City caught unprepared by census results

In the words of Richard Attenborough, “Our lives are in your hands and you have butterfingers?”

In the words of Richard Attenborough, “Our lives are in your hands and you have butterfingers?”

The local government’s greatest fears have been realized in the 2016 census: Fernie’s population has surpassed 5,000, which could mean an 18 per cent tax increase to pay for a 365 per cent rise in policing costs.

Fernie will be required to enter into a Municipal Police Unit Agreement (MPUA) with the province and will be paying about $1.3 million per year to run a municipal RCMP detachment instead of the relatively paltry tax of about $365,000 that it pays now.

The community’s population has been hovering around the 5,000 mark for at least the last 20 years, so it is possible the local government was lulled into a false sense of security.

And to be fair, the 2016 census indicates that most of the nation’s rural communities are shrinking so in bucking the trend, Fernie is an exception to the rule.

However, the city must have known it would break the 5,000 threshold by the next census in 2021 by which time West Fernie will have been annexed.

It was hoping to start saving this year for that eventuality but it is far too little and much too late now.

The city has indicated that it will be pleading ignorance to the province in hopes of avoiding a massive tax increase. I sincerely hope they’re successful because if you thought Fernie was massively unaffordable before this happened, just wait.

The lodges are nice, the wood paneled hotels are pretty and all those bars selling fancy cocktails are just fabulous but what I like most about Fernie are the folks.

The parents trying to raise kids, the older residents whose families have been here for generations, the gap-year ski-bums and the ones on fixed incomes who nevertheless volunteer for all sorts of good causes and groups. It’s people like them that separate a vibrant ski town from a corporate ski retreat. And it’s people like them who will be hurt most by higher taxes.

Twenty years is a long time for a government to be taken by surprise.

Here’s hoping the municipality can get its act together to manage the issue and other challenges that are sure to face this growing community.

Just Posted

Study shows special needs hard to meet in B.C. public schools

It’s lunch time at the Dunn-Reker house, and four happy children bounce… Continue reading

Fernie Museum fundraiser a blast from the past

Retro themed evening raises over $10,000 for museum programming

Fernie Alpine Resort opens for preview weekend

Fernie Alpine Resort will be opening for a preview weekend, this Saturday and Sunday

Local boys raise money for sick children in unconventional way

Four local boys have found a way to use their passion for… Continue reading

Skid Steer stolen from Sparwood Transfer Station

Elk Valley RCMP are seeking the public’s assistance with a theft that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Parastone weighs in on Slalom Drive

At a public hearing in Fernie Council on Tuesday night, Jacqueline Arling,… Continue reading

Ghostriders play hard against Nelson Leafs

Fernie Coach proud of team’s effort against top KIJHL contender

Cokato resident receives Order of Canada

Dr. Bryan Kolb has been instrumental in helping society understand what happens inside our heads

Mainroad discusses road conditions, standards

Last week, Mainroad, the Ministry of Transportation, the City of Fernie and… Continue reading

Dead rats on doorstep greets Summerland mayor

Two rodents have been delivered to Peter Waterman’s doorstep

Cougar confronts man in Clearwater

Clearwater resident Barry Joneson had a close encounter of the cougar kind

Panda picks Argonauts for the win

Giant panda at the Toronto Zoo picks Argos to win Grey Cup on Sunday

Most Read