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City approves plans to build Dr. Sparling East Park

Fernie City Hall - N. Obre
Fernie City Hall
— image credit: N. Obre

With the cities approval, plans to reshape and upgrade the Parkland Terrace and Alpine Trails are underway.

 

During Mondays council meeting, the city passed a motion to name the park after Dr. Sparling East, a man who devoted his life to servicing the community.

 

“Dr. East was a very dedicated man, he was dedicated to the citizens of Fernie as a medical professional over four decades and he was involved in numerous community minded associations,” resident Tara Beck said.

 

“I think everybody here has heard of Dr.Sparling East in some fashion.”

 

Beck has been working closely with the Leisure Services Advisory Board (LSAB) to plan the layout for the park.

 

Over the next few years, she said she hopes to incorporate benches, picnic tables and garbage cans into the park. Dr. Sparling East Park will also have updated and extended trails, and interpretive trail signage that will educate people on the history of Fernie—including a rocky mountain snail sign and a ghost rider sign.

 

Building a gateway sign is the first phase of the plan, and it is estimated to cost around $8,500, Beck said.

 

But with financial support from the city and support from grants, private donations and the residents of the area, Beck said this project is feasible.

 

In fact, the residents have already dedicated a lot of time and energy to cleaning up the park.

 

On May 3 around 40 residents volunteered over 100 hours to help clean up the park area, Beck said.

 

And council took notice of their perseverance.

 

“It’s so gratifying when a group of citizens take ownership of their neighbourhood, of their community. It makes it easy to get behind,” Coun. Randal Macnair said.

 

“I think all of you are to be commended for doing what you’re doing,” Mayor Mary Giuliano added.

 

But the support for Dr. Sparling East Park sparked some debate over Maiden Lake.

 

“We’ve got highly utilized park space that we don’t even own,” Coun. Williard Ripley commented.

 

“We should be stepping up and taking over that park and upgrading it because it’s continually being downgraded.”

 

The developers responsible for the commercial buildings in that area own the park, but in the past they have encouraged the city to take over the ownership of the Maiden Lake property,  Director of Planning Bruce Lennox said.

 

“It’s used so much by the citizens of Fernie and the people passing through town,” Counc. Dan McSkimming said.

 

“I’d hate to see it get any worse if we could take it over.”

 

The city agreed to look further into purchasing the property. Coun. McSkimming suggested adding a gazebos shelter and washrooms to the area.

 

“I think it’s a real jewel for us,” he said.

 

 

 

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