Fernie is a cultural city with good facilities and education, according to the City of Fernie’s Livability Report, released on Monday.
Members of the City’s official community plan implementation committee joined facilitators from the research group Halcrow Consulting in chairing discussions with community members on seven key topics about the community – transportation, housing, recreation, community identity, education and health, economy and environment.
The report was the result of the discussions.
“I think it was a great report,” said Fernie Mayor Cindy Corrigan. “I was not surprised by the results of the report because I’ve been watching it all along. I’m happy with the indicators that we’ve done well on.”
The results of the report were displayed by using a traffic light system where green represented generally performing well, yellow was some concerns about trends or performance, and red was significant concerns about performance and/or trends.
Fernie performed well in secondary school pass rates. The report said that transition rates to higher grades are generally above 90 per cent with grade 12 graduation rates at 92 per cent in 2008/2009.
The city also scored high in cultural activity and engagement, “Community survey respondents each attend an average of six arts and cultural events in the city. 71 per cent of surveyed residents report that they are satisfied or very satisfied with arts and cultural activities and facilities.”
Other areas where Fernie did well were volunteerism, availability and diversity of recreational facilities, sense of belonging, and winter accessibility and snow removal.
The report also identified areas of concern like population stability; “only 69 per cent of those people resident in the city in 2001 still lived here in 2006.”
There was also concern around diversity of the local economy and well paying jobs. The report said that women in Fernie have lower incomes than women in the rest of B.C.
“It wasn’t surprising to me,” said Mayor Corrigan about the incomes of women in Fernie, “I don’t know why that is. But it’s not just locally or provincially or federally, it seems to be a bigger trend, and I don’t know why that would be.”
One area that Mayor Corrigan said the City has been working to improve is housing affordability and the diversity of housing options.
“Diversity of housing options is something that we’ve been working on for a long time,” she said.
Mayor Corrigan said that the City has been very supportive of Parastone’s Veneto Place project and has been putting funds towards that affordable housing project.
The official community plan implementation committee will update the Quality of Life index annually, and a livability report and community survey will be produced every three years to coincide with the second year of Council’s three year term.