A new design for some roads in Fernie. James Snell/The Free Press

“Killer of neighbourhoods” petition circulates

James Snell – reporter@thefreepress.ca

Several residents on 4th Avenue are circulating a petition to voice their complaints to the City of Fernie over a recent paving project, which is said to be a “killer of neighbourhoods.”

The residents are unhappy with a new road design that includes sections of gravel instead of blacktop.

The petition states that the gravel and paved driveway sections will be damaged by winter plowing and not hold up to Fernie weather. The new gravel sections are said to be unsightly, weed infested, and less safe. The petition asks the City to approve the fixing of the “oversight” and pave the roads from sidewalk to sidewalk. The residents want the City to have public input on street development projects. The new street design is said to be inferior. The list of complaints also includes: No more street hockey, no more basketball, biking dangers, baby stroller hazards, car crowding, skyrocketing maintenance costs, detracts from businesses, increased poison use for weed control, and street cleaning nightmares.

The petitioners argue that water problems could be fixed by a simple pave/grill system, which is used in other “well designed” cities.

Petition architect Patrick Burke is disappointed with the street design.

“They dug it up probably about a month ago,” he said. “And they paved and they left it. It’s almost four blocks. They didn’t give me a reason, really. We’ve lived there for 35 years…we’ve had problems when they haven’t cleared the drain in the winter time. I would like to know why they spent so much money on it.”

Burke added, “We have 95 per cent support. We are spreading out into other blocks. There’s been a lot of people who have approached me, and they want to take it city-wide. We’d like to know who designed it. Why did they do it in the first place?

The City of Fernie Director of Operations Zabrina Pendon said the City is aware of the petition.

“The road cross-section that was applied on the 4 Avenue road replacement project is consistent with the road cross-section applied on local residential road replacement projects in recent years. The gravel parking lanes serve multiple purposes including assisting with drainage by slowing water down before it gets to underground stormwater systems and improving water quality by trapping sediment and contaminants,” said Pendon.

“City crews are well-versed in maintaining this type of road cross-section and the surface material will not affect snow removal. The maintenance of this road will be consistent with our regular maintenance practices on all City roads, that includes seasonal weed management,” she continued.

“Council directed Staff to bring back a report regarding road improvement standards to a future meeting, and these concerns will be addressed in that report.”

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