City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Fernie creates rental zone in Castle Mountain neighbourhood

Community feedback had been robust

  • Feb. 23, 2021 12:00 a.m.

City of Fernie councillors have given third reading to re-zone a large lot in the Castle Mountain neighbourhood to a new rental zone.

The applicant – First Pac West Group – of the lot at 90 Castle Mountain Rd intends to develop market rental housing, which required the lot be re-zoned from the previously existing zoning of CD1 (which would allow resort accommodation) to R-5R (which is a new zoning allowing multi-family residential rental). No other R-5R zone exists within the municipality. It is a relatively new zone that only a handful of municipalities around the province have implemented.

Public feedback to the proposal to construct purpose-built long-term rental housing in the area had been robust, with 19 written submissions made to the City of Fernie. Four were in support, while 14 were in opposition. (The nineteenth submission requested additional information).

In working through a long list of concerns raised which included height, density, views, nature of the development, wildlife corridors, architectural merit, neighbourhood character, traffic, perceived lack of public consultation and conflict of interest, parking, infrastructure, walk-ability, and property value (among other things), manager of planning with the City of Fernie, Patrick Sorfleet said that the re-zoning was within the guidelines of the official community plan (OCP) in that it allowed for additional rental stock, and the density and height limits within the new zoning were comparable to the prior zoning of CD1. Sorfleet argued that other concerns raised with the proposed development were either within OCP and municipal guidelines, or beyond the City of Fernie’s control or purview.

During discussion, councillors voted to amend the maximum allowed height of any proposed development on the lot, lowering the height of allowed buildings from 20m to 14.5m. Councillors Hamilton and Pulsifer voted against the amendment, but the vote was unanimous in approving the re-zoning of the land.

The applicant had been supported during the first instance of the re-zoning coming before the council by the Fernie Chamber of Commerce, which wrote a letter of support for the proposed development and required re-zoning, with executive director of the chamber, Brad Parsell writing that “the lack of multi-family housing developments and affordable housing in our community has become a serious problem for the local business community in our efforts to attract and retain a stable workforce.”

The applicant plans to construct 72 rental units, with the intent to manage them itself. They will move ahead with planning the development in 2021.

READ MORE: Rental zone considered for new housing development in Fernie


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