An online petition called “Rethink Galloway” is gaining momentum among those who have concerns about the residential development proposed for Galloway Lands, which sits between the Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR) and Mt. Fernie Provincial Park.
The petition, which launched on Dec. 21, 2021, had 575 signatures as of Wednesday (Jan. 5), said Phil Mittertreiner, a director of the Fernie Snow Valley Community Association (FSVCA) and one of the concerned citizens who helped create the website and petition.
“We have some momentum,” he said.
Behind the petition is a group of people who have criticisms and concerns both about the process so far and about the proposal itself. The proposal is for re-zoning of the Galloway Lands to allow for the building of a residential development that would see up to 75 multi-acre lots, if it goes ahead. It is currently making its way through the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) bureaucracy, and has not yet progressed far enough to go to public hearings.
No specific organization spearheaded the petition or is officially affiliated with it, but it is being supported by members of groups such as the FSVCA, the Elk River Alliance (ERA), and Wildsight Elk Valley.
“It was a shared interest of many concerned citizens,” Mittertreiner said.
“We created this website because we’re outraged by the proposal and by the approval process.”
“We’re all in agreement that this development is not in the interest of the people who live here or come here to recreate.”
Those who sign the petition would be supporting two points.
The first is to “stop the process and make no approvals until fulsome, independent impact studies have been completed,” the Rethink Galloway website reads.
The recommended studies are: environmental impact (including ground water and septic), wildlife impact, fire safety, road safety, and community/social impact.
A traffic impact assessment and groundwater feasibility assessment were submitted with the original re-zoning application from the developer and landowner, Handshake Holdings and CH Nelson Holdings, respectively.
“Studies done today have been woefully inadequate,” Mittertreiner said.
The second is to “explore other options for this unique and valuable land, options that serve the environment as well as all current and future community members, not just the financial interests of the developer and the desires of potential estate home owners,” the website says.
The petition is open-ended, with no official end-date or plan of presentation. It is part of a broader advocacy campaign regarding the land and the proposal.
Signing the petition is just one small step in the process, Mittertreiner said, and is “not enough.”
“We’re building a community of concerned citizens who can work further to advocate against the proposal beyond the petition.”