The past few months have been busy for Mayor and council. Over the summer, two bylaw students were hired to assist with citing infractions with dogs, parking etc. Council decisions included; the addition of bear proof bins at several facilities, repainting the arena and Community Centre, road resurfacing, the replacement of the Arts Station deck, and the construction of new washrooms to be completed by year-end.
September saw strategic planning to determine priorities and the hiring of a new Chief Administrative Officer (CAO). As well, mayor and council attended the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) conference in Victoria, which Mayor Giuliano described as “a great way to learn about others in our province.”
As a part of the UBCM, a meeting of the Highway 3 coalition of mayors and the Resort Municipality Initiative (continuing through 2017) were held. The Highway 3 subcommittee was advised that Destination B.C. would provide assistance with the infrastructure, investment, policy and experience-development side of the planning and also noted that grant applications earmarked for marketing and branding had been successful through Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) and Southern Interior Development Initiative Trust (SIDIT).
During the week-long conference, Mayor Giuliano and Councillor McSkimming attended the Municipal Insurance Association AGM. A meeting with BC Assessment, attended by the mayor, Councillor Warshawsky and interim CAO Don Schaffer, to discuss the effects of increased assessments in Fernie proved fruitless, as BC Assessment stood firm on their numbers. Meetings and discussions also took place regarding Lizard Creek bridge replacement, which is on track, as well as the audit report on Human Resources, which is forthcoming. Other issues discussed included health delivery, Municipal and Regional District tax as well as the tax-saving measure of switching to LED lighting, an initiative brought forward by Councillors McSkimming and Iddon.
According to Mayor Giuliano, one of the highlights of the week was a presentation by a First Nations delegate who shared her experience of being educated in a residential school and the effect of this on subsequent generations.
Councillor Lois Halko of Sparwood was part of a panel during the conference and described how Sparwood has been working to create a carbon neutral reserve fund to provide a subsidy for energy assessments repaid from building fees.
In October, through a grant provided by Columbia power, the City hosted a luncheon to recognize Fernie’s many volunteers. On October 12, Mayor Giuliano attended the Small Business Workshop, organized by MP Wayne Stetski, during which concerns were raised regarding the lack of; downtown business space, workers, information on how to start a small business and affordable housing. Attacks on big coal companies and confusion over PST were also discussed.