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2012-12-29 at NOON

Top news of 2012

By Leith Dunick,
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It’s already being deemed the story of the decade. And it will take a mighty powerful story to knock May 28’s flood and sewer back-up disaster from that spot when the 2010s draw to a close in seven years.

Nothing came close to dominating the news or affecting the people of Thunder Bay like the flood, which caused millions in damage, forcing hundreds from their home.

But there was plenty of other news in 2012. Here’s our ranking of the top 10 stories of the year.

1.   Residents in several sections of the city, especially those living in Northwood and Thunder Bay’s East Rnd, awoke to the horror of tons of sewage flooding their basements, after the city experienced a once-in-a-lifetime storm that overwhelmed the sewer system and flooded out the Atlantic Avenue sewage treatment facility. A disaster relief fund was set up, and to date has collected about $1.2 million of its stated $5-million goal.

2.   The fate of a proposed $106-million event centre dominated the city hall news in 2012. The argument that had blood boiling on both sides was the location and in November, after yet another public open house on the subject, council agreed with the consultants and earmarked the downtown north core as the future site of the project, should they find the funding to pay for it.

3.   A lengthy battle between the province and its public-school teachers spilled over onto the streets of Thunder Bay in December. Elementary teachers staged a one-day walkout in protest of Bill C-115, which takes away their bargaining rights. The dispute hit local high schools too, when teachers pulled themselves from extra-curricular activities, leading to the indefinite suspension of the high school sports season.

4.   Minister of Natural Resources Michael Gravelle announced in November he was suffering from a treatable form of lymphoma, a potentially fatal form of cancer. Gravelle, who has remained on the job representing the people of Thunder Bay-Superior North, said doctors have given him a positive prognosis and that the chance of his recovery is excellent.

5.   Discussion about the permanent closure of the Centennial Botanical Conservatory arose early in 2012 when city officials temporarily closed the facility when panes of glass began falling from the ceiling of the 45-year-old greenhouse. The site got a reprieve from council, but has yet to reopen as solutions are sought.

6.   The Thunder Bay Power Generating Station hit the news in November when Energy Minister Chris Bentley announced he was “pausing” the conversion of the plant from coal to natural gas. City officials strongly opposed the move, citing increasing power demands by industry expected in the coming years as reason enough to keep the plant going. Bentley wanted to study a potential $400-million savings before making a final decision.

7.   In April NDP MP Bruce Hyer parted ways with his party, upset at continuing punishment over voting with the Conservatives to end Canada’s controversial long-gun registry. Hyer said he plans to sit as an independent for at least a year before making any decisions about crossing the floor in the House of Commons and joining another party.

8.   Lost in the flood hoopla in May, city officials earlier in the month expressed anger, but not surprise, that Cliffs Natural Resources named Sudbury as the site of a proposed ferrochrome processing facility. The much-sought-after plant will create hundreds of skilled jobs and Thunder Bay officials had fought hard to win the right to host the facility, against mounting odds.

9.   Louis and Jo-Anne Chikoski didn’t even check their Lotto Max ticket for several days, but it’s a good thing they did. The Thunder Bay couple in April collected the city’s largest lottery jackpot yet, a $50-million prize that had them promising to help family and friends while staying grounded.

10.  Thunder Bay was on full-alert after several cougar sightings were reported around the city in August. MNR officials didn’t rule out the possibility as the debate raged over what people actually saw, but no official confirmation of the sightings were made and the buzz quickly faded away – though not before hitting Twitter for a little fun.

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