During last week’s Fernie council meeting, two zoning bylaws were adopted. The requests for zoning amendments were made by residents in the City of Fernie, and although these types of requests are not uncommon, the public feedback during the April 13 meeting was.
Neighbours approached council to debate the merits of the zoning changes, addressing their concerns about off-street parking, site lines and potential renters. However, after arguing about off-street parking and obstructed views, neighbours were informed that their initial concerns had no grounds. The individuals making these zoning requests were prepared to address their neighbour’s concerns and assured them that not only would the properties be built at a reasonable height but they would also offer additional off-street parking.
At the same time, I believe neighbours should have an open dialogue with each other before approaching council. The individuals requesting zoning amendments seemed like very approachable individuals and judging by their preparedness for the council meeting, it is quite clear they would have been ready to address any of their neighbours concerns one on one.
Fernie council has spoken again and again about how certain zoning bylaws need amending, but until that time, these residents have a right to request that their property zoning be amended.
For one individual, that request entailed a garage loft building that would free up off-street parking in addition to providing a place for his children and grandchildren to stay when they come to visit. Neither resident had any intention of renting out properties, and both residents requesting zoning amendments noted that they factored in potential concerns during their planning. I understand that concerns arise when an individual discovers their neighbour is expanding a home or building another structure on their property, but what I can’t quite grasp is why these concerns are not brought forward to the individual before they are brought forward to council. A simple request for information would suffice, and although the resident is not obligated to provide that information, it is very likely that they would in order to ease their neighbour’s concerns.
Locals and visitors alike recognize Fernie as a friendly, easy-going city and I believe it is up to the residents here to continue to perpetuate that feeling. Have a conversation with your neighbours – it’s as simple as that.