Fall is in the air and I’m sure everyone is wondering how it is that summer disappeared so quickly. Certainly keeping active makes time move faster and council, staff and employees of the City of Fernie have had a very active year to date with several interesting projects in the works; one being the long awaited completion of a new website that should be up and running at the end of the year.
Our Leisure Services department achieved construction of the Outdoor Splash Park located at the Aquatic Centre; this facility will open soon and provide another great summer amenity for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The planning department has been busy with applications from the public looking to develop new projects or renovate existing structures. And our building department has seen an increase in construction values from this time last year with value so far in 2012 sitting at $8,782,000. This is mostly due to additions and renovations to existing homes. Additional to this the Planning Department has begun the process of reviewing and updating our existing official community plan for which we were fortunate to receive grant funding to help offset the associated costs.
The city has agreed to contribute funds towards a West Fernie Restructure Cost Benefit Analysis being undertaken by the Regional District of East Kootenay to determine what the financial implications to the City of Fernie would be if we expanded our boundaries to include West Fernie. The Operations Department has had several projects this year as well. Drilling of wells at James White Park was completed and they are proceeding through the BCEAA environmental process, which is ongoing. Flow testing will begin this fall. We have some water smart objectives such as Neighbourhood Water loss Management that is ongoing and Leak Detection that has been completed in Mountview.
Some major road improvement has also been ongoing this summer with 9th Avenue road reconstruction and utility upgrading nearing completion, 5th Avenue Reconstruction nearing completion and Martin Road Paving completed. This department has also been busy with a Liquid Waste Management Plan that has Phase 2 nearing completion, closed circuit TV of Sanitary Main Phase 2 completed as well as accomplishing about 40 miscellaneous water and sewer servicing and repairs throughout the city.
Brenner Road intersection on Highway 3 is nearing completion and that is a project involving the city, RDEK and the provincial government and something that we will be very happy to see completed.
Fernie has become a destination for mountain biking and this year saw several big competitions that drew hundreds of competitors from around the world as well as a very successful Wam Bam Jam dirt bike jump competition.
There is also filming of the Potato Project- Kokanee Movie that the city supported by way of road closures, use of city parking lots and access to city facilities.
New Design Review Panel members were appointed and thanks goes to Michael Clark, Robert G. Holmes, Michael Pennock, Stephen Robertson, Arthur Sombrowski and Laura Weckman for coming forward to sit on this committee. Another member is needed so if interested contact Bruce Lennox- City Planner.
Council also voted to send a letter to the B.C. Government to request calling a moratorium on the process of privatizing Liquor Distribution Branch Distribution system and sell off its warehouse. It is felt that this would impact local jobs.
Two proclamations were also supported; one in honour of World and B.C. Rivers day and one for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox campaign beginning in October. Council doesn’t support out of town proclamations but we do support local ones.
There are always letters of concerns from residents and council and I work diligently to respond to everyone. Recent concerns have been about deer to which I have been informed that use of sprinkler systems, noise makers and ultimately fencing seems to be the only remedies to stop deer from coming into private property. There are several deer that are easily recognizable around town.
Culling is not an option as there is a long process that has to demonstrate that deer have become excessive in numbers and are showing aggressive behaviour towards people. So far the deer wandering around town seem to be relatively gentle although they do like to eat what residents have grown in their gardens. A bear and three cubs have also been spotted wandering about town. It can’t be stressed enough that garbage has to be kept in an enclosed location where it can’t be accessed or smelled by animals not only bears but skunks and others. The city will be issuing tickets to those who don’t adhere to this bylaw.
Another concern has been highway speeds. Letters were sent to MLA/Minister Bill Bennett and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and council will also be meeting with the ministry at UBCM. To mitigate some concerns the ministry has erected signs on Highway 3, west and east of Fernie, to advise commercial and industrial vehicles that they are approaching residential areas and they have also responded that they will forward concerns about speed limits through the Fernie Skill Road to Fernie corridor to their traffic engineers.
To help prevent suicide Interior Health launched a Crisis Line Network this past year giving residents around the clock access to telephone support when they need assistance. The toll free number is 1-888-353-2273 or on line at www.suicideprevention.ca.
Congratulations to the recipients of the Queen’s Jubilee medals: Heiko Socher, Mary Menduk, Fred Gietz and Frank Lento. These four individuals have contributed for decades to the betterment of Fernie and we thank you.
As many have heard there are several changes of staff at city hall. The director of corporate services left for a new position in Lethbridge, the public works supervisor left for a position in Nelson and the planning technician has taken on a new job in Calgary.
All left for self-improvement and higher positions. Council did relieve the CAO of his position according to his contract and the community charter due to a difference in philosophy and direction. Council thanks these individuals for their years at the city and wishes them the best in the future.