Fernie Snowmobile Association looking to expand at Coal Creek

More family orientated events, combined with a new cabin have resulted in large crowds and parking pressure.

The Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA) President Bob Arnott made a presentation to Fernie Council asking for permission to increase parking at Coal Creek and a site for a snow cat building.

The FSA has been established for 30 years and they have noted snowmobiling numbers are still strong, even in a low snow year. As of February 4, FSA had 554 trail passes collected from the Coal Creek staging area, matching last year’s numbers. FSA members travel as often as they want with no trail fees.

Passes collected have risen from 1,056 in 2010/11 to 1,771 in 2012/13. However the FSA estimates the numbers for the 2012/13 season were actually 2,900 as they did not collect trail passes when the groomer was down and during family events.

This increasing trend in popularity has caused some growing pains when it comes to parking at the staging area. There simply isn’t enough room for all the trucks and trailers on busy days.

The FSA presentation explained, “We are having more family orientated events, combined with a new cabin resulting in large crowds and thus parking pressure. Some events have seen vehicles parking back into town.”

Arnott explained to Council that with their permission, the FSA has a process to widen the road while the snow is still in place to be ready for the 2014/15 season.

The second part of the FSA’s request included a space to place a winter storage shed for the groomer in the Coal Creek area. Currently the groomers are transported through Fernie three times a week at night to groom the trails at a great expense for members in time and fuel. The FSA requested permission from the City to lease land alongside the landfill.

On June 26, 2013 the FSA presented to Council the option of making use of level ground on the southeast reclaimed portion of the former landfill, but that was subsequently ruled out.

“Right now they are moving that groomer three times a week, trailering and un-trailering it,” said Councillor McSkimming. “I’ve heard this conversation before so I would like staff to take a look at the piece of land.”  With the majority in agreement, Council directed staff to look at the land in the old landfill area to potentially create a lease for the FSA to store their snowcat and address their parking issues.