The Vancouver Courier’s crack team of journalists collectively writes hundreds of stories every year.
And as 2019 comes to a close, we’re looking back at which stories really got people reading over the last 12 months.
10. Canuck the crow
It wouldn’t be a Vancouver news retrospective without an appearance by the city’s favourite winged celebrity Canuck the crow.
Canuck made quite a bit of news over the last 12 months with his untimely disappearance back in the summer: he was last seen in his East Van ‘hood on Aug. 30, fans quickly banded together and donated $10,000 for a reward, there were unconfirmed sightings of a bird that resembled Canuck popping up in Yaletown and a Craigslist post, which has since been taken down, that claimed to have found Canuck’s body.
However, it was Kudos and Kvetches’ missive on how Vancouverites will react when Canuck is no longer of this world that really struck a nerve…
9. Vancouver ridings to watch in the federal election
Ahead of this fall’s federal election, veteran political reporter Mike Howell broke down Vancouver’s ridings, and stories, to watch.
If there was one storyline Vancouver, and the nation, was watching closely on election night it had to be the saga of Jody Wilson-Raybould and whether or not she would retain her seat in Vancouver-Granville after getting ousted from the Liberal party and running as an independent.
8. New condos at Oakridge Centre don’t come cheap
* This story was actually posted online in December 2018 but some stories have staying power, and this one continued to attract readers throughout 2019.
A sales sheet posted on social media in late 2018 showed prices for market condos in a pair of towers being built as part of the Oakridge Centre redevelopment started at more than $800,000 and soared as high as $4.3 to $5.7 million.
7. Downtown Eastside shooting spree
After three people were shot in the span of just 15 hours back in September, Vancouver police said a gang war was proliferating in the city’s Downtown Eastside with both new and long-established gangs preying upon residents of the neighbourhood and the Oppenheimer Park encampment.
6. One neighbourhood’s traffic nightmare
Residents in a pocket of Southeast Vancouver raised the alarm after years of calling for help to address traffic and transit issues in their neighbourhood.
People living in Tugboat Landing, a small community in Fraserview at the intersection of East Kent Avenue South and Victoria Drive, say on some mornings they can’t get out of their driveways because of a build-up of traffic. Just crossing the street has become a challenge as impatient drivers speed through the neighbourhood.
5. Raving for a reason
Vancouver billionaire Chip Wilson was back in the news in August for all the wrong reasons as dozens of artists, creatives, activists, small business owners and their supporters staged an afternoon “rave against renovictions” outside his Point Grey mansion.
The group was protesting a “crisis of renovictions” and a dwindling number of DIY spaces — independent, artist-run studios, music venues and collective exhibition spaces — in the city and targeted Wilson because, they said, more than 18 different spaces have been renovicted from properties owned by his company, Low Tide Properties, in the last two years.
4. Businesses in trouble on South Granville
A number of small, locally-owned businesses — including Ouisi Bistro and women’s clothing store Plum, both of which closed in October, and West Restaurant, which will close on New Year’s Eve — are moving out of one of the city’s marquee commercial districts citing high property taxes, labour costs and exorbitant leases.
3. How do you explain Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to tourists?
Over the course of several weeks, a Courier investigation looked at ongoing issues in the city’s Downtown Eastside, which many say is worse than it’s ever been, and the effect it has on tourism and businesses.
2. Federal election candidates
It’s certainly not sexy, but part of the Courier’s role is to provide readers with news they can use, which brings us to our second most-read story of the year — our guide to all the candidates running in Vancouver in the federal election.
And the Courier story that got the most views on our website in 2019 is….
1. Whatever happened to “Penis Satan”?
On Sept. 9, 2014, commuters in East Van woke up to a bright red satanic statue placed one block north of Clark Drive and Great Northern Way. The bright red, fibreglass statue of Satan, stood seven-feet-tall, brandishing the devil’s horns salute and sporting a hard-to-ignore erection.
The guerilla art piece removed by city crews within two days, but speculation around the mysterious sculpture continued as the story made international headlines.
Five years later, reporter John Kurucz tracked down the statue’s creator, who had managed to keep his identity a secret.