June 14, 2023
His Worship Nic Milligan
Mayor, City of Fernie
City Council Members
501-3rd Ave, Box 190
Fernie, BC V0B 1M0
RE: Potential Sale of Max Turyk Community Centre
Dear Mayor Milligan and Members of Council,
We would first like to acknowledge our appreciation for the improving relationship between the Fernie Chamber of Commerce and City Council under the leadership of the new administration. We appreciate the open lines of communication and collaborative spirit that have emerged, allowing us to work together for a prosperous and sustainable Fernie. It is with this sense of partnership and shared commitment that we provide our input on the important decision regarding the potential sale of the Max Turyk Community Centre. We value the opportunity to contribute to this process and efforts made by City Council to engage local businesses, community partners and citizens in this decision.
Our concerns regarding the potential sale of the Max Turyk Community Centre are rooted in the potential impacts on childcare services, urgently addressing housing attainability, the absence of a buyback option, and the lack of a competitive process. We firmly believe that these issues require careful consideration and strategic planning to safeguard the interests of the Fernie community.
One of our foremost concerns regarding the potential sale of the Max Turyk Community Centre is the destabilization of childcare services in our community. Max Turyk currently provides essential space for childcare facilities that serve working families in Fernie. Although it has been noted the Francophone School District (CSF) will work with the existing leaseholders to find an ongoing solution, our concern is that there is no long-term mechanism to ensure the space remains available beyond 2025 and there are little to no other childcare options available in town.
Urgently Addressing Housing Attainability
While we recognize the City’s efforts in retaining a portion of lands for future affordable housing or childcare opportunities, we have some concerns with the lands identified for this purpose. The lands selected will be difficult and costly to develop due to their proximity to existing services, furthermore a large portion of the lands lie within a flood plain. Fernie urgently requires attainable workforce housing and new childcare spaces. These lands are not in proximity to downtown amenities which may hinder this project from receiving affordable housing funding. The Chamber of Commerce believes there are other city-owned properties that would be better suited for affordable housing.
The Fernie Chamber also advocates for the inclusion of a buyback option in any potential sale agreement for the Max Turyk Community Centre. A buyback option would provide the City with the flexibility to repurchase the property in the event the CSF no longer requires it for a school. Land is at a premium in the City of Fernie especially this size of parcel. Having a buyback option would serve as a safety net, ensuring that the long-term interests of the community can be protected. It is crucial to preserve the opportunity for future decision-making that aligns with the growth potential of our community while keeping it sustainable and inclusive for all residents.
Lack of Competitive Process
Finally, we would encourage the City to consider the potential benefits of engaging in a competitive process, such as a Request for Proposals (RFP), for the sale of the Max Turyk Community Centre. A competitive process would allow multiple interested parties to submit proposals outlining their plans for the Centre, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of various options. It would promote transparency by providing a clear framework for decision-making and would allow the City to assess proposals based on their merits, potential benefits to the community, and alignment with Fernie’s long-term vision.
As the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, we are committed to fostering a sustainable and inclusive community that supports and advocates for the interests of local businesses, community partners and citizens. As partners in community development and Fernie’s future we value the opportunity to engage in open dialogue with City Council on the potential sale of Max Turyk Community Centre. Thank you for your attention to this matter and your consideration to our concerns. Members of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce board and I would be happy to meet to discuss these concerns further.
Antony McElwee, Chair
Fernie Chamber of Commerce
CC: Michael Boronowski, Chief Administrative Officer