Mayor’s update

Fernie City Hall.  - T. Hynd
Fernie City Hall.
— image credit: T. Hynd

By Mary Giuliano

A 20,000 square meter Max Turyk Field, boat launch  at Dogwood Park, Splash Park and patios, flowers and decorative lighting, and a committment to the Energy Diet program to realize savings are some of the things accomplished in 2013.

The Leisure Services Master Plan, a long-range planning document, $653,000 of federal gas tax funding to improve  wastewater treatment to protect the Elk River, and completion of a Liquid Waste Management Plan and a facility study were also finalized.

The City has engaged Urban Systems to review the Development Cost Charge Bylaw and added an Emergency Planning Committee to put together an emergency program to be ready for disasters.

The Official Community Plan update is almost completed after months of hard work by a dedicated committee aiding the consultants.

Council approved expenditure of $163,000 for the purchase of stage and related infrastructure funded by the Resort Municipality Initiative and new directional signage will be placed in areas around town as a result of the Comprehensive Signage Strategy

I want to mention a newly formed group that is looking at the possibility of a new college campus and convention centre to Fernie, as well as the beautification subcommittee that is bringing art to the streets with a program to paint the dumpster bins around town, modelled after the very successful program of art banners.

Something else being worked on by the City and the Lions Club is the possibility of finding crown land suitable as a multi -use exhibition ground for the many organizations that plan important events such as the annual Demolition Derby and music festivals.

In December I attended an evening with Santa at Rocky Mountain Village (RMV) and it was wonderful to see residents enjoy a little attention and a gift from Santa. Thanks to Jim and Alice Booth for organizing this event and to Teck for sponsoring the gifts.

The Heritage Library hosted seniors from RMV and Fernie Academy kindergarten students last week with Anie Hepher leading a sing-along and Lori Bradish reading the story of The Curse. Tea served in china cups and cookies followed thanks to Emma Dressler and staff of the library.

The City has a letter dated June 4, 2013 from Mr. Gawryluk thanking Mayor and council for “meeting with us to discuss the possibility of erecting some form of monument to acknowledge and respect those individuals who have passed away and for which there is no known place of rest.”  That same month another letter was submitted reiterating that request and suggesting, “A committee should be set up to examine this issue in detail and be comprised of representatives from all the stakeholders.”

On July 8, 2013 Council adopted the Cemetery Committee’s Terms of Reference and staff was directed to “Advertise for volunteers and contact the Fernie Heritage Cemetery Society and the Fernie and District Historical Society for nomination from their organizations for Council’s consideration”.

The mandate of the Committee as defined in the Terms of Reference was to “Advise Council on a suitable location for the placement on a monument to honour those individuals who have been laid to rest in unmarked graves” and “The primary objective of the Committee is to identify a suitable location for the installation of the monument and oversee the installation requirement.”

Advertising followed and committee members appointed with  a date to meet set for January 21, 2014.  Documents provided to the City by the B.C. Archaeological Branch indicate that a site inventory report was prepared in 2003 in relation to the area referred to by Mr. Gawryluk as the Stork Cemetery. This report indicates that the area is protected by legislation. Staff has contacted the B.C. Archaeological Branch to determine whether additional steps need to be taken to register the area as a historical site.

The committee will continue to work towards this mandate as requested in order to honour the people who lie in unmarked graves. It must be emphasized that the City of Fernie does not have authority to trespass on private property and the area around the little cemetery at Silver Ridge that is fenced is private property. However at the January 27, 2014 regular council meeting, Council provided direction that during 2014 budget deliberations Council consider a funding allocation to undertake work to delineate the boundary of the area referred to in documents provided by Mr. Gawryluk as the Stork Cemetery, if that is deemed necessary by the B.C. Archaeological branch. Also an archaeologist has been contacted regarding the potential use of ground penetrating radar on areas owned by the city.

It bears repeating that the area outside of the fenced area referred to as the Munroe Cemetery is privately owned by the developer of Silver Ridge and the City has no authority to undertake any works on those lands. As requested the City has allowed Mr. Gawryluk access to all cemetery records in its possession.

Ownership of St. Margaret’s Cemetery didn’t transfer to the City until 1949. Prior to that date it was owned by the Crow’s Nest Pass Coal Co. Ltd. and the Crow’s Nest Pass Electric Light and Power Co. Ltd.

Last Tuesday STARS’ new helicopter came to the Elk Valley Hospital and it was greeted by many excited people.

I was very happy to have the opportunity to thank the pilot and paramedics for this lifesaving service to our area.


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