Heritage Fernie, in partnership with the City of Fernie, officially kicked off the development of the Fernie Heritage Strategy on Friday, February 23 as part of BC Heritage Week.
Development of the Fernie Heritage Strategy has been funded through a $35,000 planning grant from the Columbia Basin Trust Built Heritage grant program administered by Heritage BC. The City of Fernie is also contributing a one-time $10,000 grant as matching funds.
A Steering Committee was formed in August 2017 to oversee the process and to secure funding for the initiative. The Steering Committee of community stakeholders includes public, commercial and residential property owners and representatives of Heritage Fernie, Tourism Fernie, and the City of Fernie.
Standing on one of the grand staircases of the historic Fernie Courthouse, steering committee member Gordon Sombrowski spoke of the need for a community-driven heritage master plan. “Of all of Fernie’s many wonders perhaps less understood, and therefore more at risk, is our heritage. Everyday I see people strolling amidst our magnificent architectural heritage looking with pleasure, taking photos, enquiring about our history. We all enjoy living with, and benefitting from, our heritage. We have a duty to ensure that it is properly looked after. Our future as a vibrant town will depend upon it!”
Mary Giuliano, Mayor of Fernie, spoke of the City’s support of a heritage master plan. “One of our Official Community Plan goals is development of a heritage inventory and heritage planning toolkit. We are pleased to be able to support Heritage Fernie as they spearhead this initiative. It will provide a valuable instrument for the City to make informed decisions on the redevelopment, protection and restoration of heritage buildings and spaces in our community.”
From Vancouver, BC, Heritage BC Executive Director Paul Gravett stated “Heritage BC applauds the vision and collaborative spirit of the City of Fernie and the Fernie & District Historical Society in preserving built heritage in Fernie. The Heritage Master Plan is more than a recognition of what was. It will be a vital step toward envisioning what can be. Acknowledging Fernie’s legacy and honouring the past that has shaped the present will help to sustain the future.”
As next steps, the Steering Committee will hire a consultant to assist in the development of the plan, and conduct a series of “kitchen-table” style community engagement sessions from May to August. The committee hopes to present the outcomes of those sessions at a community Open House during the 2018 Chautauqua and Fall Fair.