The Fernie Heritage Strategy is a succinct and implementable heritage program for Fernie providing key strategic actions. It will be:

Big picture. It is based on a comprehensive understanding of Fernie’s history and heritage, as seen in its buildings, structures, landscapes, neighbourhoods, community rituals and intangible resources.

Integrated. It aligns with Fernie’s OCP and concurrent City master plans and strategies that staff can easily integrate into existing and future planning initiatives, that will be applicable and inclusive to all of the City’s resources, and relevant over the next several decades.

Community based. It will be led and co-developed by a community steering committee, and will be informed by consultation, engagement and involvement of the local residents, stakeholders and leadership.

Forward looking. It will be based on current thinking and best practices in heritage conservation.


Heritage conservation used to primarily focus on early, custom designed buildings – their design, their materials and how to restore them
back to what they looked like at the time of construction.

Heritage conservation today is based on the more current understanding that what makes something part of our heritage is not whether it is a building or a landscape, but the value that we place on it. Values-based conservation strives to protect heritage values, rather than focusing solely on aesthetic or historic elements of places. A values-based approach ensures that a community first determines and understands what it holds as significant about its past and about its community heritage identity, before deciding what or how it will conserve. At its most basic, heritage is what people value and want to hand on to the future.

Heritage Context is important. Before focusing on individual sites or buildings we start with considering the larger context, historic districts,
cultural landscapes and the evolution of a community over time.

Vernacular. We now consider that the vernacular and the everyday have heritage value: the representative and common row of houses, corner groceries, outdoor gathering places – often the most cherished historic places and crucial illustrations of a community’s heritage values.

Relevancy. Heritage values, districts and buildings are key to revitalization and community renewal and are great candidates for adaptive reuse and hubs for new ideas. Using our heritage as a touchstone for planning our future is the best way to ensure its conservation. The integration of the understanding of our heritage into current planning initiatives and processes will ensure an authentic, diverse, vibrant and sustainable city.


Identify and protect Fernie’s heritage and character through an integrated, holistic, sustainable approach to heritage conservation.

Re-affirm the identity of the town through a community-wide understanding and celebration of its heritage and character.

Create heritage policies, strategies and actions for managing change and development in Fernie that are:
• informed and guided by its community heritage values and through a process of community consultation
• consistent with legal and administrative limitations, and that reflects principles in Fernie’s Official Community Plan and other master plans and planning initiatives completed or currently underway in the community
• pragmatic, technically sound and provides clear implementation guidelines
• in support of local and regional economic sectors

Integrate heritage conservation into overall community planning processes.


Visit for more information, project updates, to fill out community surveys and share your Fernie story and photographs.

Submit ideas to the Fernie Heritage Strategy Steering Committee by e-mailing

Invite members of the Steering Committee to present in your neighbourhood or to your organization.

Elana ZysblatLead Consultant

Elana Zysblat

Lead Consultant

Elana Zysblat is an accomplished heritage consultant with expertise in heritage conservation, cultural tourism and community engagement.  Since 2012, Elana’s practice as an independent heritage consultant has reached all areas of BC, with an emphasis on the Kootenay region since 2016.

John Atkin


John Atkin is a storyteller at heart. With years of research experience and a strong familiarity with heritage in Vancouver and the Kootenay region, he provides building research services for clients that include Statements of Significance, Heritage and Character Assessments, and Conservation Plans.

John AtkinConsultant
Denise CookConsultant

Denise Cook


With a particular focus on cultural landscapes, Denise’s heritage conservation work, interpretation and design sensibility draws upon community history and character while working with all levels of government and the private sector to develop effective and creative heritage conservation, management and design plans.