The most public faces of the City of Fernie are gearing up to take on questions from the public about the ongoing snow removal pilot program being trialled in the city.
Fernie’s Mayor Ange Qualizza, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Michael Boronowski and city staff will be taking questions in a live QandA on Tuesday evening (Jan. 12) online in an apparent response to ongoing concerns from the community.
Community Facebook groups have been rife with criticism of the pilot snow removal program, which was initiated in early 2020 as a trial to revamp the city’s removal processes, with residents raising issues about the the creation of windrows, timing of plowing taking place, reductions in services in certain areas and the dumping of snow in businesses car parks.
“We will be taking your questions live through the comments section of our City of Fernie Facebook page,” said the city in a release.
“We invite you to share your questions about the pilot project, the feedback we’ve gotten, what’s working and what isn’t and what we’re changing as a result, what you can expect, and how you can continue to provide your feedback.”
Qualizza had previously taken to Facebook to defend the program, taking aim at the critical comments and behaviour being directed at city staff and seeking to debunk rumours being spread about the program, and last week she said to The Free Press that the program was necessary as the old policy had devolved into a complaint-based service with inconsistent and unreliable levels of service and outcomes.
Mayor of the neighbouring District of Sparwood, David Wilks also chipped in on Facebook, saying that he stood with Qualizza’s rebuttal of online attacks in the face of snow events.
“Within the District of Sparwood on December 22nd our public works people (10 people) worked all day starting at 6am and continued to work non stop until approximately 9pm when they completed clearing every road in Sparwood. We had 2 1/2 feet of snow within a very short period of time,” he said.
“We had countless people calling public works complaining. Many more on social media complaining.
“Mayor and Council are exceptionally proud of our Public Works Department who do their very best to ensure Sparwood is very well kept.”
With a post on the same day as Mayors Qualizza and Wilks, the District of Elkford appeared to take a front foot, directing any complaints or “beef” – as it said online – towards the necessary city staff through a Facebook post.
Meanwhile, the City of Cranbrook was posting similar releases at around the same time, thanking residents “for their patience and understanding” following the snow dump of previous days.
The City of Fernie has repeatedly directed residents to submit questions and concerns via its letstalk.fernie.ca website, with Qualizza previously quipping during a regular council meeting that it was a far superior avenue to provide feedback than Facebook.
The City of Fernie’s QandA will be held online on the City of Fernie’s Facebook page beginning at 6pm on Tuesday.
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