Park Place Lodge

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you’ll find
You get what you need.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want (1968)
The Rolling Stones

Let’s look at the current discussion around the location of Fernie’s future Fire Hall.

Over 90% of the calls are on Highway 3. The two locations being considered are both removed from Highway 3. Both require driving through residential neighborhoods to reach the highway. Not the safest alternatives for an emergency vehicle in a hurry to reach a time critical incident.

As near as I can tell, the Fernie Fire Department wants a facility that’s more than seven times the size of its current location. Seven times bigger! An acre and a half vs around a fifth of an acre.


So far, there is no justification for the “want” for the dramatically larger space. There are no reasons presented for taking the Fire Hall off the highway. The last hall lasted over fifty years and we should expect the new one to do at least the same. Judging from the increase in traffic and development outside of town, we can reasonably assume future the need to access Highway 3 will become even greater than it is today..

The essential premises of the process as currently presented are essentially flawed. The choice is worse and/or worser.


Downtown has changed in the last twenty years. The retail space is maxed with very few and infrequent openings. We need to expand the downtown core. The only logical place to expand is the old athletic fields across from 901.

There is no longer a reason or place for industrial use (read that as zoned land) within the downtown core. The bus barns, the old BC Hydro property and the fire station should all be rezoned and repurposed to meet future downtown retail/mixed use core needs. The industrial services and uses belong in the industrial park on the edge of town or on the highway (as with the Fire Station). There is adequate land available in both instances.

The City Council should re-zone the current industrial properties to downtown commercial mixed use with a five-year grace period for removal.

The Fire Hall should be on Highway 3 with quick access to the vast majority of their incidents.


We are at a tipping point in our community. We need to plan long-term—twenty, forty, fifty years into the future. What is convenient today will become a burden in ten or fifteen years and have to be revisited. That is a luxury we do not have.

And for all the nay-sayers that wank, It’s too late, remember Max Turk. That “deal” signed, sealed, and delivered by the last Council. No more. This council reversed it with very little pressure. We have a ton of time to make a reasonable decision on the location of a new Fire Station that will serve us well for the next fifty years. And at the same time, reconfigure the downtown core so it will serve us as well. Serve us for twenty, forty, or even fifty years.

We need to make difficult and reasoned long-term planning decisions, not convenient decisions for today.

The fire hall must be placed on the highway and we need to eliminate industrial use within the downtown core.

Think twenty, forty, fifty years ahead and what we will need. Not the simply the convenience of today.

Keith Liggett has a writing career with one foot in the literary and the other seeking a different angle within traditional journalism. Read more from Keith here.

Leave a comment

Related Stories

#FernieReport on Instagram