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Fernie election reader questions: On expanding the city’s borders

The Free Press asked all 16 candidates for Fernie city council a reader question about where they stood on annexing neighbouring built-up areas
Composite of all candidates for Fernie City Council at the 2022 municipal elections: Ange Qualizza, Nic Milligan, Jesse Mould, Kyle Hamilton, Troy Nixon, Ted Shoesmith, Patrick Burke, Zuzana Simpson, Blaine Fabi, April Montague, Spencer Gough, Jonathan MacGregor, Tracey Audia Kelly, Kevin McIsaac, Harshan Ramadass, Bob Langfield. (Images of Qualizza, Fabi and Montague contributed, remainder are BPM file)

In the lead up to the October 15 municipal elections, The Free Press will be passing along reader-generated questions to the 16 candidates for public office at the City of Fernie.

On Thursday last week, we posed this question from a reader:

  • “Where do the candidates stand on expanding City of Fernie borders to include neighbouring built-up areas, like Dicken Rd, Anderson Rd, Ski hill?”

Candidates were asked to answer the question in 100 words or less as if they were at an all-candidate forum.

Only candidates who responded by deadline (September 26, 12 noon) are included. Here are their responses verbatim, in no particular order:

Patrick Burke (council candidate)

The first information I would need to know is what is the servicing costs to areas like Dicken Rd., Anderson Rd. & Ski Hill. I would not wish to burden the tax payers of Fernie with a large bill to service these areas and feel any expansion costs would have to be covered by grants and taxes from the new areas.

Harshan Ramadass (council candidate)

We have to ask ourselves : what problem will we solve if we expand? I admit, annexation of those areas helps ensure consistency with OCP. During Galloway hearings it was evident RDEK directors were lackadaisical in upholding the interest of Fernie majority. I played a tiny role in opposing the development myself, lack of competition in RDEK elections is an issue. However more areas mean more future expenditures for the city, additional revenues notwithstanding. My focus: do a great job addressing challenges in the existing boundary before expanding, while ensuring our mayor keeps pressure on RDEK to represent Fernie’s interests/OCP compliance.

Nic Milligan (mayor candidate)

Before we consider expanding our existing boundaries, Fernie needs to use the land currently available to us wisely, creatively, and to greatest effect for all our needs. Expansion beyond current city boundaries requires a strong relationship between the city, the Regional District, and RDEK residents. Potential expansion would need to consider the possible benefits and impacts to Area A and Fernie residents alike. As with most things, robust partnerships and ongoing dialogue about the best uses of the region’s land resource will play an important role in the future of both Fernie and surrounding communities.

April Montague (council candidate)

This would not be ideal at this time. The cost to taxpayers would be huge- sewer, snow removal, water, road repair. And I am hearing from people that they have other immediate priorities. Long term planning for our city should focus on densification and upgrading existing infrastructure rather than sprawl.

Kevin McIsaac (incumbent council candidate)

Since my first election in 2008, I have been an advocate for boundary expansion. Expanding from Dicken Rd to the Ski Hill would stop the leapfrog development we’re experiencing, bring those areas into our OCP for consistent planning, increase much-needed commercial and industrial space, and allow us to protect rural areas by focusing development on the areas where it makes more sense.

Ange Qualizza (incumbent mayor candidate)

Boundary expansion will be critical going forward, we need to follow the Urban Expansion Schedule D that already exists and increase our supply of light industrial and service commercial property, a great way to keep driving investment to Fernie and attracting commercial taxpayers.

Fernie Alpine Resort is part of our Long-Term Boundary Expansion study area, and that is why it is critical we coordinate planning efforts with the RDEK to ensure that future growth and development is built to a standard (not rural) that will be financially sustainable to our taxpayers when we expand our borders.

Bob Langfield (council candidate)

Council has the duty to consider the interests of the city as a whole. While expanding the borders may appear viable to provide additional land for future development, the cost to provide or improve services to meet current City of Fernie standard would likely significantly exceed additional revenue from taxes. This could impose an unacceptable financial burden on the community for the foreseeable future. Substantial research, community input, staff and council resources would be required in the planning process. The disadvantages of any proposed annexation may significantly outweigh the advantages to the affected communities.

Troy Nixon (incumbent council candidate)

Boundary expansion is the future. Having control over future development is key to smart planning and providing sustainable services. Multiple official community plans impedes and confuses future development. This should be a long term goal for future councils.

Do you have a question you want to hear from all candidates on? Email your question to, and we will endeavor to reach out to all candidates on your behalf.
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