Fernie Chamber of Commerce Secures Grant for Workforce Rental Housing Business Plan

Fernie, BC - The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce the successful securement of a grant funded by the Province of British Columbia under the Rural Economic Diversification and Infrastructure Program (REDIP). This grant will support the development of a Business Plan for Building Workforce Rental Housing in Fernie, BC, addressing the critical need for affordable and attainable housing in the region. 

The Fernie workforce housing plan aims to deliver an investment-ready business plan to construct and  operate rental housing for Fernie’s tourism, hospitality, and service-oriented workers. The project  targets individuals earning less than the local living wage, which was calculated at $23.58 per hour in 2022. 

The Fernie Chamber has engaged New Commons Development Inc. and Urban Matters CCC Ltd. to deliver the services outlined in the business plan. New Commons, a non-profit real estate development  company specializing in affordable housing, will lead the development feasibility assessment, while Urban Matters, a leading social enterprise, will lead the engagement process and research into legal and  governance models. 

The project will kick-off with engagement with employees, employers, and the greater community to gather input and develop a shared vision for the housing initiative. Next steps will include a public  survey, interviews, and a visioning workshop which will inform the development options, conceptual  design, and business plan. The business plan will support the development of partnerships and inform funding applications to construct affordable workforce housing in Fernie. 

The Chamber’s project partners, including The City of Fernie and Tourism Fernie, are pivotal to the success of the Fernie workforce housing initiative, actively contributing expertise and resources.  Additionally, an Advisory Group comprised of community stakeholders will convene periodically to offer feedback at crucial stages of the project, enhancing its effectiveness and community engagement. 

Wendy McDougall, Executive Director of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, expressed enthusiasm for the planning project: "We are thrilled to be the recipients of this grant and have the opportunity to  advance tangible solutions to Fernie’s workforce housing needs. We look forward to engaging with the community to make this a collaborative housing planning project.”