The City of Fernie has approved the proposed bylaw changes requested by Matrix Planning to subdivide the 40 acre parcel of land behind the Chamber of Commerce near 95 Brickers Road. Matrix Planning proposed the changes to the Official Community Plan (OCP), rezoning approximately 16 acres from Rural Residential to a mixture of R1- single family residential, R3 – medium residential and R4-multiple family residential (high density).
The parcel of land in total is 40 acres; however, due to several steep embankments, the Matrix redesigned their proposal for the City excluding development on the steep sections of slope.
Council held a public hearing during the March 10 regular council meeting. Residents of Brickers Road wrote letters opposing the development listing the development being out of character for the rural area, a decrease in the value of their property, concerns of slope stability, drainage, road access and the R3 designation.
Council received four letters and heard four submissions from the floor, including several Brickers Road residents. Cathy Smith Clark wrote a letter and spoke to council saying R3 rezoning would allow a two story or 37 foot building adjacent to her property line, effectively blocking her view of the Lizard Range that she’s been able to enjoy for 30 years. She said more importantly the is a quiet road and a quiet neighbourhood would be destroyed with the noise of all the people and the building. She asked Council to “please take our feelings into consideration.”
Florence Philips, an 80 year-old Fernie resident spoke about the area around Brickers Road being a wildlife corridor. “The land around Fernie is precious. There is a definite wildlife corridor around Brickers area. There has been so many wildlife killed. Once the houses are built the land is destroyed,” said Phillips. “I think it’s about time we take care of our wild country.”
Phillip Dack from Matrix Planning said they are going to realign Brickers road as required by Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
They are not going to build on the steep unstable slopes. The size of the development plan by Matrix has reduced its housing capacity since its 2010 plan from 446 potential residents down to 350 people. In over eight years of planning Matrix has worked with three environmental companies. The area was identified as the home of the blue listed Rocky Mountain Capshell snail species. This snail prefers an alpine ecosystem for habitat rather than an aquatic environment.
Councillor Joni Krats said, “[Snails] may be small but they are part of an ecosystem and I’m not sure of the further impact of changing that habitat. It could be quite larger than just small animals like snails.”
The Ministry of Environment does know about the blue listed species but has not provided any instructions for Matrix at this time.
Phillip Dack, planner for Matrix spoke to some of the concerns. “A couple years ago we made a commitment to pick snails up and move them across the highway if need be but the Ministry did not know where they would move them to. As for drainage it will be an urban quality subdivision with storm sewers, water and paved roads, the same quality of storm water management as with any other new subdivision.
“The OCP did not identify it as a wild life corridor (Fairy Creek was identified). Wildlife corridors as legislated by the City do not impact their property. It will be a very porous development, the majority will be single family so animals and birds can filter through. [R-3 zoning] is part of a community, you want a variety of housing and a variety of costs.”
Included in the City of Fernie Planner Bruce Lennox’s report to Council, “The City of Fernie Engineering Department noted that the proposed trail alignment from the Chamber of Commerce building to Fairy Creek falls should be included in a linear park corridor at the time of subdivision. The engineering department also noted that water pressure/fire flows and connection points for sewage collection will be determined during the subdivision approval process. The City of Fernie fire and emergency services department and the building official recommended that Fire Smart community planning principles be addressed during the development of the lands to address wildfire interface concerns.”
Councillors Randal Macnair and Joni Krats opposed all four motions to carry the third reading and adoption by Council. Council then carried a motion made by MacNair to amend Bylaw No. 154 Bylaw 2229, limiting further subdivision of Parcel 1 unless the following conditions are met.
“That Bylaw No. 2229, cited as Zoning Bylaw No. 1750, Amendment Bylaw No. 154, 2013 be withheld from adoption pending registration on-title of a Section 219 Covenant in favour of the City of Fernie, in priority to any financial charges, requiring that no subdivision of the subject Parcel 1 (the lands) shall be applied for by the landowner and no subdivision of the lands shall be approved by the Approving Officer of the City of Fernie unless a proposed subdivision plan dedicates or otherwise makes available land for linear park use within the lands for a trail connection to the Fairy Creek Trail; assurance from a Contaminated Sites Approved Professional (CSAP) confirming that the lands can safely be used for residential purposes; and a road right-of-way for a regional collector through the lands to the proposed development that exists to the west of the lands, which proposed development is known as Alpine Trails Area 6.”
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has also put a cap on the allowable development amount due to a traffic impact assessment. Their interests lie at the intersection of Brickers and Dickens Road with access to Highway 3.