By Ezra Black
Last week approximately 130 properties on the south side of Highway 3 officially became part of the City of Fernie.
On Dec. 9, the City of Fernie and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) received notification from the province that the redrawing of the city’s boundaries had been approved.
Provincial approval means that all annexed properties with functioning sewer can apply to the City of Fernie for sewer service. Also, inquiries and applications for development such as building permits, rezoning and subdivisions should now be directed to City of Fernie staff.
The annexed properties will pay taxes to the City of Fernie. Residents will undergo a five-year transition from the RDEK tax rate to the City of Fernie tax rate. A parcel tax to cover the cost of the project will be applied to all West Fernie properties after Phase 2 of the West Fernie Servicing and Infrastructure Project is complete.
The RDEK and the City of Fernie are calling this a milestone for the West Fernie Servicing and Infrastructure Project.
“The City of Fernie is pleased to welcome its newest residents,” said Fernie Mayor Mary Giuliano in a statement. “We look forward to the continued progress in the months to come and to the day we can officially celebrate West Fernie in its entirety becoming part of the City of Fernie.”
According to a statement from the RDEK, the approximately $17 million two-phase project will provide West Fernie residents and businesses with an upgraded water system and new storm water and sanitary sewer systems.
It is the largest construction project in the history of the RDEK.
“This is an exciting moment in this project,” says RDEK Electoral Area A director, Mike Sosnowski in a statement. “Having said that, there is still a great deal of work to do as we finish Phase 1 construction this spring and focus our energy on Phase 2.”
While Phase 1 is largely complete, there is still work to do in the spring including some underground infrastructure work in one area south of the highway, along with some ditching, storm work, final grading, topsoil and hydroseeding.
The detailed design for Phase 2 is nearing completion and the RDEK expects it to go to tender in January, with construction in 2017. A Request for Qualifications for Phase 2 closed this week.
A formal celebration will be planned for the completion of all phases of the project in 2018.