The Greater Good

I am very grateful for the good people in this community. One of those people, a kind soul, great new mom, and talented potter, gifted me a handmade coffee mug immediately post-election. The mug is embossed with trees and an image of the Lorax, the creation of Dr. Suess. You may see me using it at Council meetings.

In my experience everyone in this valley cares deeply and in a very personal way for their environment. This mug is a touchstone I use as a reminder to be true to my values even in the face of tremendous pressure. When running for office I said and believe that all my decisions should be informed by the questions: Is it fair? Is it for the greater good of the community? My experience thus far confirms that answering these questions is complex, fraught with the need to find balance across a spectrum of interests that must inform the decision-making process. 

We marvel at our good fortune living here. On rare and fleeting moments of clarity in our busy lives we step out in the morning in awe of the mountains and forests surrounding our tidy little city, nestled in its crook of the Elk River. And many of us likely think, even subconsciously: I wish it could stay like this forever.

Change, however, is inevitable even necessary for a community to evolve and thrive. But change can be disruptive and even destructive if not carefully managed. In an environment like ours, when something is gone it will never come back. 

There are so many values to protect in the Elk Valley. Both our built environment and surrounding landscape attract new residents and visitors by the thousands. These assets contribute to our physical and emotional wellness in countless ways. Just bumping into a friend on Second Avenue or on a trail has a significant restorative effect on our wellbeing and feeds that part of our humanity that thrives on social contact, reminding us we are an integral part of the life of something greater than ourselves. 

The best way to steward something is to understand what about it you value the most and to work hard to protect those values. This year the City of Fernie embarks on an update of our Official Community Plan (OCP), a guiding document that has not been rewritten since it was published as a bylaw in 2014. It is our chance to plan our future together and it needs your participation to make it a living and legitimate roadmap to guide not just this Council but future Councils as well. Please watch for invitations and updates on how to take part in this critical process. 

We all have a touchstone, be it mug or place or person, to remind us to be true to our values. Let’s take advantage of this chance to express those values and to build a coherent and balanced plan for our future.

Photo by Vanessa Croome