An architect made a presentation to Fernie council this week, recommending creating a full service community centre at the Aquatic Centre site.
Eric Lees from Lees and Associates Landscape Architects in Vancouver presented their ideas for the Leisure Services Master Plan at the Committee of The Whole meeting Monday morning in council chambers.
The company had conducted a survey to find out which facilities people wanted and used the most. 31 per cent said the pool is their most valued amenity, the highest of all the city’s recreational amenities. Lees said the Aquatic Centre was a great leisure centre and recommended expanding hours to increase revenue.
However, he talked about Fernie’s Memorial Arena being old and failing to meet the needs to user groups. Although the facility is fully booked during winter when there is ice, it is barely used the rest of the year.
He also said the Centennial Community Centre and the Max Turyk school are not being used and had high operating costs.
Less suggested developing a multi purpose community centre at the Aquatic Centre site within the next seven years.
“This site is easily accessible, has a central location and ample parking,” he said. “Combining all the facilities at one site is also more efficient to operate, saving revenue and reducing the City’s carbon footprint.”
For funding, Lees suggested the City conduct a real estate appraisal of the current arena site, curling rink and Centennial Community Centre, which are in a prime real estate location on Highway 3.
Lees also talked about Fernie’s parks and said the majority of residents are well served by parkland, most being within a 10-minute walk from a park. 53 per cent of survey respondents rankled the City’s parks as maintained well. However many respondents asked for a fenced off leash dog park, and Lees suggested developing one in a portion of the Ridgemont Greenbelt. He also said that the Ridgemont playground needs an upgrade and that the development of a Whitewater park in the river should only be considered if there is adequate public support and funding partners.
“Perhaps consider an outdoor ice rink and upgraded pay equipment in the Ridgemont Park,” he said. “Also an Environmentally Sensitive Area Study within the City is recommended to ensure the expansion of recreation facilities and amenities does not impact environmentally sensitive areas.”
Finally, Lees talked about trails and connecting key areas downtown and the parks with trails. He also recommended that the RDEK and Fernie Alpine Resort work together to develop an off road trail connecting the ski hill with downtown.