Fernie council candidate Blaine Fabi says that he wants the town to re-capture some of the small-town feel from years past.
In an interview with The Free Press, Fabi, who is a first-time council candidate, reflected on growing up in Fernie and returning to it after years living abroad.
“When I was growing up it was very much a small community and residents of Fernie were taken care of. We felt a part of the community growing up here. Everyone had that sense of pride in Fernie.
“Coming back two years ago I was quite shocked to see how the local residents feel isolated and not taken care of anymore.
“They feel marginalised. It feels like in the last three, four, five years, Fernie has focused more on getting tourists into town than they have on looking after the people that actually live and run Fernie.”
Fabi works from home as a salesperson, and returned to Fernie after 14 years living in Australia with his wife and children. His family has century-long ties to Canada since his ancestors moved to Fernie from Italy over a hundred years ago.
Upon returning, Fabi said the lack of a small-town feel was enough to inspire him to try to move the needle in the right direction.
“Back in the old days Fernie was a coal mining town and we had a ski hill and that was great. I know it has changed, I know Fernie has changed, but the reality is people still live here, still work here, need to shop here.
“There has to be a way for people in Fernie to not pay tourist prices for everything.”
Fabi said that a potential conversation to have was finding ways for locals to not be priced out of everything.
“It would take a lot of work with the local businesses in town, but maybe we could look at having a local discount, or a points system… it would take a big buy-in from local stores, but it’s worth having a conversation on that.”
He said that he also believed more could be done to ensure residents of Fernie felt connected, and heard.
“The big thing for me is to listen to what the residents of Fernie are asking for and complaining about – both positive and negative – I just feel that right now there’s not that liaison between the citizens of Fernie and city hall … I’d like to bridge that gap.
“I know what Fernie used to be, and I know that Fernie can be that again. Right now it’s not what it can be. There’s a reason everyone came here, and I think a lot of people aren’t getting what they moved here for.”
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