2016 Newsmaker of the Year

The year that was could go down as one of the saddest in recent memory, with the passing of icons and societal issues galore

The Kelowna Capital News Newsmaker of the Year

2016 was not a pleasant year on many fronts. Death, drugs and homelessness were all pervasive throughout the year.

So, with apologies to those looking for something more flowery, the Grim Reaper is our 2016 Newsmaker of the Year. He struck at will with little care for timing.

The Christmas season saw mother and daughter Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds taken on back-to-back days while singer George Michael died on Christmas day no less.

It was a grim exclamation mark for death after a year that saw so many icons leave us with nothing but memories.

Singer and poet Leonard Cohen, Mr. Hockey Gordie Howe, the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali, musical heavyweights David Bowie and Prince.

The list goes on and on. Arnold Palmer, Alan Thicke, author W.P Kinsella of Shoeless Joe fame, Canadian golf legend Dawn Coe-Jones, astronaut John Glenn, comedians Garry Shandling and Gene Wilder, singer Merle Haggard, journalist Morley Safer.

Locally we also lost folks who have made huge impacts along the way.

Community builder Ben Lee left us with a legacy that is second-to-none as did politician Bill Vos. Senator Len Marchand had ties to the area as did aboriginal artist Daphne Odjig, both of whom passed in 2016.

VIDEO: Kelowna residents speak on story of the year

Capital News Top 10 Stories of the Year:

Fentanyl

Homelessness

The Royals

Pot / Justin Pearson-Cannabis oil

Bus strike

Syrians

First Nations

Rail Trail

Gender

Plane Crash

And while icons and entertainers will continue to pass in the coming years, we also must take solace in the lives that they lived and the impact they made.

That impact is what will push us forward in 2017 and beyond. For it is good people that make the world go around and when one moves on, it leaves a void for others to fill.

Here in Kelowna, the news wasn’t always great.

Homelessness and the battle that people are waging to find shelter, avoid addictive drugs and get back on their feet, shows no signs of slowing down.

Taxes continue to go up across the region while people struggle to get by.

But hope is there in the human spirit that sees good community people fighting to make things better.

So as we get set to welcome a new year, let’s wish 2016 on its way. It was a tough one. Thanks for nothing, you might say.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel.

And that light shines from people within our community: Those that are willing to help others instead of sitting back and doing nothing, or worse yet, those that comment on everything and help no one.

Happy New Year folks. Let’s make the next one better.

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