From the meteoric rise of Christy Clark to the historic downfall of the harmonized sales tax; from the communal shame of the Stanley Cup riot to the collective relief of an abducted child's safe return; from the notorious slaughter of dozens of Whistler sled dogs to the heroic rescue of plane crash survivors – CTV News was there for B.C.'s biggest stories of 2011.

Here are our picks for the top stories of the year, presented in chronological order:

Public outraged after cop caught on camera kicking suspect

Kelowna resident Buddy Tavares appeared to be cooperating peacefully when pulled over by Mounties on Jan. 7. In the YouTube footage of his arrest, the 51-year-old can be seen exiting his truck and kneeling on all fours on the road. Then came the kick seen ‘round the country; a seemingly unprompted use of force that went viral online, leading to anti-RCMP rallies and criminal charges against Const. Geoff Mantler. It agitated a public already frustrated at the practice of police agencies investigating each other, and the government responded. By year's end, a hardnosed U.S. attorney had been appointed head of a new independent watchdog agency to probe serious and fatal uses of force.
Kelowna cop charged with 2 counts of assault
B.C. cop caught on tape allegedly kicking man in face

Slaughter of healthy sled dogs shocks animal lovers around the world

The gory details of how the manager of a Whistler sled dog company shot and slit the throats of dozens of dogs were enough to turn anyone's stomach. Robert Fawcett, formerly of Outdoor Adventures, filed for compensation with WorkSafe BC after he says he was forced to destroy the animals during a post-Olympic lull in business. The gruesome story led the SPCA to unearth the carcasses from a mass grave and recommend charges against Fawcett. International outrage over the brutal slaying spelled the end for Outdoor Adventures, which has donated all of its assets to a non-profit association promoting animal welfare.
Charges recommended in Whistler sled dog slaughter
Worker went ‘numb' in gruesome cull of 100 sled dogs

Christy Clark rockets to B.C.'s top political office

On Feb. 26, roughly 28,500 BC Liberals voted erstwhile CKNW radio host Christy Clark leader of the party – and de facto premier of the province. With predecessor Gordon Campbell having stepped down in 2010 amid the worst polling numbers of his political career, Clark wasted no time implementing some quick populist policies to gain favour, including a long overdue increase to minimum wage. But her efforts may have been too little, too late for the increasingly unpopular Liberals, who recent surveys have put in a dead heat with the emerging BC Conservative Party. Despite shucking her campaign promise to earn a mandate through an early election, Clark has less than 18 months to reverse the tide.
Christy Clark to be B.C.'s 35th premier
BC Liberals and Conservatives tied for support: poll

Missing traveller survives seven weeks in wilderness

The disappearance of Al and Rita Chretien, a Penticton couple who vanished in March on their way to a trade show in Las Vegas, left investigators with little evidence to go on. Credit card records and surveillance footage led searchers to a small town in Oregon, but those clues would prove to be red herrings. Seven weeks after she and her husband went missing, a trio of hunters on ATVs stumbled across Rita in the Nevada wilderness, hungry and alone but otherwise fine.
Missing B.C. woman found alive after 7 weeks
B.C. woman survives on candy, melted snow

Vancouver Canucks give fans a season to remember

The 2010-2011 NHL season is one that Canucks fan will look back on dreamily for years to come. Decades of broken dreams seemed to be heading for an end as the team shook off the ghosts of the past, blowing past old foes like the Chicago Blackhawks in an exhilarating playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals. It didn't end exactly how fans had hoped, but the future looks bright for the Vancouver boys.
Canucks need only minor changes to win Cup: Gillis
The thrill of victory or the agony of defeat?

Riot tarnishes Vancouver's shiny self-image

The Canucks' devastating loss in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins made June 15 a dark day, but the mood turned positively black when downtown Vancouver became the staging ground for violence and looting. Rioters overturned cars and set them on fire, smashed windows to break into stores and left their fellow Vancouverites angry and perplexed. An overwhelming backlash led to websites and Facebook pages shaming those responsible and cries from the public for swift, harsh justice.
VPD recommends 163 charges against 60 riot suspects
Looting breaks out as riots intensify in Vancouver

B.C. votes out HST in referendum

Bill Vander Zalm got what exactly he wanted. The vocal former premier's campaign to toss the unpopular tax ended with victory in August, when it was revealed that B.C. voters had rejected the harmonized sales tax in a mail-in referendum. Unfortunately for the Zalm, his bid to recall the Liberals who supported the tax wasn't quite so successful and fizzled out almost as soon as it began. Now the province is left with one question: How do we pay back the $1.6 billion we were given in federal funds for bringing in the HST?
HST foes jumping for joy but others predict trouble ahead
B.C. may get extension on repaying $1.6B in HST cash

Three-year-old Kienan Hebert returned home safe

For days, tension across British Columbia ran high as hundreds of police officers and volunteers scoured the area around the small town of Sparwood for missing three-year-old Kienan Hebert. Details about his alleged abductor, Randall Hopley, previously being caught preparing a lair with stolen children's clothes, chocolate bars and sex toys compounded the community's terror – but the most shocking reveal was what transpired next. As quickly as Hebert was snatched from his family home in the early morning hours of Sept. 7, the boy was returned, happy and unharmed, on Sept. 11. Hopley was arrested two days later, but not before receiving a tearful thank you from the boy's family.
B.C. fugitive built child lair in Alberta cabin: family
Family gives tearful thanks to boy's abductor

Occupy protest draws ire, inspires hope, fizzles out

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there's no denying the grit of Occupy protesters who endured more than a month camping in the cold at the Vancouver Art Gallery in a bold push for social change. From Oct. 15 to Nov. 21, crowds in the hundreds, sometimes thousands, met daily to discuss a battle plan on behalf of the 99 per cent. But mounting policing costs and protesters' lack of discernable demands did not endear them to the public, and the tragic overdose death of 23-year-old Ashlie Gough marked the beginning of the end of the initial protest. Though subsequent rallies have been largely under-attended, Occupiers hint at a second coming next spring.
City mismanaged pricey Occupy response, protesters say
Occupy protesters defiant as cleanup deadline passes

Everyday heroes rush to burning plane wreckage

The Transportation Safety Board remains hard at work sussing out answers in the tragic Oct. 27 plane crash that killed pilot Luc Fortin and co-pilot Matt Robic and injured each of their seven passengers. The Kelowna-bound Beechcraft King Air 100 was only in the air about 15 minutes when an oil pressure indicator light prompted Fortin to reverse course; sadly, the plane plummeted onto a busy highway less than a kilometre from the runway. But from the wreckage emerged the inspirational story of the heroic bystanders who parked their cars, rushed to the burning plane and did everything they could to rescue the survivors. Their praises were sung from Richmond city councillors, the B.C. solicitor general and the premier herself.
Crashed plane seemed to have only 'routine' issue
'Heroes' praised for saving lives in fatal crash

Now it's your turn. Have your say and tell us what you think were the top B.C. news stories of the year -- and check back on Friday for the top 10 off-beat stories of 2011.