The City of Fernie’s multi-year Annex Park construction project is finally finished.
An amphitheatre, a pavilion and an all-ages disability-friendly recreation area with a wooden playground have been added to the park, as well as an outdoor water drinking station for people and pets, and a non-motorized boat launch for kayaks and canoes.
“Annex Park was identified as the most valuable natural space in Fernie in the 2013 Leisure Services Master Plan,” city project manager Joanna Line wrote in an e-mail. “It’s a 13.5 hectare natural park … The amenities added to the park were designed in part by the advisory group to capture the wants and desires of the public.”
The Annex Park dike was raised to offer more protection against flooding and erosion. The pathway running over the dike was paved, and entry and exit points were added.
A portion of Fernie Valley Pathway, running 1.69km from McLeod Ave. to Mt. Fernie Park Rd., was completed in partnership with Fernie Trails Alliance. This is a major project that will see a network of paved and accessible trails built to connect Fernie to Fernie Alpine Resort. So far, 5km of the 7km trail project are finished.
“The design intent behind most of the features was to install infrastructure that is in harmony with the natural landscape of Annex Park,” Line wrote. “The all-ages play area is mostly built of natural cedar logs. The amphitheatre is a grass and natural stone stepped bowl, built into the side of the pathway bordering the Elk River. The boat launch is organically keyed into the rocky edge of the riverside. The upgraded dike is grassed.”
A public advisory group was consulted on the project in 2021 and construction started last year. The need for upgrades was informed by the 2013 Leisure Services Master Plan, which recommended improvements to the trails and the picnic area, as well as the addition of a nature play area, a non-motorized boat launch and a water station. It also drew advice from the 2019 Fernie Flood Mitigation Plan, which identified flood protection shortcomings and listed the dike as a second priority construction project, behind the Maiden Lake dike.
The city worked with consulting firm McElhanney and construction contractor Copcan to make improvements to the dike and build the trail network. BDI Play Designs built the recreation area and amphitheatre, and Tyee Log Homes built the pavilion.
The City of Fernie is unveiling the newly improved Annex Park at a celebration on Aug. 8. There will be a short presentation and ribbon cutting at the north end of the park at 2 p.m., near the corner of 12 Ave. and 16 St. Fernie Heritage Library will host a story time at the newly created amphitheatre at 3 p.m.