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.