Fernie’s transportation and infrastructure issues

The lack of turning lanes in West Fernie and lack of transit in the City of Fernie itself were discussed at council.

Issues related to the City of Fernie’s transportation and infrastructure services were addressed in depth during the October 27 council meeting, including the lack of turning lanes in West Fernie and the lack of transit in the city.

These issues, along with several others, were brought up in response to an email invitation from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s (MOTI) Executive Project Manager Kirsten Pedersen, inviting Fernie city council to participate in a meeting with MOTI officials. The meeting will focus on British Columbia moving towards a 10-year transportation plan.

The letter noted that MOTI officials plan to travel to communities across the province in mid-October to discuss transportation priorities with local government, First Nations, transportation authorities and other community and business leaders. The MOTI also noted that they hope to meet with all local government by November 7.

Fernie council plans to address several transportation priorities during this meeting.

“The thing that I find often gets forgotten when we talk about transportation in the province is transit,” Coun. Randal Macnair noted. “Rurally, we often get forgotten about when it comes to transit. Seeing the impact that just a little bit of transit has made in our community, I think we need to take the next step.”

Macnair said that as driving becomes more expensive, residents need to be able to rely on transit within the Elk Valley, East Kootenay’s and South Country.

Mayor Mary Giuliano however noted that when transit was available in the South Country, it failed and because of this, it was cut off.

Giuliano also noted that a year ago, she petitioned for transit for seniors and people with disabilities within the community and received a response for a $40,000 per year transit proposal that she did not believe would be accepted by the city.

“I don’t think the City of Fernie should have to carry that entirely on their own,” Macnair responded, suggesting that the province play in role in supporting transit.

Coun. Phil Iddon also mentioned the lack of turning lanes in West Fernie.

“Turning left is an absolute gong show,” Iddon said of the West Fernie cut off.

Iddon noted that there is a high density of traffic going through that area and adding a left hand turning lane would contribute to the community’s public safety.

He also suggested furthering the construction of trails along the highway.

Aside from city engagement, all British Columbia residents are also being invited to share their ideas on future improvements in the transportation network. Public engagement opened online on Tuesday, October 14. British Columbian’s can submit feedback online until December 12 at 4 p.m. For more information, residents can visit http://engage.gov.bc.ca/transportationplan.