The Regional District of East Kootenay and City of Fernie have donated $10,000 to the Fernie Valley Pathway. Above, Jason Sinclair, Mayor Ange Qualizza, Area A Director Mike Sosnowski, Mary Giuliano and Robert Champagne. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

City of Fernie, RDEK support Fernie Valley Pathway project

On Thursday March 22, the Regional District of East Kootenay and City of Fernie presented the Fernie Valley Pathway committee with a cheque for $10,000 to fund the preliminary engineering phase of the project.

The RDEK and City each donated $5000 to support the project, which will connect the City of Fernie to the ski hill community via a paved, multi-use pathway.

The preliminary engineering phase, or phase one of the project, is estimated to be completed in the next three months.

“There’s two real primary objectives with the project, and that is safety; getting people off the highway that are travelling … and the second one would be connecting our communities,” said Jason Sinclair, co-chair of the Fernie Valley Pathway.

Fernie Mayor Ange Qualizza expressed her excitement for the project.

“I think we’re all hopeful that it will be executed and offer a lot of healthy options for a variety of people in our community,” she said.

Referring to the success of the North Star Rails to Trails in Kimberley, Qualizza spoke to its wide use by seniors and people with mobility issues.

“I think having a trail like that in Fernie, I don’t even think we can dream of how much it’s going to be used, and who’s going to use it. I think that’s the thing that excites me the most,” she said.

RDEK Area A Director Mike Sosnowski spoke to the importance of catering to local seniors, and how this pathway will do exactly that.

“To have a paved trail that the seniors can access to enjoy days like this outside, it’s worth it,” he said.

“We’d like to thank the Trails Alliance and these two volunteers for all the work they do to keep this thing going down the road.”

Also in attendance was former Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano, who supported the project while she was in local government.

A large part of this project is the completion of the multi-use bridge across Lizard Creek, which is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Transportion and Infrastructure. This project, which will tie into the Fernie Valley Pathway, is estimated to cost $750,000.

By the end of summer, the committee hopes to enter into the next phase of engineering, which will include preliminary design.

“That’s where you start to look at permitting, for the actual detail and construction phase, which we’re targeting for next year,” said Sinclair.

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