially for a debut performance. But it’s not just about the medals. It’s about how fast he burst onto the competitive cycling scene.
Less than two years ago, Chernove began racing in track cycling, training out of a velodrome in Burnaby, while flying in and out of Cranbrook. Next thing you know, he’s qualified for the Paralympics and wins a gold, a silver and a bronze medal in track and road racing.
No big deal, right?
It’s a testament to the amount of training he put in along with the support of his family and coworkers with Elevate Airports that he runs as CEO, which manages the Canadian Rockies International Airport.
But he has also been recognized for more than just his accomplishments on his bicycle; in April, he was named Cranbrook’s Business Person of the Year (2015) by the Chamber of Commerce.
Chernove will be jumping back into the World Cup circuit for the 2017 season and is already starting to gaze down the calendar for the possibility of returning to the Paralympics in 2020 in Tokyo.
The images and stories coming out of the civil war in Syria are chilling and heartbreaking. Aleppo, a city that has stood for over 5,000 years, is in complete ruin, as skeletal buildings that have been hollowed out from shelling and fighting line the streets and dot the landscape.
The war in Syria has displaced 4.8 million refugees who have fled the country, according to the United Nations. However, some of those families, even those beyond the Syrian conflict, are now in the process of making a new life in Cranbrook, Kimberley, Fernie and other East Kootenay communities, thanks to a number of organizations that have stepped up as private and public sponsors.
I won’t list them all for fear of missing anyone and getting chewed out for it, but it’s been heartwarming to see how many church and community groups have taken the initiative to make a positive difference. The effort has not gone unnoticed, as Kootenay-Columbia MP Wayne Stetski praised the work going on across the riding in support of refugees in the House of Commons in February.
Granted, it doesn’t look all that great right now. But the replacement of the dam at Idlewild Lake was a high priority for the city because of the consequences of a structure failure.
And so, the lake was dredged and crews are wrapping up construction as I write this, with plans in the works to redevelop the park in the spring next year and beyond.
The city had to navigate a tricky path of provincial and federal legislation and regulation to tackle issues pertaining to the Western Painted Turtle and migratory birds.
But with construction nearly over, there will be opportunities to restore the area to it’s natural glory, while also adding in some amenities for families such as more picnic areas and playgrounds.
Hats off to city staff and mayor and council for including the public in creating the plan for the park, with feedback coming from surveys, a Facebook Page and open houses.
Look forward to seeing the city make Idlewild great again.
Lee Brown receives France’s Legion of Honour
Last year, I had the privilege and honour of interviewing and telling the story of Lee Brown’s service during the Second World War veteran as a tail gunner in the Royal Canadian Air Force.
He flew exactly 33 missions — he even pulled out his logbook to show me — throughout Scandinavia, France and Germany while manning a turret in Lancaster bombers.
In August, Brown was recognized by the French government, which awarded him the Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur — Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour — for his military service at a ceremony in the Cranbrook branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Brown was recognized by a French representative based out of Vancouver, who praised his service and lauded the special relationship between Canada and France.
It was a touching ceremony, with Mr. Brown surrounded by family, friends and fellow Legion members. He also deflected some of the attention off himself, asking people to remember the fallen crew members who served with him and have their unwritten name on the award.
The Legion of Honour is the highest French order for military and civilian merits and is awarded regardless of class, gender or nationality, and is comparable to the Order of Canada.