City of Fernie to consider electoral approval process for multi-purpose centre

Petition calling for referendum on multi-purpose community centre attracts nearly 500 signatures

The site concept for the multi-purpose centre proposed for Fernie. Source: City of Fernie

Fernie council has agreed to consider the electoral approval process for borrowing funds for the Multi Purpose Community Centre Project.

This comes after a petition circulating in Fernie received approximately 400 signatures by mid-April and about 85 online.

Spearheaded by Fernie man David Gildea, the petition requests that the City identify all costs involved in building the proposed community/recreation centre and all grants received for the project.

LOOK BACK: City of Fernie to investigate new multi-purpose community centre

The petition also requests information regarding cost per household, in terms of taxes, and that the project go to a Fernie-wide referendum before proceeding with any construction.

Fernie council became aware of this petition, which was brought forward by Mayor Ange Qualizza as a notice of motion for council at the April 23 meeting.

“There’s a lot of conversation in the community about a perception that we have predetermined which methodology of approval we will be seeking from the electorals,” she said.

“That’s not the case, we’ve not decided at all which method we would be working towards. What happened was we received an information in opportunity and we voted to support both the borrowing, and the application for that opportunity. And we discussed the idea that we would, at a much later date, conclude how we would meet the electoral approval.”

LOOK BACK: City of Fernie pitches $80m multi-purpose community centre

Qualizza explained that because the project is taking up a lot of ‘air space’ in the community, she believed they should vote to support staff to bring forward a report to consider a decision regarding the preferred electoral approval process for borrowing funds for the May 13 regular council meeting.

Councillor Kevin McIsaac asked whether they would have enough information by this date.

Corporate Officer Suzanne Garand explained that the report would discuss the process by which council would decide on the methodology of electoral approval they would seek if one of the City’s two grant applications were successful.

LOOK BACK: Fernie residents to have final say on $72.5m multi-use centre

Councillor Phil Iddon said that there are still many unknowns pertaining to the project and that he wasn’t comfortable voting on the bylaw yet.

Qualizza acknowledged all points as good, and clarified that her reason for bringing the report forward was to show the community how they will be seeking electoral approval for the project. This, she said, is very important.

“What I would like to demonstrate to the community is that we are going to choose option A or option B and then the community hopefully can move into evaluating the project, and not talk about the methodology of how we’re going to seek electoral process,” she said.

All were in favour of bringing forward the report except for Iddon, who was opposed.

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