Fernie council candidate Patrick Burke. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press )

Fernie council candidate Patrick Burke. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press )

Patrick Burke running for a Fernie council seat

Burke previously served on council between 2005 and 2008

Fernie council candidate Patrick Burke is campaigning on communication and engagement as key points in his run for a council seat.

“I really believe the people have lost connection with the city council,” he said in an interview with The Free Press.

“Get the people of Fernie in on the conversations. I feel it’s important to communicate with people. I think that’s what we’re missing, and then the worst thing that can happen is people feel they’re not being heard and feeling like they have no say.”

Burke said a natural step in having those feelings was wondering whether Fernie was the right community to live in, so more needed to be done to ensure the community came along with decisions and felt included.

An active member of the community himself, Burke has been involved as a founding member of the Fernie Arts Co-Op, the Fernie Nordic Society, the Fernie Arts Theatre Ensemble Society and more.

He also previously served on city council between 2005 and 2008, but failed to secure re-election in 2o08. While he was on council he worked to save the Fernie oil derrick (at the Visitor Information Centre), advocated for and played a part in the adoption of the city’s policy of senior’s windrow removals during winter, and pushed for the large free store at the transfer station.

With a background in computer science, Burke runs a computer consulting company, and previously worked with Westar Mining. He and his wife moved to Fernie in 1988, and have been running the Old Nurses Bed and Breakfast since 1991.

He said that if he were elected to council a second time, he’d push the city on finding cost-effective solutions to Fernie’s needs, such as spending on preventative maintenance of key infrastructure, and working to standardise street design and ensure unnecessary works were not carried out.

He also said affordable housing was a major issue for the town, saying the city would do well to encourage more housing by providing small tax breaks to those that added suites.

Another idea was to pull back from forcing people out of non-conforming suites.

“We have a lot of non-conforming suites in Fernie. I think we should leave them, but have the system complaint-based only. If they’re reported, deal with it, if they don’t, it’s a place for people to live. That’s where a lot of the affordable housing is, which is really important.

“If you get affordable housing you get a vibrant school system and a good healthcare system. It drags all of it along.”

Overall, Burke said he would want the city to continue of a trajectory of supporting mining and tourism, arts and culture, and also providing services to seniors and young families.

Burke said it was important to have councils that listened to the people, listing examples of complaints and comments that when acted upon, made huge differences to the community.

“You have to respect them when they communicate to you their needs. I think that’s what I bring: I’ll listen and filter through the stuff we can’t do anything about, and try and help with the things that we can.”

READ MORE: Editor’s note: Calling all local candidates

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Election 2022