The Fernie Museum hosted a public open house on Monday, February 17, to publicly present the Fernie Heritage Strategy (FHS) prior to its announcement to council on February 18. The strategy was presented by Ron Ulrich, chair of the Fernie Heritage Strategy, and Elana Zysblat, the project’s lead consultant.
Fernie’s Heritage Strategy is a program developed by Heritage Fernie, along with its partners the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the City of Fernie, and the FHS Task Force. The strategy is set in place to guide the City of Fernie in making decisions that maintain Fernie’s heritage values as they set forth with community planning. Diving deep into Fernie’s heritage, the strategy focuses on the economic growth, regeneration and resilience of Fernie, with special attention to the importance of this land to the Ktunaxa First Nation.
“The Fernie Heritage Strategy outlines heritage goals, policies and actions for managing change and development in Fernie,” the Heritage Strategy outlined. “The overall goals of this strategy are to sustain this awareness, encourage new and continued engagement, and provide a valuable toolkit for the city to make informed decisions on the redevelopment, protection and conservation of Fernie’s heritage assets.”
This year’s strategy is divided into three parts. The first is a contextual understanding of Fernie’s history. The second is a review of the valued aspects of the city and its history, derived from experts and citizens. The last section is the conglomeration of this information into actions and policies that consider the unique qualities of Fernie, ensuring matters pertaining to heritage remain at the forefront of civic planning. When combining all aspects, the purpose of this strategy is to add to the growth, regeneration and resilience of Fernie while acknowledging the importance of its heritage.
“Fernie’s heritage is the bedrock of our community and it is ever evolving. Historic places define who we are and attract thousands of tourists annually. Heritage buildings provide some of our city’s most affordable housing and are popular places to live, work and play. Their reuse and rehabilitation diverts tons of debris from the landfill,” says Ulrich. “Heritage Fernie’s work focuses on grounded, practical and community based strategies and programs which help safeguard, sustain and steward all that is great and unique in Fernie, historically, here and now, and into the future.”
Before outlining this strategy, Heritage Fernie gathered community opinion through an online survey, open houses, a heritage values workshop, focus groups, and ground neighbourhood walks. They also gathered information through projects such as the redevelopment of the Leroux mansion, the Heritage Revitalization Agreement, and conservation projects funded by the Columbia Basin Trust. Using that input, Heritage Fernie ensured the strategy reflected the public’s concerns and values.
“Heritage conservation in Fernie will help us celebrate our past, value the present and build a sustainable future. It will be a vehicle for building meaningful relationships with the Ktunaxa and to identify and recognize valued Ktunaxa heritage resources,” said Ulrich.
For more information on the Heritage Strategy, go to Heritagefernie.com or visit the Fernie Museum.