Potential amendments to zoning bylaws at FAR

The Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK) held a public hearing on Jan. 26 to discuss bylaw amendments at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).

The Regional District East Kootenay (RDEK) held a public hearing on Jan. 26 to discuss bylaw amendments at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR).

Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR), who owns FAR, has asked for amendments zoning bylaws 2585 and 2586 in regards to developing at FAR in the Timberline area.

“There are two huge lots that actually make up everything at the ski hill that is not developed yet. So what they’re proposing to change is just little pieces of them,” said Tracey Van de Wiel, a planning technician at the RDEK. “One of the key things about that application is that those two lots that we are talking about are not developed yet. They already have zoning to permit a 52 lot subdivision.”

Under the current zoning bylaws, RCR is allowed to develop the lots into single and multi-family dwellings.

“What has happened since they did that original conceptual lay out is that they are changing a bit of the layout. Some of the places where it used to be a certain kind of lot now are going to be a different kind of lot. That’s what the zoning application was for – some of the corners of the lots have moved a little bit,” said Van de Wiel.

According to Patrick Majer, development and utilities manager for RCR, they are planning to develop homes similar to ones that are already at the hill.

“The multi-family will likely be four-plexes side-by-side, kind of what you see at the resort now. Polar Peak would be a good example of something like that. But nothing stacked or multiple stories kind of thing,” said Majer.

The Official Community Plan (OCP) oversees all of the bylaws set by the RDEK regarding FAR. Under the current OCP, which was adopted in the summer of 2012, there are also stipulations regarding staff housing at the resort.

“In the original OCP, there was a commitment made from a previous company for staff housing. Since that time, things have changed at the resort level and at the regional district level. For example, they now allow secondary suites and there is a greater availability of homes and rentals in the Fernie market,” said Majer. “As part of the last OCP update, and in negotiation with the Regional District and the entire area, what they have changed it to is now they have asked for a housing study to be completed because the truth of the matter is that no one really understands the issue.”

The District has asked for a Terms of Reference, a document that will detail the specifics and parameters for a future study regarding staff housing. This will help determine if there is a need for staff-shared housing and what kind of form would best suit the resort.

“That will lay out all of the requirements for the study, for example, how much should it be up at the resort? Should there be some sort of staff housing in town? Should we be independent, should we join up with other businesses in the community? So it’s a much bigger, broader study that will study the impact and the requirements of that need in the entire community,” said Majer.

“There is a bunch of questions, so the very first thing that would have to happen is a study that can answer some of those questions – does staff really have no where to live? How many do we need, what type is best for the ski hill, should it be little apartments in other single family homes that staff live in or should it be a building that is a staff accommodation building or should the staff live in the city, in the city of Fernie? The study would answer those questions,” reiterated Van de Wiel.

For the zoning bylaw amendments to be approved, they will be heard for a second and third time at the next RDEK Board of Directors meeting, set for Feb. 12.