The newly formed Fernie Heritage Strategy Steering Committee, who will be leading, guiding and overseeing the creation of a Heritage Master Plan for the City of Fernie, began their work on August 23, 2017 with a dinner meeting. A Heritage Master Plan provides the context, tools and policies to manage change in such a way that the wide range of heritage values in a community are retained, enhanced, celebrated and embedded into overall community planning. Fernie already balances heritage conservation of its historic downtown district with sustainable economic development while continuing to cultivate its culture and character. Fernie’s heritage however, is much deeper and broader than its downtown commercial buildings, and this planning process will allow additional places, stories and values to be identified and incorporated into planning considerations in the midst of the fast-paced development and changes the community is currently facing.
Following an orientation meeting, the committee was lucky enough to participate in a day trip to Coleman and the Old Hillcrest Cemetery hosted by the committee’s Albertan counterparts – the Crowsnest Pass Historic Resources Board. Sharing similar mining town roots and stories, Fernie and Crowsnest have a lot in common. Having the exciting opportunity to hear and see some of the projects achieved by Crowsnest Heritage Initiative in the last 15 years was inspiring and informative to our group as it explores appropriate and effective heritage public awareness programs for Fernie. Deepening this relationship and collaboration with heritage and cultural tourism groups in Crowsnest will no doubt be an asset to Fernie’s upcoming heritage process!
The steering committee is made up of an excellent mix of Fernie residents who bring to the table crucial skills, connections and enthusiasm to ensure the Heritage Master Plan, which will likely launch in the fall and take a year and a half, is informed by community, municipal and professional input. The committee consists of Andre Bloemink, Deb Clapp, Mary Giuliano (City Council Liaison), Jikke Gyorki, Bruce Lennox (Director, City Planning), Randal Macnair, Steve Thomson, Gordon Sombrowski, and Ron Ulrich (chair). The work of the Fernie Heritage Master Plan Steering Committee is being supported by Elana Zysblat, a heritage consultant with Heritage BC.
The next step for the committee is to submit a grant to the Columbia Basin Trust Built Heritage Program for a planning grant to hire a consultant to assist the committee in the preparation of the Heritage Master Plan, for which there will be considerable community consultation.