Ground breaks on West Fernie upgrading project

After nine years of work on the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure upgrade project, ground was broken and construction began this week.

Above: the proposed development process for the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure Upgrades project. Development started this week on Mill Avenue. Dawson Contructions

After nine years of work on the West Fernie Servicing and Restructure upgrade project, ground was broken and construction began this week. The project is to upgrade the water system in West Fernie, which was constructed in 1955. The project will provide sewer, storm water services and road upgrades to West Fernie. After the project is complete, West Fernie is set to become a part of the City of Fernie, and will no longer be under the jurisdiction of the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK).

Last week, the RDEK held two open house sessions at the Park Place Lodge, informing the public of their plans on the upgrade.

The project has been broken down into phases and is prioritizing areas that are more prone to flooding. Because of this, the project is set to start with Mill Street and Wilson Street then moving to McLeod Ave. and McDonald Ave. after. At the open house, engineer Don Nash of Kerr Wood Leidal identified areas in the flood plain as the biggest challenge due to the ground water.

Dawson Construction, a Kamloops-based business, was awarded the contract, beating out 10 other contractors for the bid. The company is in their 94th year of operation and has worked on projects across British Columbia, including projects in Canal Flats and the Kicking Horse Canyon.

A representative from Dawson Construction, Brandon Hrycun, attended the open house to answer specific questions regarding the upgrades and how it would affect their properties. Hrycun is the project manager and says he will work to be approachable for specific questions throughout the entire upgrading process.

“It’s not going to be pretty, but that means it will be worth it,” he said.

Crews are set to work six days a week, Monday through Saturday, starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m. Hrycun says there is the potential for some work on Sundays. He also says he will try to provide houses with enough warning if their water is set to be turned off during the upgrades.

Residences will be able to connect to the city’s storm and sewer line once that phase of the project is complete. The RDEK is working with Interior Health to educate people on the proper methods to fill old septic tanks. Director of RDEK Electoral A (Elk Valley) Mike Sosnowski says most septic tanks can be left in the ground if they are filled with sand to minimize potential dangers.

The official ground breaking ceremony is set for Apr. 8 afternoon at 4 p.m., and Kootenay-East MLA Bill Bennett, along with local politicians, will be in attendance to celebrate the start of the project.

For more information on the upgrade and projected work schedule, visit