By Ezra Black
After hearing a presentation from Beautification Committee chair Jeremiah Pauw, council has agreed to create a taskforce to spearhead the redevelopment of downtown Fernie’s Station Square.
Pauw said a revitalized square would be good for local businesses and would keep the community competitive among resort municipalities.
“Many other towns that are very similar to Fernie in both economy and size have town squares and social spaces for their residents to enjoy,” Pauw told council at a Jan. 23 meeting. “Revelstoke has Grizzly Plaza, Golden has Spirit Square, Tofino has Park Village, Invermere has Kinsman Park and Nelson is doing a whole revitalization of their downtown which includes a large square.”
He suggested the taskforce should be made up of representatives from the city, Beautification Committee, Arts Station, Fernie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Fernie.
“Fernie has a lot of volunteers ready to help and right now it’s about getting the stakeholders in the room to talk about it,” he said. “I’m sure the Beautification Committee would be willing to take the lead, call some meetings and do some leg work. But we need this council’s blessing to do so.”
He said the revitalized square could include infrastructure to host concerts and markets, public art and green space.
“It would beautify our downtown core and provide a much-needed venue for our many events and festivals that take place here each year,” he said.
Pauw noted that council has already taken steps to beautify Station Square with the installation of public washrooms and the rebuilding of the Arts Station’s deck. He said there was still lots of work to be done and suggested a taskforce would make sure it proceeded smoothly.
CAO Norm McInnis noted that the project could receive Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI) funding, which is intended to assist small, tourism-based communities.
Fernie Chamber of Commerce executive director Patty Vadnais said she supports the redevelopment of Station Square.
“Anything that can draw traffic into that downtown core is a benefit to downtown businesses,” she said.