Old Christmas trees will be set ablaze on Jan. 9 at 4 p.m. at Fernie’s Aquatic Centre as a fundraiser for an off-leash dog park. The event will have many activities for the whole family. The Fernie Fire department will ignite the controlled fire to light up the toboggan hill.
“Activities at the event will be tobogganing, bonfire, music, BBQ and I do believe one of our volunteers is going to be organizing street hockey,” said Cassidy Heather, a board member of Fernie Pets Society and volunteer for the event. “We are asking people to bring their own toboggans and hockey sticks, we will be trying to supply some but won’t have enough for everyone.”
The event will also feature a raffle where people can enter to win prizes from local businesses.
“We will also be selling raffle tickets, five tickets for $20, that people can enter to win prizes from local business’s such as BARKSiDE, Fernie Tracks, Happy Hounds, Nevados, Big Bang Bagels, Coraley Letcher Yoga, Blue Toque and many more,” said Heather.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Fernie Pets Society for the construction of the new off-leash dog park that will be built just past the Bottle Depot at the base of Ridgemont Avenue. The hopeful construction start date will be this spring.
“We have been fundraising for it for a few years now, it will be a massive project. We need money for an environmental assessment, landscaping, dog park design, fencing, garbage cans and poop bag dispensers, benches etc.” said Heather. “As for the expected completion date that is something we are currently unsure of as well. We are hoping to be able to start construction on the park when the snow melts.”
There are two ways to donate your tree to the event, bring the tree with you to the Fernie Aquatic Center at the designated area, or put the tree on your curb for the morning of the event. Local Firefighters will be collecting trees in Fernie starting at 8 a.m. on Jan. 9.
A group of pet owners concerned with the amount of missing and stray pets in town created Fernie Pets in 2008. The group felt that posters and flyers were not the best way to publicize missing or found pets, so the group created Ferniepets.ca, where people could post photos and notices of found or missing animals. Since its introduction, the website has also created a platform for pet adoption. In 2010 the website was extended to the social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter.
“One unfixed cat and her mate can create 25 kittens in one year, and over 9,000 in just 5 years,” said the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies in a press release.
The program has been actively reducing the number of unwanted cats and kittens in the lower Elk Valley by spaying and neutering them. Stray and feral cats often live short, hard and tragic lives according to a press release from Fernie Pets.
The operation is part of a non-profit charity that is operated by volunteers. Fernie Pets is dependant on donations and grant money, making the On Fire event one of the programs biggest donation makers this year.