And what a 2020 it was too; a look back at the top ten Barrie 360 stories in a very noteworthy year

COVID-19 may have prompted a lot of news in 2020, but it wasn't the only thing

Goodbye 2020, and good riddance.

Looking back at all the happenings over the course of 2020, it appears the only consistency was that there was no consistency. None of us had a moment’s rest from a near-constant onslaught of news stories, making it a challenge to whittle them down to ten.

After discussion and debate among the staff at Barrie 360, we present, in chronological order, the top ten stories to make the news in a year filled with newsworthy occurrences.

Kobe Bryant death

Kobe Bryant’s private helicopter crashed in late January. There were others aboard with the NBA legend, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Bryant is considered one of the greatest NBA players of all time. During his 20-year career, he was an All-Star 18 times. He won 5 NBA championships, was twice named NBA Finals MVP and was named the league’s MVP in 2008. He is the fourth-highest scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, surrendering the third spot on the list to LeBron James.

Teachers’ strikes

Before every kid was learning from home, Ontario teachers pushed hard against it. Remote learning was among the sticking points between the province and teachers’ unions that led to a series of single-day walkouts around the province.

Job action went on for months before a series of agreements were struck with the various unions in late March.

Pipeline protests

The 2020 Canadian pipeline and railway protests were ignited by the construction of a gas pipeline through 190 km of Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory in British Columbia. Indigenous land rights and the actions of police and other authorities came into question as the movement spread east towards Ontario.

Hereditary chiefs ordered the RCMP off their territory by January 1, and rail blockades in protest of the project soon followed. On February 6, the RCMP began dismantling blockades and arrested 28 land defenders. That led to protests across the country, including a major rail artery between Toronto and Montreal. Blockades continued through March in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec.

Blue and white plate fiasco

It took some prompting before the Ford Government admitted the gaff: new Conservative-blue license plate designs introduced early in 2020 were illegible when headlights reflected off them in the dark.

Queen's Park asks 3M to address reported issues with new license plates

The province eventually admitted to the error, saying the manufacturer would test out new designs while everyone reverted back to the previous blue letters on white background.

First COVID-19 death in Ontario happened in Barrie

Amid all the chaos that came from the first lockdown in Ontario, it might have been easy to forget the first COVID-related death in Ontario occurred at Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital. A 77-year-old Barrie man died in connection to COVID-19 on March 11.

RVH begins safe, gradual surgical ramp-up

A province-wide state of emergency was declared less than a week later. Since then, Public Health Ontario has recorded thousands of lives lost to the virus, while Simcoe County and Muskoka counted over five dozen deaths by the close of 2020.

Schools close due to COVID

The severity of the COVID-19 pandemic was really driven home by the mass shutdown of all schools throughout Ontario. The shutdown order came a day following the province’s first COVID-related death and amid March Break for many.

The shutdown left parents scrambling to come up with alternatives to keep their children entertained as the province quickly introduced an online learning plan that laid the groundwork for the virtual learning in play today.

First province-wide lockdown

Premier Doug Ford ordered all non-essential businesses to close as of Wednesday, March 25, as a response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic. In the three months that followed, Ontario lost more than a million jobs, and unemployment ballooned to 13.6 percent.

Science tells us the first lockdown had a noticeable effect on the pandemic; a York University study released in early December indicated a significant decrease in contact rates throughout Ontario following the implementation of a series of government interventions including the first lockdown. This led to a decrease in the spread of the virus compared to if no steps were taken.

A second province-wide lockdown would come into effect on December 26 in response to a second wave of the virus.

Nova scotia shooting

A thirteen-hour rampage across several communities in Nova Scotia claimed 23 lives all told. Among those, the shooter who set fires at 16 locations and impersonated a police officer during his spree. Police were criticized for not warning the public about the attack and not responding to previous warning signs surrounding the shooter.

Among those killed in the attack was Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 24-year veteran of the RCMP.

The Nova Scotia attack was the deadliest rampage in Canadian history. In the wake of the attack, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a ban on some 1,500 “assault-style” weapons including the types used in the attack.

Snowbird crash

The crash of an iconic snowbird aircraft in Kamloops, B.C. came as a one-two punch for many in Nova Scotia still reeling from a mass shooting, not a month prior. Killed in the crash was Halifax native Captain Jennifer Casey at age 35.

It was later determined May 17 crash may have been caused by a bird strike, impacting the craft’s right engine intake during take-off.

BLM protest in Barrie

In response to a series of racially-motivated police-involved killings in the United States, including that of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Trayvon Martin, new life was breathed into the Black Lives Matter movement this past year.

First recognized in 2013, it wouldn’t be until 2020 when Black Lives Matter found its strongest voice in Barrie. Several protests occurred in the city over the summer, including a rally at Barrie’s Meridian Place.

Despite a raging pandemic, it is estimated more than a thousand people gathered, many wearing masks and at a respectable distance, to protest police-led violence across North America.

Honourable mentions

A lot happened in 2020, so much so, we couldn’t keep it to ten. Here are a few other stories of note over the past 365 days.