As we approach the public hearings for the Galloway Lands zoning application, scheduled on May 3rd and 4th, 2023, we are contacting people in the community, many of whom we have spoken to about the project over the last year. Numerous changes to the original application from 2022 have been made in response to engagement with interested parties. This has been a constructive process which has resulted in several key improvements to the proposal. Following are the issues identified through public engagement and the solutions we have implemented.
1. Vehicular Access – Previously, the main access road was through the ski hill, specifically through Boomerang Way and Snow Pine Drive. Residents of the ski hill opposed this. It was also the opinion of many that the increased traffic on Fernie Ski Hill Road from Highway 3 would create additional traffic risk and congestion.
Our revised proposal has moved the primary access road to a connection with Lizard Frontage Road to provide access to the property without the need to access through the ski hill. We have also agreed to provide members of the public access to our proposed road system for emergency access and egress.
This solves two problems: the traffic through the ski hill road system and the provision of emergency access and egress.
Additionally, we have proposed to provide a corridor through Galloway Lands to complete the connection of the Valley Trail from Fernie to the ski hill.
2. Utility Connections – Our original proposal utilized wells and septic fields for the acreage lots in the project. This was concerning to many due to its perceived potential to produce degradation of the watershed, particularly Lizard Creek.
Our revised proposal provides water and sewerage connections to the facilities operated by Fernie Alpine Resort Utility Corporation. They will also provide fire flow to our hydrant system for fire protection within the Galloway project.
3. Conservation of Environmental Values – During our previous public engagement last year, questions were posed relating to the proposal’s impact on key environmental assets within the lands upon which the project is proposed. The key areas of concern related to:
- Water quality protection, and in particular, Lizard Creek.
- Habitat protection for aquatic species, particularly the Westslope Cutthroat and Bull Trout.
- Old-growth Forest protection in the Lizard Creek corridor.
- Migration corridor preservation for key animal species, including bears and ungulates.
In response to these concerns, we retained Cascade Environmental Resource Group Ltd. to complete an Environmental Overview Assessment. The report’s purpose was to create a catalogue of environmental assets on the property and provide an opinion as to the extent to which those values would be negativelyimpacted by our proposal. The report went on to make recommendations as to how to minimize the degradation of the environmental assets with specific protocols to be implemented throughout the development process. Virtually all those recommendations have been included in the proposed Development Agreement with the Regional District of East Kootenay. Significantly, we have agreed to prepare an Environmental Management Plan to govern all project activities. It also creates a role for an environmental monitor whose responsibility will be to ensure compliance with the Environmental Management Plan.
The general conclusion of the report was captured in the following excerpt:
“Based on the information reviewed, the Galloway Lands appears to be suitable for the proposed development provided that potential adverse impacts arising from construction and operation are mitigated following the strategies and general recommendations described in this report. In addition, the Environmental Overview Assessment has identified several environmental opportunities and constraints. The opportunities and constraints discussed in this report should be considered by the proponent if the development proceeds.”
Of note is the fact that the proposal completely protects Lizard Creek with a buffer that exceeds all provincial standards. The proposal sets aside 232 acres of land, representing 51% of the total land size area, for parkland and environmental stewardship.
4. Public Trail Access – Concerns were expressed in last year’s public debate about the potential for the public to be prevented from accessing the lands for recreational purposes. Specific user groups withwhom we have engaged include the Fernie Nordic Society, Fernie Trails Alliance and the Fernie SnowValley Community Association.
In response to this concern, we have applied for subdivision to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure in October of 2022 to allow us to create the Conservation / Recreation Lands parcel. Thisparcel is identified in our rezoning application as designated PG-4 or Parkland. It is our commitment to convey the Conservation / Recreation Lands to a conservation organization to allow them to manage those lands in a manner consistent with the combined objectives of providing environmental stewardship to the lands while balancing public access through use agreements with community groupssuch as the Fernie Nordic Society and Fernie Trails Alliance.