Some of the signage installed on 1st Avenue in Fernie following the creation of the Station Square Park on 6th Street. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Some of the signage installed on 1st Avenue in Fernie following the creation of the Station Square Park on 6th Street. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie’s Station Square Park ‘not working’ according to council

Councillors decided to give the park another 30 days of life on the proviso more was added to make it appealing

Fernie councillors have chosen to stay the possible execution of the much-maligned (by them and apparently most of everybody else) Station Square Park in downtown Fernie, which according to all councillors wasn’t working as intended.

During the June 28 council meeting in discussion on amendments to the mobile vendor bylaw, Mayor Ange Qualizza said concerns raised by a vendor business were difficult to separate from broader concerns around the roll-out of the pop-up city park which was installed on 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue.

Qualizza said it was “probably one of the most poorly implemented things I’ve ever seen,” noting the relative lacklustre makeup of the park being tables and a blocked road, a lack of consultation with stakeholders and less than anticipated use of the space.

“It didn’t work, it doesn’t work, it’s not working,” she said.

Installing the park required municipal workers to block off 6th Street, and errect signage at the 1st Ave – 5th Street intersection indicating 1st was now a no through road – signage 1st Avenue businesses reportedly took issue with.

Councillor Yvonne Prest floated the idea of temporarily removing the park entirely in order to give staff time to plan something more park-like and appease mobile vendors and nearby businesses in the interim, describing it as little more than “three tables in the middle of a road.”

The majority of councillors wanted to give it more time however, with Kyle Hamilton, Troy Nixon, Kevin McIsaac and Phil expressing a preference to give it more time.

“I’d be very disappointed it we pulled the pin after only a month,” said Hamilton, who added he wanted more engagement from the community on what was needed to make the park more appealing.

Nixon said that since the park was installed, he had seen people using it and feedback to him was good, saying he wouldn’t be up for canning it without trying more amenities in the space.

As a result, city council opted to give the park at least another 30 days of life, with the expectation that more tables, shade and park-like features be added while the city looked for more grant opportunities to further enhance the space, and that any future of the park not block access to the alleyway in order to support local business.

Currently the park houses three tables, some bike racks, and a moose art installation. It was installed towards the end of May in order to provide more outdoor dining options when Provincial Health Orders banned indoor dining.

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