The Fernie Chamber of Commerce has released an election platform ahead of the municipal election outlining what it sees as priorities for the next mayor and council of the City of Fernie. The platform was put together by the Fernie Chamber’s Advocacy Committee through engagement with members over the spring and summer. The platform was also informed by the Fernie Business Retention & Expansion Survey and Report, which was completed by 245 businesses that operate in Fernie. The final document was voted on by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce board of directors at their regular board meeting on September 8, 2022.
The platform is made up of 18 positions or “asks”, under four broad categories:
Meaningfully engage local businesses, community partners, and citizens
• Provide regular communication and a variety of engagement opportunities to all Fernie businesses on issues that directly impact them.
• Facilitate regular council to board engagement opportunities for key community groups.
• Prioritize a new Official Community Plan (starting in 2023) with unprecedented public engagement and consultation throughout the process.
• Implement other forms of communication and engagement with businesses and citizens, that are not just project-based but ongoing.
Urgently address housing attainability
• Change policy, processes, and staffing levels to optimize and meet the increased building and development activity we are seeing in Fernie.
• Approve multifamily developments and secondary suites as a means of increasing density and housing supply, even in the face of NIMBY-ism.
• Clearly define and publish a suite of building and development incentives to attract partners for projects that address community needs.
• Prioritize making strategically selected parcels of City-owned land available for public-private partnerships to develop projects that address community needs.
• Consistent and active enforcement of (and reporting on) the Short Term Rental Bylaw to protect Fernie’s housing stock for long-term renters.
• Create short-term emergency accommodation opportunities as a landing pad for newly arrived workers, while they navigate the local housing market.
Make Fernie more livable, sustainable, and inclusive
• Make addressing Fernie’s aging infrastructure needs a cornerstone of the City of Fernie’s plans for the next four years, and beyond.
• Make it easy for citizens and workers to move around the community and region with a renewed focus on Fernie’s transportation needs.
• Review City of Fernie policy, operations, and facilities through the lens of accessibility, inclusivity, and universal design.
• Prioritize the planning and development of a new firehall and emergency services facility that is located along the Highway 3 corridor – not 2nd Avenue.
Make it easy to do business in Fernie
• Create an economic or business development officer role to act as an informed and resourced first point of contact for businesses and developers trying to work with the City of Fernie.
• Leverage membership in the Elk Valley Economic Initiative by using and sharing the data and tools it generates, and implementing its recommendations.
• Define for Fernie businesses what the return on investment is on their business license fees.
• Address the lack of commercial lands available in Fernie by allowing flexibility for sensible and creative uses and variances to existing commercial zones.
The release of the platform is timed with the start of the official campaign period for the municipal election. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan organization. This means the organization is not bias towards any party or candidate and will not be endorsing any candidate during this (or any other) election cycle. The Fernie Chamber looks forward to engaging with candidates and working with the new council on the priorities it has set forward in this platform.
Candidates running for public office will be sent a copy of the platform (both the full version and summary version, as above) and are welcome to reach out to the Fernie Chamber to further discuss the needs of businesses in Fernie.
The Fernie Chamber of Commerce will be hosting the Fernie All-Candidates Municipal Election Forum on the evening of Tuesday 4 October 2022 at the Fernie Community Centre. More information (including the format and rules for the forum) will be released at the end of this week. The general public can submit questions ahead of the forum to be posed to candidates for mayor and council, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.