Fernie’s first Heritage Revitalization Agreement

Once completed, the Fernie Heritage Strategy will provide a toolbox that the City of Fernie planning department can use to promote the preservation of Fernie’s built heritage.

We here at Heritage Fernie are celebrating the City of Fernie’s first application of one of the more powerful tools in that toolbox – the Heritage Revitalization Agreement – in approving the rezoning of the Lutheran Church property. The new owners wish to adapt the property from its historic use as a place of worship to a single family dwelling. The City approved the rezoning application in return for preserving character defining events of this property using an HRA. It is a win for the owners, a win for heritage and a win ultimately for the community!

For more information about what an HRA can provide property owners considering redevelopment, see the article in the February 2019 edition of the Fernie Fix by Mayor Ange Qualizza. The article provides a positive local case study into what an HRA can do.

For congregations struggling with declining attendance, decreasing revenues and increasing building expenses, the task of regenerating their place of faith can be daunting. And for heritage advocates and community groups, the potential loss of those places and the multiple activities they house can be overwhelming. More than anything, we here at Heritage Fernie are pleased that we did not lose this building to the wrecking ball, and that the building is now in good hands with a bylaw in place to protect it. More often than heritage advocates would like, historic places of worship are being purchased and demolished to make way for development.

To learn more about the challenges of preserving places of faith, visit The National Trust of Canada website, Regenerating Places of Faith.

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Fernie Heritage Strategy Update | Fall 2018

On Saturday September 15th. Open Doors invited residents and visitors to take a look inside six of Fernie’s heritage buildings. At City Hall, participants were interested in the council chambers and many took the opportunity to sit in the mayor’s chair. Outside the chamber, the heritage consultants working on Fernie’s Heritage Strategy were on hand with a display of panels showing key sections from the Heritage Context Statement, phase one of the Strategy. Downstairs, information was available from the Columbia Basin Trust, a funding partner for the Heritage Strategy.

An enthusiastic and large number of visitors dropped in and kept the consultants busy all day chatting about Fernie’s heritage, offering comment and notes. The consultants were very pleased to see how much residents cared about their city and how interested they were in the heritage. Post cards with the address of the online survey proved to be a popular item. The survey had an impressive response rate before the open house and the consultants are looking forward to additional results.

During the Fernie Heritage Strategy Open House, the consultants also offered two very well attended walking tours. One looked at the six buildings that have received Columbia Basin Trust grants and discussed some of the issues involved in each. The second tour looked at the catalogue and ‘ready made’ houses found in Fernie. Again, there was an enthusiastic response to the tours along with incisive questions and comments from both audiences.

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BC Heritage Week Announcement

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.

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The Fernie Heritage Strategy Steering Committee Begins Its Work

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.

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