Ferine City Council has decided to sign on to the Fernie Tourism Master Plan which aims to build and sustain its reputation as a resort town and draw in more visitors.
Council’s involvement will allow it to make plans to create and manage a more sustainable tourism industry in the city.
“Now it’s time to commit. That’s what Council did on Monday night, we are committed to being part of the process,” said Ange Qualizza, Fernie’s mayor. “There’s a lot of opportunities within that plan where projects are going to dovetail nicely into the Tourism Master Plan, which is a reason that this process is very important for the community.”
Qualizza added that integrated planning will mesh well with other city projects.
“We’re committed, as a Council and staff of moving through a process that includes an integrated Transportation Master Plan. So, how are we going to be moving pedestrians through the community and creating corridors and opportunities for walkers and bikers so they are not interfacing with vehicles very much? That is a perfect project that would dovetail nicely into the Tourism Master Plan where we could have a signage strategy to support that,” explained Qualizza. “That’s going to be one of the benefits of signing onto the Tourism Master Plan is that these projects that impact Fernie that we identified as priorities also blend into tourism and also economic development.”
One project that Qualizza highlighted was a signage plan, meant to give visitors an idea of places of interest, which she added will also integrate cultural destinations and indigenous languages.
The Tourism Master Plan has been worked on for some time, but Qualizza said it’s now ready to be implemented.
“This has been a process that has been going on for a while, with a goal of working with stakeholders to manage the impact of tourism for the betterment of our community and encourage a little bit more sustainability with it as we become an even more popular resort town,” said Qualizza. “It’s certainly been on everyone’s radar for a while, but this is going to really formalize that process of how we work together to manage and grow tourism sustainably.”
Fernie is among B.C. towns that are part of the Resort Municipality Initiative, which the Provincial Government says is meant to help support and build tourism-based municipalities.
“One of the goals of that funding program is the ratepayer shouldn’t have to bear the cost of managing tourism,’ said Qualizza. “In destination communities like Fernie, bringing in summer or winter visitors has a bit of an impact on the community, and those funds allow us to manage that.”
Mayor Qualizza said the plan will have a benefit Fernie as a whole, and not just visitors.
“From my point of view, as an economist, I think that one of the things that we know now with economic development is that jobs are moving to where people want to live,” concluded Qualizza. “So, investing in your community with intention, to make it a place where people want to live, won’t just bring tourism, but it brings investments. I think any of these intentional processes that help us make better decisions are an improvement for the community, and I think they’re a step in the right direction.”