Engagement, Participating and Showing Up

One of the parts of this job that I absolutely love is always being present and ready to speak to a number of issues that are impacting our community. I don’t want to imply it is easy, or that there are guaranteed outcomes when you lean into issues but that by being a part of the conversation is how we collectively continue to design the environment for which we live.

This week I attended a stakeholder engagement session at the request of the Ministry regarding the Private Forest Managed Land Program with Director of Planning, Bruce Lennox. The facilitators started out by echoing the exact phrasing Minister Donaldson delivered last month, that the Province is committed to improving the social license of forestry, to build a thriving forestry sector while maintaining resilient communities in BC’s interior.

Council will continue to advocate around this issue by completing the online survey as a government and to continue looking for support for our resolution that moved successfully through the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Government calling on the Province to support local governments request to align the Private Managed Forest Land Program to the standards set out in the Crown forest land regulations, and to undertake consultations with us when landowners undertake the disposition of land adjacent to our communities.

If the social license to continue to practice forestry is a priority of the government, I certainly hope that special attention is applied to how forestry in and around resort communities sometimes feels adjacent to the Federal Government announcing a Federal Tourism Growth Strategy which is designed to bolster and grow our tourism sector. Or, the Province’s recent announcement of investing $10.5 million in the 14 resort communities -which includes Fernie - for projects that enhance local tourism infrastructure and amenities.

Forestry or any resource economy doesn’t need to compete with recreational values in resort communities, the two can blend perfectly. We know that here in Fernie we have been enjoying the privilege of riding, running and skiing through privately owned lands for as long as we have been riding in Fernie. That relationship is what makes us so unique.

I plan on showing up and being an advocate for building healthy relationships that work for Fernie with all of our stakeholders because that is what creates a healthy culture.

Building resilient communities requires participation, Fernie turned out a 67% electoral participation rate and many of you continue to show up to build our community as volunteers for events and festivals.

The process for which government looks for feedback might feel slow and hard to move, or unfamiliar, but the people who participate are having the most influence.

I plan on rolling up my sleeves on your behalf in my advocacy role, and I hope you will join me. Fill out online surveys that the City of Fernie issues, come to public hearings, engage with all levels of government on issues you feel important. Fill out a request for service. Call in a bylaw issue.

Healthy and resilient communities need a diverse economy, I will never say otherwise, but how we intersect with one another is where the magic is. If you are invited, I hope you will join the conversation. Participating is the first step. We will be stronger and healthier as a community if you do.

Footnote: Fernie’s Resolution: