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No sani dump on the horizon for Fernie

Works to establish a temporary replacement have been set back by cost overruns
The sani dump in Fernie has been decommissioned, with no temporary location coming (yet) due to project cost overruns. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie will be without a municipal sani-dump for a while yet, with the city’s plans for a temporary location set back by budget overruns.

The city had identified a lot owned by the city on 13th St near the public works yard as a suitable temporary location.

According to the city’s Chief Administrative Officer Michael Boronowski, the temporary sani-dump work was bundled together with a larger grant-funded parking lot paving project which came back from tender “far over budget”, prompting the city to re-tender it as a separate project.

He added that the city had no timeline for the project to be approved and works to commence, let alone have a sani-dump open in Fernie.

“We have unfortunately missed the mark in terms of timeline,” he said, adding that cost overruns was a trend across sectors requiring projects be re-thought.

The city’s existing sani-dump has been decommissioned, and has not been open since the end of the camping season in 2021. The car park where it was located at the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) is being re-done as part of a renewal project that required the sani-dump be completely removed.

That car-park project at the VIC, which was given the green light back at the start of 2022 with the city awarding a $160K contract, is ongoing.

The timeline of the sani-dump closure and replacement has been an issue for locals: The previous location was closed at the end of last season, while news of its closure being permanent broke at the start of 2022. The city said that a temporary replacement was in the works in March, and Boronowski said in April that any further updates were “weeks away”.

In the July 11 City of Fernie council meeting, councillor Phil Iddon expressed disappointment in the lack of progress, saying that he had been approached many times by residents unhappy with the situation.

“The word that was brought to me was ‘glacial”, said Iddon.

“It’s really unfortunate that we’re well over halfway through camping season for a lot of people, and we haven’t made any progress.”

Efforts to secure a permanent replacement for the Fernie sani-dump have not progressed either , with Boronowski reporting on July 11 that because the city had no suitable lands along the Hwy 3 corridor in town, and discussions with the Regional District had not yielded any solutions.

“Once we have our interim solution set up, we’ll start to pursue long-term solutions,” he said.

The VIC car-park hosted Fernie’s sani-dump for many years, with users paying a nominal fee. It was well-used in summer months, with traffic often backed up onto the highway, making it a safety concern, and contributing to the city’s rationale for removing it from that location.

READ MORE: City of Fernie awards $160k contract for parking upgrades at VIC, City Hall

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READ MORE: Fernie’s VIC car-park upgrade coming, temporary sani-dump in the works
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