A busy year for the city
A great deal was accomplished in 2015 in the City of Fernie; the following are some highlights.
Updating of Subdivision and Development Servicing and Zoning bylaws were initiated, the Fernie Trails Master Plan adopted, a new playground for Ridgemont Park was installed, the lobbied for replacement light system for 9th Street and Highway 3 was agreed to by Ministry of Highways and the crossing arms at 13th Street rail crossing were finally put in place. Several surveys were conducted including the Citizen Satisfaction Survey and Tax Talk.
In response to comments that the city doesn’t do enough to engage the public, a lot is being done; however, there is always room for improvement. There are several current committees that have citizen participation including Leisure Services, Greenhouse Gas, Beautification, Design Review Panel, RMI and others like the OCP, Quality of Life, Cemetery, Vendors, Task Force, Forever Fernie, all have had active citizen participation.
Meeting minutes are on the website and available to read at City Hall as are all reports. City staff will respond to inquiries, meet with any citizen to answer questions and respond to email. As Mayor I am available at any time I am not in meetings, I respond to email while away and any member of council will tell you we stop and respond to inquiries made while grocery shopping, at restaurants or at any function we attend. This is part of our job and we do it gladly.
Council is interviewed regularly on radio stations, there is weekly Council Connection in e-KNOW and Fernie Free Press, also Twitter, Facebook and the city website for information.
Info is also sent out with the annual tax notices. For some coming to City Hall is intimidating but please let me assure you that the clerks at the front counter will do their best to help with finding whatever information you need or speak to whom you need to. Questions can be sent to council at any time.
A Spring Cleanup is held annually with city crews picking up lawn and garden waste and for Seniors 65 and over will dispose of large household items or recyclable goods but registration in advance must be done by calling City Hall.
Last July the city accepted an offer from BC Hydro to purchase land adjacent to the BC Hydro substation for the expansion. The 2014 Annual Municipal Report was approved, Station Square was designated as the permanent place for Mobile Street vendors and a very successful National Western Regional Mine Rescue Competition was held with competitors that came from Ontario, all western Provinces, Yukon and NWT and US States.
At the regular meeting of January 12, 2015 Council gave direction to “initiate a boundary extension process to increase the supply of service commercial and light industrial land in the city to include the remainder of, or a portion of the remainder of the area designated UE- Urban Expansion by Schedule D of the Elk Valley Official Community Plan situated north of Brenners Road subsequent to the owners completing two lot subdivisions of their respective properties.” It’s a year later, much discussion and work has been done; however, this still has a long way to go before it is accomplished.
The 2015-2017 Resort Development Strategy was approved with the province agreeing to extend it until 2017. The changes to the Development Cost Charge Bylaw were approved, the Sewage Treatment Plant Upgrade project was tendered, a $50,000 grant was received from the Ministry to help facilitate with the West Fernie restructuring project, the Facility Lighting Review and Upgrade contract was awarded, new tables and chairs were purchased for the Community Center. Council made a decision to have permanent public washrooms installed downtown. Other items approved include a social media policy, the Fernie Rural Fire Protection Services Authorization bylaw #2203 to extend service coverage to Kubinec Road and a partnering agreement with the Chamber for the Ambassador Training Program funded by RMI.
A very successful volunteer luncheon was held, we got through an intense bear problem issue, attended classes at FSS to interact with students, held a toboggan /bonfire /Christmas Tree pick up event, thanks to our wonderful fire department volunteers for all their work to make this event one to remember and presented the George Majic Spiritus award to our trail blazing pioneer Pat Gilmar who still works on trails today.
The Leisure Centre department held a fantastic Halloween party at the Court House that drew over 700 kids and many parents. Council participated in the Remembrance Day ceremonies, agreed to assist in Physician Recruitment for Elk Valley Hospital OR service and agreed to a funding request towards the Cranbrook and District Community Foundation for a program to serve Fernie and surrounding area.
The city has a grant program that assists small requests but also it provides funding to keep facilities like the Art Station, Museum, Library and Fernie Chamber of Commerce viable and offering the services they do. A new one may be added soon and that is the Senior’s Centre group that would like assistance to operate as the others do. At present the facility is kept open by volunteers.
The chair of the Senior’s group believe that with assistance a manager could be hired to facilitate programming for the seniors to add to what is presently offered and to ensure that the centre continues to operate and serve the people. This is something I support for several reasons. One being that our seniors are the ones that helped build this town, they are to be honoured and respected as much as the arts, the literary, the businesses or the history, in fact they are part of that history that gave Fernie the incredible quality of life that most of us enjoy here.
There is a lot more that could be listed as staff and council have been working diligently to complete as much as possible.
Recognition has to go to the CAO, directors and all workers as for the past four years the city has been operating with less than optimum numbers in various departments. The present group have picked up the slack and done an admirable job. Thank you all for your contributions. I have no doubt 2016 will be even better.