Months are flying by and council and staff are as usual working diligently to achieve as much as possible with present council priorities. In no time at all October will be here and time will have run out for this electoral term.
Some of those achievements include an action plan created to implement recommendations in the Human Resources Audit that was completed by the Auditor General. CAO Norm McInnis has been great in working with the employees to bring about some of those changes. He has the employees determining the changes and that is brilliant as it will mean so much more coming from them than if council or CAO applied changes. Bylaw was moved under the authority of the Fire Department, the longtime bylaw officer is no longer with the City of Fernie and recruitment for this position is in the works. In 2016 I spoke with then MLA B. Bennett, Minister of Transportation Todd Stone, and the local Ministry people in Cranbrook in regards to incorporating a wildlife passage and a separate pedestrian bridge crossing as part of the Lizard Creek Bridge replacement and a new trail link. Last September I also spoke with the new Minister of Transportation Minister C. Trevena about those projects and the Ministry has agreed to the wildlife corridor and the new bridge with pedestrian bridge attached and the possibility of a stand- alone pedestrian bridge and trail similar to the one by Fairy Creek.
At the Kootenay hospital meeting ten days ago IH rep Todd Mastel stated that there are only two anesthesiologists left at the Regional hospital. This could mean bringing doctors from Fernie that can provide this service to Cranbrook or having surgeons come here to perform some routine procedures. Surgical appointments have been cancelled due to this shortage. In our Fernie hospital,the operating room renovation project is now complete and the renovated area looks great. New equipment and new steel doors really make a difference.
As most know the evaluation process for Hockeyville is from February 11 to March 16. On March 17 the finalists are to be announced at the Hockey Night in Canada game. If Fernie is a finalist there is only time from March 30 to 31 to vote. The support that Wilkie, Saskatchewan has given us and all the many groups that put out videos and messages of support was truly amazing.
I received a call from the Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare who spoke to the provincial budget and the implication for Fernie. She said the RMI was not in the budget however for 2018 the RMI will continues as is with contingency funding as it has been a grant of $10.5 million for the past several years. She said she would work to get it into the next budget as either a permanent program or as a set number of years.
The allocation will be different probably meaning a decrease as has been happening each year recently. One positive is that for 2018 the City isn’t required to develop a new Resort Development Strategy but it does have to adhere to the same process to have projects either amended or new projects approved that fit with the 2015-2017 Strategy.
The Minister said she was very excited about the new Airbnb tax because that is money that communities can use at their discretion either for tourism or housing for workers.
She was also excited about the increase to the municipal and regional district tax (MRDT up to 3% ) that communities can continue to use for tourism or now use for affordable housing.
The MOU for the policing contract has been signed and in 2018 the City will pay for five members at a cost of $782,520, an increase of about $61.53 for the average home or 17 cents a day. In 2019 the city will pay for six members with a cost of $915,423. The committee for beautifying the dumpsters has met and calls for artists will go out soon, the Volunteer Lunch was well attended and thanks goes to the sponsors and especially all of the volunteers including the Senior Center group that prepared and served the lunch.
Councillor Warshawsky and I attended a workshop at the High School that was very interesting and informative, a lot of groups were there to present and talk about place based education, a way to keep students involved and thinking creatively as in today’s technical world information is at the fingertips of every child so what is needed is for children to learn critical thinking. Fernie is featured in a full page feature in the West Jet Magazine which certainly is providing much attention.
At the end of January the City was given the Arena back so work has been underway to check the lines and bring power and heat back into the building, plans are to purchase a new plant that isn’t ammonia based and have the arena back in use by September. The outdoor ice rink continues to get much use with a Timbits Hockey tournament and a skating carnival along with the many adults and children using the ice every day.