Candidates for public office have some light reading ahead, with the Fernie Chamber of Commerce formally releasing its municipal election platform, laying out what the town’s business community would like from the next mayor and council.
The document includes some meaty items for policymakers to mull over, ranging from asking for courage in pushing back on NIMBY-ism to tackle housing, to stating clear opposition to the city’s preferred fire hall location on 2nd Ave.
Put together by the chamber’s advocacy committee and informed by feedback from Fernie businesses, the platform lays out 18 positions or ‘asks’ of all election candidates running for office.
Divided into four categories, the platform broadly asks for more engagement from the city with businesses and the community, a focus on addressing housing attainability, efforts to make Fernie more livable, sustainable and including, and asks the city to “make it easy to do business in Fernie.”
Under the first category – engagement – the chamber asks for more communication from the city and opportunities to engage directly, and requests another look at the Official Community Plan (OCP), with an eye to re-do it entirely to ensure community buy-in.
Also under engagement, the chamber said it wants communication from the city to be ongoing, rather than project-based, like ‘Let’s Talk Fernie’, the city’s current preferred method of online feedback.
“Aim to engage people where they are online, with a commitment to more open houses and non-internet-based engagement opportunities.”
Under housing attainability, the chamber requests changes to policy, processes and staffing levels to keep up with building activity (and interest in development) within Fernie, and asks for “significant consultation with local builders and developers.”
The platform asks the city to have courage when faced with housing permit applications.
“Approve multifamily developments and secondary suites as a means of increasing density and housing supply, even in the face of NIMBY-ism.”
The livability and sustainability portion is wide-ranging, going from infrastructure, to transportation, to policy review, and finally to the development of a new fire hall.
Notably, the chamber revealed it doesn’t support the city’s current trajectory on the fire hall development, saying that the 902 2nd Ave lot, which is the city’s preferred location, is not appropriate given the lots importance to the downtown core, and it’s prime location as commercially develop-able land.
“Engage with local developers and appropriate landowners to find a suitable location along the highway that would enable both a quicker response time to emergency highway callouts and an expansion of Fernie’s historic downtown.”
The final item is mostly business focused, but one ask is for the city to make it easy to do business by creating a new position with the city to act as a first point of contact for businesses and developers trying to work with the City of Fernie.
The full list of asks can be found on the Fernie Chamber of Commerce website, and has been shared with all election candidates.
The chamber on non-partisan, and will not be endorsing any candidates for office. It will be hosting the all-candidate forum in Fernie on October 4.
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