Fernie Valley Pathway

Fernie is an active community with active people. Bike trails for the mellow wanderer, single-track for the extreme downhiller. Even in winter, our elaborate trail system weaves between neighbourhoods and through beautiful parks around town. We are a lucky bunch, to live in such a beautiful place, where the preferred mode of transportation is with our feet.

There is still room to grow, though, when it comes to trails. Fortunately, this growth comes in the form of the Fernie Valley Pathway (FVP).

The FVP is proposed as a paved multi-use pathway intended to connect the City of Fernie (COF) to the community at Fernie Alpine Resort (FAR), and all those inbetween— a 7-kilometre trail running the Elk River valley, crossing the Lizard Creek Bridge, and meandering up to the ski hill. It is a commuter connectivity pathway and holds many purposes: improving health, promoting education, connecting the community, and creating new business opportunities. Most importantly, though, the FVP’s focus is on accessibility.

Intended for use by various commuters and pedestrians, the pathway will accommodate people riding bikes, walking on foot, and users of mobility aids. It will include kilometre markers and interpretive signage with easy access points, and is sure to transform into a well-used—and even more well-loved—route from here to there and back again.

The project, orchestrated by a committee of the Fernie Trails Alliance (FTA), has many partners including the COF, the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Other supporters include the Fernie Snow Valley Community Association, and the Resort of the Canadian Rockies, along with a growing list of individuals, community organizations, and local businesses.

A trail connecting the COF to FAR is no new idea, beginning when volunteers originally created the Centennial Trail back in 2004. Previous committees, of whom members included the COF and the RDEK planners ensured the Centennial Trail became a part of Fernie’s Official Community Plan (OCP) and as such the idea to expand it was ignited once more.

The objective of the Centennial Trail project was revived in 2016, followed by the proposed FVP. The committee—with Jason Sinclair and Terry Nelson as Co-Chairs— is passionate about safe connectivity, recognizing that what’s been missing between communities of Fernie is a direct link that does not involve a busy highway. With many residents from all areas of Fernie on the committee, the pathway promises to benefit everyone from east to west.

The committee is currently in the planning and engineering stages. “This phase is all about looking at the potential challenges, constraints and stakeholder considerations, and then coming up with the most costeffective and beneficial solutions,” said Jason. The exact pathway alignment is not yet set in stone, and an engineering study will determine the most preferred, and most feasible, route.

Events like the annual Powder, Pedal, Paddle will be positively influenced by such a pathway, along with the countless other connections to be made between the COF and FAR. To have a safe, accessible, and paved pathway suitable for walkers, rollerbladers, bikers, chariots and strollers, wheelchair users and runners is the best kind of trail Fernie residents and visitors can hope for.

Indeed, the FVP will open up adaptive movement for anyone who craves the wind in their hair, the sunshine on their face.

For more information, visit the FTA’s website at fernietrailsalliance.com and go to the Fernie Valley Pathway section. For questions email fernievalleypathway@gmail.com. Look to Fernie Brewing Co. this summer, who will donate proceeds from their “Cheers to Charity” donation program to fundraise for the Fernie Valley Pathway.