Have a voice in the future of Fernie

The City of Fernie is revamping the Leisure Services Master Plan and it needs the help of Fernie residents.

The City of Fernie is revamping the Leisure Services Master Plan and it needs the help of Fernie residents.

The plan was last updated in 2004 and it guides the City’s decision making when it comes to recreational programs, services and facilities. Leisure services covers everything from the community centre, arena, and pool, to parks, playgrounds, and community trails.

The update process relies heavily on community input and will include public open houses, as well as interviews with key users of Fernie’s parks and facilities. The hope is that the revised plan will reflect the values and needs of the community, and provide the City with direction for managing and developing Fernie’s leisure services over the next 10 years.

“We want an opportunity to engage residents to tell us what they desire as far as programs and services and facilities go,” said Cam Mertz, Director of Leisure Services. “Based on the engagement that we have from them, it will allow us to start putting the pieces in place to evolve our programs, build new facilities, or make decisions about current facilities.”

The City has hired LEES and Associates, a landscape planning and design firm, to guide the development of the Master Plan. Currently gathering information and assessing the needs of the community, the company will be in Fernie on February 26 to meet with key community groups and organizations. They will then host a facilitated open house on February 27 to give residents the chance to have their voices heard.

“That’s an opportunity for citizens to drop in and share their knowledge, or their desires and expectations, with the consultants,” remarked Mertz. “The public consultation part is mega important because I don’t want this document to sit on a shelf. I want it to be meaningful, I want it to have realistic expectations, so we can actually use it.”

LEES and Associates will take the feedback they receive at the open house, along with background information provided by the City, and bring back their initial recommendations at a second open house in the spring. A final document is expected to be presented to council by the end of June.

The revised plan will clearly outline what, when, where, and how recreation facilities and services will be implemented, constructed, financed, and maintained. Mertz commented, “The plan might change, this is a living document, but at least we can communicate outwardly to the community, that this is what the City is planning.”

He went on to say, “The overall goal is to get some direction. If we do our consultation properly and really get what the people want, then we can put that into a plan. We get what the people desire, we get council to endorse that as the direction we want to go in, and then we get a plan that can work in that direction.”

Fernie residents are invited to share their ideas at the open house on Wednesday, February 27 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Seniors Drop In Centre. The City has also set up an online survey that can be accessed at www.fernie.ca.