K-W: a year in review

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Historic result in byelection
For the first time in the history of this region, a NDP candidate took the reigns as Kitchener-Waterloo’s MPP, closing a 22-year-long stint from the Progressive Conservatives. Catherine Fife was elected into office with 18,000 votes in the Sept. 6 byelection after Elizabeth Witmer stepped down.
PC candidate Tracey Weiler came in second and Liberal Eric Davis – his second time running for the position – came in third. Since being elected to office, Fife has become the NDP critic for economic development, infrastructure, research and innovation. However, the timing of the election was extremely inconvenient for students since it landed right in the middle of Orientation Week for both Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Waterloo. As a result, student involvement in the election was minimal.

-Compiled by Justin Smirlies

Torso found in Kitchener dumpster
A gruesome discovery of dismembered human remains found in a dumpster behind an apartment building in Kitchener initiated the first homicide investigation of the year on Jan. 26.  There was no known connection to the apartment where the body was found and the homicide. The investigation later identified the victim as Kelsey Louise Felker and a 37-year-old Kitchener man, Stephen Roy Johnson, was charged with first-degree-murder and indignity to a human body. Information later emerged identifying Felker as a former sex worker, raising questions about the safety of sex industry workers locally.

-Compiled by Lindsay Purchase

Local business goes up in flames
The Mytnik family was shocked when they returned from vacation to be told by their son that their business, Uptown eatery Ish and Chips, had burned down. A fire that started at the back of the 37 King Street North building caused an estimated $500,000 in damage, destroying the restaurant along with an apartment located above it. The cause of the fire has not been released. Community members rallied around the victims of the fire, with a benefit at Starlight Nightclub raising $6,647. Kamil Mytnik, the son of the owners of Ish and Chips, has been working hard to open up a food truck in the meanwhile.

-Compiled by Kylie Connor and Lindsay Purchase

Ruling leads to dispute over city development limits
Waterloo Region faced a setback in its development plans after an Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) ruling sided with developers in allowing for the Region to continue its urban sprawl. The ruling allotted for 1,053 hectares of land to be developed, in spite of the fact that the Region was previously considered to have expanded to its development capacity already. This was determined according to the Ontario Places to Grow Act of 2005. After a unanimous vote by regional councillors, the Region requested an appeal from the Divisional Court.

-Compiled by Lindsay Purchase

BlackBerry releases new phone
2012 wasn’t the kindest year for the smartphone maker, Research in Motion (RIM). After their stock plummeted to about $7 a share in the summer and with numerous delays for the BlackBerry 10 device, RIM faced stiff criticism from the public and fierce competition from their two main competitors, Apple and Samsung. The BlackBerry Z10, however, was finally released in late January.
RIM, who changed its name to just “BlackBerry” for convenience sake after the release of the Z10, is still expected to release the Q10, a similar smartphone but with their popular physical QWERTY keypad. With glimmers of hope as of late, RIM’s fate has still yet to be decided.

-Compiled by Justin Smirlies

CBC opens local station
A local branch of CBC opened in Kitchener-Waterloo this March to provide local coverage through a morning radio show and additional online content. The Morning Edition radio show is hosted by CBC veteran Craig Norris and content is produced by Andrea Bellemare. The local expansion was long awaited, as the announcement came in Oct. 2011. K-W is one of many areas across the country that are benefitting from CBC regional expansion as part of its five-year plan, titled “Everyone. Everyway.

-Compiled by Lindsay Purchase

Mel’s rises from the ashes
After a devastating fire, insurance complications and building delays, Mel’s Diner returned to its home at 140 University Avenue West on Feb. 19.  The renovated interior was designed to mirror its previous image, before the 2010 fire, and the opening was well-received by customers both old and new. Charges were laid against three people in connection to the blaze, including former Titanium Nightclub owner Brent Campbell. Owner Jerry Smith kept busy in the interim period after the fire, opening another Mel’s location at 645 Westmount Road East in Kitchener, as well as teaming up with Ethel’s Lounge owner Glen Smith and former Ethel’s employee Dan Moran to open Frat Burger.

-Compiled by Kylie Connor and Lindsay Purchase

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