Two local initiatives have been granted funding from the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).
The Fernie Nordic Society (FNS) and the Fairy Creek Bridge project both received funding under the CBT’s Our Trust, Our Future process, which focuses on recreation infrastructure.
CBT’s Manager of Special Initiative, Rick Allen, says the money is part of a three-year program.
“One of the things that we heard from Basin residents, which occurred about a year ago, was the need for some type of support for recreation infrastructure. We went to our board, and our board did approve a three year program with $3 million a year, starting in 2016,” he said.
According to Allen, the CBT received 81 applications for the funding, asking for more than $8 million in total. In they end, the CBT granted 42 applications and $3.5 million.
“The intent of the program is to support infrastructure that help Basin residents lead healthier and happier lives through physical activity. Both of these met that guideline,” Allen said in regards to the Fernie initiatives. “The bridge is going to be a connector, and there are other benefits to it, not of the least which include moving people off the highway.”
Simon Piney is a part of the committee dedicated to the Fairy Creek Bridge project. He says the project was awarded $124,700 from the CBT Infrastructure Fund and will go towards covering the building, paving on either side of the bridge, lighting and landscaping.
“We are really happy that the CBT chose to support this project. It benefits Fernie in so many ways, getting bikers and hikers off the highway, connecting neighbourhoods with non-vehicle trails, benefiting our visitors and has a significant environmental impact,” said Piney. “Ground has already been broken and the footings poured. The two 15,000 pound I-beams that will span the creek have been shipped and should be here in a couple of weeks. We hope that the bridge will be opened in the month of July. .”
The Fernie Nordic Society received $70,000 in funding and the money will be dedicated to upgrading their warming hut.
“The Fernie Nordic Society is grateful to Columbia Basin Trust for approving a $70,000 grant in support of Phase 4: Elk Valley Nordic Centre (EVNC) Infrastructure Development through their Recreation Infrastructure Grant,” said Fernie Nordic Society administrator, Jen Grebeldinger. “This $100,000 project will allow us to complete the warming hut at the EVNC trailhead, install erosion control systems along the trail network, and expand the Teck Bridge over Lizard Creek.”
According to Grebeldinger, the completion of their project will have a substantial impact on Fernie’s cross-country skiing community.
“We have seen remarkable impact with the completion of the first three phases of development and foresee great benefits to the cross-country skiing community in Fernie, the Regional District of East Kootenay as well as to skiers from across the Columbia Basin region. These improvements will also further support FNS to host regional cross-country ski races that encourage high participation from across B.C., Alberta and our US neighbours,” she said. “Our goal is for Fernie to become a first-class destination for cross-country skiing, as well as to be an affordable recreation option for locals and visitors alike. Project elements are expected to be completed by this fall.”