Ford Versus Ferrari

Service level reviews, examining needs, swimming through the sea of wants. It’s really an everyday process in local government, one that keeps us balancing strategic priorities designed to insulate our community from poor investment choices that do not support our infrastructure needs, against the always present ‘emerging needs.’ Or are they wants? Some days, it is truly a balancing act.

If we do it right, moving through a service level review is about improving the service, finding efficiencies, changing the service potentially, and perhaps -most importantly setting the actual service level at a place the community can and will support. What would it look like if we used the same amount of resources to serve the community better, does this mean some people might get less while some people get more? We will only find out if we have the courage to start having these conversations as a community.

Last week there was a movie playing called, Ford Versus Ferrari and I thought. That’s it! That is service level. How do we balance providing a service like snow removal that is essential, while keeping taxes low? As we navigate any service level review, some people will choose a Ford Escort, completely comfortable with a level of service that matches affordability, while some will want a Ferrari. Both vehicles will serve your needs, but one comes at a much higher cost.

Council’s responsibilities are varied and include; maintaining the financial integrity of the municipality, ensuring operations are accountable, developing and evaluating the policies of the municipality, and to ensure the current practices and procedures are in place to implement the directions of Council. Thus, it is perfectly appropriate we are moving through the exercise of updating a Snow and Ice Removal Policy that is over twenty years old!

The challenges we face with our current policy are vast, this process is clearly no longer serving the needs of our community. It does not incorporate different modes of transportation, focusing solely on vehicles. A lack of prioritized routes, which means access to some of our own facilities gets cleared at a later date. The list is long of the challenges faced by both staff and our community, please head over to our web site to read more.

What can we expect during this process? I’m going to guess a little bit of friction. A lot of concern. Some uncertainty, and high expectations. No one said evaluating service levels and updating policy was going to be easy, or it wouldn’t have taken twenty years!

What does it mean for you though specifically? There will be plenty of opportunity to be engaged about what kind of service you feel Fernie needs. There will be a suite of public engagement tools designed to gather your feedback. So, remember to show up and participate. You might feel all of those feelings about this process, but together we will stand a much better change at designing a snow and ice removal process that suits the needs of Fernie in 2020.

For more information about the process please go to and then click on What’s New - Snow and Ice Management - Pilot Project -  then click on the link to ‘learn more about the proposed changes.’

Let’s work together to improve this essential service!