The Fernie Trails Alliance continually works to adapt to the changes that the trail users we represent desire. As with any community group, our challenges to meet these needs are diverse and many. Here are some of the examples, of the changes we have made of late.

Multi-use trail standard adaptations through the creation of the Fernie Trail Master Plan, which was a cooperative venture between the FTA and the City of Fernie. The recognition of these needs has been supported through the construction of more beginner accessible trails, wider bridges, surfacing improvements, and an extensive signage program.

Improvements to advanced mountain bike trails was accomplished at the Three Kings area, with fundraisers, access road enhancements, the creation of “Blue Matador” for upper level intermediate riders, post forest harvesting trail restorations, and general trail feature upgrades.

Trail safety related installations to get trail users off of roadways, was achieved through the construction of the new Lazy Lizard connector that extends from Mount Fernie Park to the Island Lake parking lot. This trail addition was made possible through the Thunder Ridge Fundraiser, and an infusion of funds from the City of Fernie RMI Fund.

Of course the Fairy Creek Pedestrian Bridge project provides a safe alternative to travelling on Highway #3, between the North Fernie Bridge and Dicken Road area. The funding process for this project was facilitated through the generous efforts of our volunteer grant writer, and our welcome funding partners. This is a very positive change to our funding processes moving forward on other major trail improvement projects.

The traffic control “chicanes” at the Cedar Ave. intersection are intended to have trail users stop before proceeding across the road. Hopefully the trail users can adapt to this change, as these fixtures are part of a pilot project that will see many more installations at these types of interfaces.

The construction of the Elk Valley Trans Canada Trail is in progress and will create a major change in the socio-economic fabric of the valley, through varied opportunities that this connection will support. Providing opportunities for both locals to find their way from their respective communities of Elko, Fernie, Hosmer, Sparwood, and Elkford, and potentially international visitors that may embark on long distance trail pursuits, to be exposed to the impressive amenities that await them. Construction contracts for six separate trail sections are presently underway. Changes to the routing of the Mountain Walk Trail north of Elkford will be welcomed for easier access. The Coal Discovery Trail connecting Sparwood to Fernie is undergoing major upgrades to improve accessibility, trail grades, signage and surfacing. The Coal Creek Heritage Trail component of the Elk Valley Trail has been constructed above the old Fernie landfill site. This trail connects to the Montane Trail system across Coal Creek, with a further 8.5 km of trail being constructed to the south of Fernie. Trailhead signage kiosks will begin appearing along the corridor, that provide route mapping, and local attraction information.

Our volunteer trail maintenance Thursday night work parties have seen a huge increase in participation, allowing for some major trail improvements to take place over the last year. This change in cooperative participation and attitude we can hope is a result of everyone’s awareness of the achievements of the FTA over the years. Or it may be a result of the charismatic, dedicated trail construction and maintenance volunteer, or maybe just the FBC post work beers. Either way we are grateful for the efforts of this group. We look forward to this continuing engagement in the years to come.

The Fernie Trails Alliance has seen many changes in the board demographic. With some of the original members still providing valuable guidance, and the introduction of some more youthful members that have a fresh outlook on trail user expectations, and maintaining the overall enthusiasm. We need to give a shout out to our manager, new treasurer and bookkeeper for keeping us on track.