New development could be coming to Fernie

A new subdivision is in the works for a rural property northeast of Fernie.

A new subdivision is in the works for a rural property northeast of Fernie.

The land in question is located roughly three kilometers north of the City of Fernie boundary in the Dicken Road area, northwest of Kmiecik Road.

At a meeting held on January 7, council gave their support to rezone the just over 56 acre lot to allow for the subdivision of 37 strata lots, one residential acreage, and a proposed vacant remainder lot.

This is not the first time development has been planned for the area. A proposal for a 55 lot subdivision was brought to the City and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) in 2011, and subsequently turned down. After the Fernie Council serving at the time chose not to support it, the RDEK board of directors voted to put a halt to the development.

This time around, with a new mayor and council and Fernie’s housing options appearing limited, the subdivision may come to fruition.

“I know looking around the area there is not a lot of available housing that’s going to hit the market here in the next two or three years,” said Councillor Phil Iddon. “There is a couple developments that are creeping forward, but some of them are a long ways off. I don’t know what the time frame is for this development, but I’d like to speak in favour of it, and hopefully we get a good product out of it.”

City of Fernie staff have several concerns with the potential subdivision: the proposed rezoning conflicts with the Fernie Area Land Use Strategy, there are potential water and sewer system issues, and there is only single road access to the area.

“I support the staff recommendation to oppose this,” stated Councillor Randall Macnair. “It’s really inconsistent with the direction that our community as a whole has been going in for many years. It’s really forming a wedge as far as creating urban sprawl on the outskirts of our community.

“It’s poor planning, I don’t think it’s necessary, and I don’t think it’s going to be a net benefit to our community.”

Councillor Willard Ripley countered, “I don’t really buy into the idea that it’s urban sprawl or that it’s detrimental to the community in any way.

He went on to say, “I definitely support the idea that there’s more housing and that anything on the market like that will create business and vitality in the community. I’d like to see it go ahead.”

Despite staff’s recommendation and differing opinions from councillors, Fernie Council voted to advise the RDEK that they are in favour of the change. The decision was not unanimous, with Councillor Macnair voting in opposition.