Following the trail

So there is a move to reactivate the celebrated Fernie Centennial Trail and finish it as the all season non-motorized trail from Fernie to the FAR as it was originally sold to local residents.

Who is going to pay for it this time? It was originally funded through the RDEK because it is mostly in the Regional District. Since it is Fernie residents who want it, perhaps they should pay the whole cost. After all, pavement, lights and snowplowing can’t be that much and since the rural residents that live along the way originally expressed negative opinions of it they probably won’t appreciate being made to pay for it.

It was proposed to the RDEK by Mayor Macnair in either 2002 or 2003 and although I accepted the concept, my 20 years of legal and engineering survey work and 18 years of planning and design in the Balmer Coal Mine gave me the perspective to criticize the location and other details of the trail. I stopped arguing when I realized it would eventually implode.

I thought that rather be on the highway shoulder through West Fernie, then go through Smittys and the Super 8 in the City’s extended boundary, then onto a frontage road in rural RDEK again, the trail should follow the West Fernie dyke from the West Fernie bridge, along the river and join the east side of the highway by way of a footbridge just south of the beaver dam. If those short narrow stretches of highway shoulder immediately south of the beaver dam could be widened the trail could stay on the river side of the highway almost to the FAR.

Since Director Sosnowski was able to get $500,000 out of MLA Bennett to reconstruct that crumbling section of dyke protecting West Fernie that had been ignored by earlier reconstruction because the city had taken it in during a boundary extension to enable construction and servicing of Smittys, I expect he can get enough to complete the dyke trail, build the footbridge and widen the east shoulder beside the highway enough for a 2.4 metre wide trail. And if Sosnowski is still grooming the City’s other trails he could just add this one to the contract. It could only be used year round if it can be groomed close to the highway.


Peter Ross