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Posted: May 27, 2015

Mayor’s update for April

marygiulianoBy Mayor Mary Giuliano

City of Fernie

The City of Fernie has a multitude of committees with residents taking part in decisions that affect our city. I want to acknowledge the volunteers who care so deeply for this town. Council knows who you are and thanks you for your continued commitment.

Fernie was extended an invitation to host the BC Seniors Games but interest is needed not only by local residents but also neighbouring communities. Hundreds of volunteers are needed to achieve this event. Please let the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and city council know if interested.

The Kootenay Carshare Cooperative’s Community Company Car Program is available to anyone who wants to be involved – contact [email protected] for information.

Mike LoVecchio attended a council meeting to discuss rail safety. A further meeting was held with CP, RCMP, Regional District of East Kootenay Electoral Area A director, BC Ambulance chief, city staff and Mayor and a protocol to pass information regarding blocked crossings from CP Police to RCMP and then to the Fernie Fire Department has already been put into place. Thank you S/Sgt. Lorne Craig for making this happen so quickly.

Alan Fryer, Coal Alliance, Nic Milligan, Teck Resources, Mike LoVecchio CP, and Troy Cook, Steelworkers Union, presented on behalf of the Coal Alliance. The Coal Alliance is an industry group consisting of terminals, railways, mines and industry association working with organized labour and others that support mining and shipping of coal in B.C. to counteract the groups campaigning intensely against the coal industry.

The message from this group is that “it is vital for our future that those who support coal are just as vocal in doing so as those who oppose it.” Council provided a letter of support as by supplying steel making coal for over a century this area has provided enormously to the local economy and that of B.C. and Canada.

After years of lobbying the city has been informed that the 13th Street rail crossing arms project is a go with CP and the city paying each 25% of the cost and Transport Canada 50%.

Ridgemont Park is now in the process of being redone and should be ready for kids to enjoy by summer.

The 2015-2019 Financial plan is complete and in 2014 the city collected $5.76 million in taxes on behalf of BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority, Schools, RDEK, Policing Services, Regional Hospitals and $5.034 million for the Municipality. Fifty three per cent of the tax bill that you pay at city hall goes to the other agencies listed above; the city collects these taxes as mandated.

With downtown patios have come positive and negative comments.

FerniePatioEvery decision made by council has many facets of thought. The patios give downtown a vibrant look and feel, which attracts people to come and see what is offered on Second Avenue. Without visitor support our unique shops would close.

I often hear comments that Fernie has changed. Yes, Fernie has changed; it changed since it was strictly a coal mining town. In the ‘50s there were empty lots downtown. Now there are buildings. Where once there were small grocery stores with limited products now we have large ones that offer a great deal. Downtown had shoe stores, several clothing stores; we had Robinson’s five and dime, dry goods stores, furniture stores and a department store Trites Wood, apartment blocks (Queens and Nappanee) and cafes, restaurants and several hotels on Main Street, the King Eddy, Northern, Waldorf, Kings, Grand Central, along with the Fernie, Royal, Legion.

Homes were heated by coal and wood stoves and furnaces and snow falls were feet deep. There was low traffic on the highway and aside from Bossio’s bus stop, Texaco, Shell and Esso gas there wasn’t much along the road for tourists to stop for.

Change is inevitable; it’s the nature of life. Residents no longer have to wake to a cold house, no more bringing ashes outside to the alley, no more party lines where neighbours heard everything. They are instead enjoying new technology of TV, phones, Internet; who could have imagined the digital opportunities of today 50, 40 or even 10 years ago. The world is changing quickly and a mindset to accept change that includes city planning needs to happen. Some changes have been challenging, such as high real estate prices, positive for those who moved away, not so good for our children wanting to remain home.

High wage mining jobs and a four-day workweek brought change in people as well. There is freedom to travel often and spend dollars outside of Fernie. With less support businesses depend on visitors. It’s not like local shopping is enforceable. Residents upset over patios and bike racks need to think about a scenario of having plenty of parking with no shop to go into.

As elected persons decisions have to be made with consideration for everyone; five more parking spots have been created to improve parking for the disabled and for those with mobility issues. Letters are written to ask delivery trucks not park on Second Avenue. Councils do their best to accommodate and support everyone.

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