A letter addressed to the Fernie Mayor and councillors on Monday, July 23, has prompted discussion about the future of Maiden Lake.
The current owner has requested that the City of Fernie take over this land and, in turn, take over the operating costs.
He says that the owners have been providing access to a public park on private land for over 10 years and are now no longer prepared to continue.
Roland Kraemer wrote to council addressing concern that their previously proposed parkland dedication to the City for the fall of 2018 would not be met, as the City of Fernie said further studies on the lake needed to first be completed.
Kraemer said that this could force them to “fence off and close the Maiden Lake property”.
The letter stated that, “The closure to public access and commencement of fence construction will take effect on August 7, 2018.”
Kraemer proposed that if the City of Fernie would reconsider its position and offer its unconditional acceptance of their subdivision and parkland dedication prior to this date, they would consider paying the fencing costs to the City of Fernie.
Acting Mayor Ange Qualizza and councillors discussed the letter and agreed to request a meeting with the owners of Maiden Lake to discuss further plans.
Mayor Mary Giuliano reached out to the community on Facebook requesting that anyone with an opinion about the City taking over Maiden Lake please fill out a survey. The survey asked: “Do you think the City should acquire the lake and park to keep it open for public use?”
This garnered 628 responses, with 310 ‘Yes’ votes, 292 votes for ‘Of course, I thought it was already a city park’, and 26 ‘No’ votes.
Some members of the community provided further comments on Maiden Lake that they hoped Giuliano could take to the City.
Some said yes, it would be great for the City to acquire the land, and it’s important to not lose an iconic Fernie attraction. Others said it would be great, but that they didn’t believe the City could afford to maintain it.
The Mayor says she started the online poll as a way of finding out how many locals use the lake.
She also wanted to gather some solid information which would be able to present to developer Fred Schickedanz of Schickedanz West.
“I got the feeling from the responses that many residents use that lake,” said Giuliano.
“When I got that kind of response, I knew that I could take it to Mr. Schickedanz to say, please, do not starting fencing it on August 7.”
Giuliano says that as a result of this survey, Kraemer, Schickedanz and other associated partners have given her their word that they will not start fencing on August 7, but meet with council on August 27.
“I’m really grateful to Mr. Schickedanz that he has reversed his decision and will wait until he comes before council for discussion,” said Giuliano.
City staff are currently working on an analysis, which will be ready for when this matter returns to council on August 27.