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Business owner shares evacuation experience due to suspicious object found on City of Powell River sidewalk

Device was later detonated in a safe area by an RCMP explosive disposal unit
Powell River RCMP blocked off the Marine Avenue corridor between Duncan and Courtenay streets during the early afternoon of November 12.

On November 12, Powell River RCMP were alerted to a possible improvised explosive device (IED) found on a Marine Avenue sidewalk between Duncan and Courtenay streets.

Rocky Mountain Pizza and Bakery owner Mark Dowling, whose business is located in the block of Marine that was evacuated, said the device was initially placed underneath a vehicle. Dowling, who was outside at the time, said the driver was moving his vehicle and spotted the device.

“He [the driver] showed it to me and I looked at it,” said Dowling. “I was in the middle of doing a delivery and I had to take out an order. When I came back, I guess [the driver] had contacted the RCMP and that’s when everything got shut down.

“I did see the device but I didn’t make any moves on it or anything.”

Dowling said when the RCMP arrived they took pictures and sent it to their bomb experts in Victoria. According to Dowling, the experts told the local detachment to leave the device and get all of the businesses in the block emptied out, and secure the block until the bomb squad flew from Victoria to Powell River at around 2:15 pm.

“A guy came down and he had his suits and his tongs; he put it [the device] in a box and took it to the Duck Lake gravel pit up the road and detonated it,” he added.

He said when the roadblocks went up, he had to shut down his business.

“It was noon, so we had the lunch crowd; we had to turn everything off and wait outside around the corner until the coast was clear,” said Dowling. “It was a pain in the butt because I had to send the staff home and when the police let everybody come in, I was stuck trying to deal with all of the bread and bakery items. I had food all over the place.

“A couple of staff came back to help me out and we got most of the work done on Friday night. I came in on Saturday and got it all cleaned up and we carried on. We probably lost $600 or $700 because of the incident. We’re all caught up now and back to normal.”

Dowling said there has never been an incident like this in the 30 years his business has occupied space on Marine Avenue.

Powell River RCMP staff sergeant Rod Wiebe issued a media release later in the afternoon.

“In consultation with our explosive disposal unit (EDU), officers evacuated the block and awaited their attendance,” stated Wiebe. “Just after 2 pm, EDU was on scene and transported the IED [improvised explosive device] to a safe area, where it was detonated.”

Wiebe stated that the investigation is continuing but police believe this was an isolated incident and there is no further threat to public safety. 

“Anyone with any information about this incident is asked to contact the detachment,” added Wiebe, “or to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1.800.222.TIPS (8477).