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Fernie councillors give thumbs-up to $7 million project backed mostly by grants

The project consists of Annex Dike improvements, park additions, anotyer segment of the Fernie Valley Pathway and more
A map of proposed “wellness stations” to be added to Fernie’s Annex Park as part of an amalgamated project that includes Annex Dike improvements to protect the community from flooding. (Image courtesy of City of Fernie)

City of Fernie councillors have voted to endorse the (near) final plans for a $7 million-plus project that spans the Annex Dike renewal and Annex Park works, the Fernie Valley Pathway and active transportation plans.

The project, which is three major projects combined into one, is 96 percent supported by provincial and federal grants, with the City of Fernie responsible for only $263,850 of the $7,094,000 project.

At the Apr. 11 council meeting councillors voted to approve plans for the project as presented by staff, with a shortlist of three contractors to receive tender call documents for the project construction and completion before the end of 2022.

The primary focus of changes to the Annex Dike is raising it to ensure that the Annex neighbourhood is better protected from ‘1 in 500 year’ flood events. This work constitutes the largest portion of funding required

As part of that project, park enhancements are being added to ‘animate’ the park with ‘Wellness stations’ with four major focuses – being physical, mental, emotional and family.

Stations as described by staff are a small labyrinth / yoga zone for emotional health, an outdoor classroom / parkour area for family health, a fitness trail for physical health, and an inter-generational play area with things like benches, tables, outdoor chess, log climbing structures and more for mental health.

The ‘wellness station’ ideas were work-shopped through a community advisory group with city input. Annex Park enhancements also include the paving of the dike trail and planting more trees.

Another project folded into this larger one was further additions to the Fernie Valley Pathway, which will eventually link Fernie to the Fernie Alpine Resort along Hwy. 3 with a multi-use trail that keeps foot and cycling traffic away from the road. The segment included in this funding stretches from McLeod Ave. in West Fernie to Mt Fernie Rd, on the west side of the highway, passing in front of West Fernie businesses, adding a small bridge over the creek next to Anderson Rd and eventually linking to Mt Fernie Rd, where the plans envisage a new rest area and way finding station for users. Currently, those accessing the Fernie Provincial Park use Anderson Rd.

The City of Fernie’s overall ‘Active Transportation’ plans slot into this project, which will improve trail access along the dike, with trails in the Annex being linked to the Fernie Valley Pathway project, allowing commuters to get further into and out of town without going on major roads.

The overall project, which has a price-tag of $7,094,000 has gone to tender to three shortlisted contractors, and the entire project has a construction schedule through to late 2022 according to city staff.

Staff also presented an annual maintenance budget attached to the overall project, with yearly expenses for maintenance and upkeep of the trails and wellness stations (along with additional items like winter grooming funds and long-term replacement costs) adding up to $62,500 – something councillor Kevin McIsaac said he was “thrilled” by.

“I look forward to having this for every single asset that we invest in in the future – full disclosure for the community on what ongoing costs will be, not just for today.”

Councillors voted unanimously to endorse the plans.

READ MORE: Fernie’s new skate park plans backed by $1.28 million in grants
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