Trails and Public Use

Summary and Recomendations

Currently the Galloway lands see substantial public use. A network of unsanctioned trails exist throughout the site and is used for a variety of recreational uses including walking, hiking, snowshoeing, and mountain biking. The Fernie Nordic Society’s use is sanctioned under a limited agreement with the current landowner. These summer and winter trails currently generate an estimated 40,000 unique visits per year.

The development vision and commitment for the Galloway Lands includes the ongoing and expanded public use of these lands forever. The development is an opportunity to formalize the use and maintenance of publicly accessible trails within the Galloway Lands. While changes to existing trails will in some cases be unavoidable, the continuity and quality of trails within the Galloway Lands is important to the success of the development and its integration into the community.

Trail maintenance is equally as important as the initial construction of trails. We are proposing the establishment of an independent trust/society that will manage, enhance, and protect the publicly accessible trails and related infrastructure within the Galloway Lands. Funding for the construction and maintenance of the trail and infrastructure will be provided through a charge being assessed on the sale of each parcel within the development. Working with the Fernie Nordic Society and Fernie Trails Alliance, we are committed to ensuring the trails be well maintained and available for public use in perpetuity.

Questions and Answers

We take your questions seriously and have addressed all of them prior to moving forward with our next project submission. 

Our intentions are to serve the community and the environment to the highest standard with transparency and accountability.

See our answers to your Trails and Public Use questions here:

  1. Will continued public access be permitted? 

Yes. Currently, it is important to note that there is no formal arrangement permitting long-term access to these private lands. We are committed to formalizing ensured public access to the property and the trail system and to further develop the existing trail system.

The Galloway Lands are enjoyed by Fernie residents and visitors to access the Nordic ski trails, bike trails and walking trails. We estimate that in 2021 in excess of 40,000 individual users utilized the property for some form of recreational activity. Every year, a similar number use it as both a destination and as part of a larger inter-connected trail network providing access to Fernie Alpine Resort, The Cedars community, and Mount Fernie Provincial Park.

To ensure long-term access we propose a binding legal covenant to permit public access to large parts of the lands. The proposed covenant will permit the public the right to pass by foot, ski, snowshoe or bicycle over those lands zoned CG-2 and those lands where a statutory right of way has been registered for public access over a private lot (including the Nordic ski loop). This covenant, registered in favour of the RDEK, would permit on-going public access to over 50% of the property and all trails. The proposed covenant would be similar to the covenant registered over the Island Lake Lodge property in favour of the Regional District of East Kootenay.

2. Will the Nordic trails be maintained?

Yes. It is our goal to maintain as much of the existing Nordic trail network as possible. Where we cannot maintain a small, existing portion of the Nordic trail, we will construct new Nordic trails to preserve the connectivity and the experience. We are committed to providing a continuous loop trail, including provision of tunnels under the proposed roads, to ensure that the Nordic ski experience is retained. We also intend to provide a statutory right-of-way over the ski trail lands to ensure public access in perpetuity. It is our goal to enter into an agreement with the Fernie Nordic Society to continue to improve tenure and ensure continuity of use of the trail network.

3. Will the mountain bike trails be maintained? 

Yes. It is our goal to maintain a meaningful and robust mountain bike trail network. We recognize that more of the mountain bike network than the Nordic trail network is being disturbed with future development. We intend to work with a professional trail designer and local trail builders to inventory and assess the existing trails and to develop a trails master plan that utilizes the lands available. Some existing trails will be lost, but we believe that there is plenty of opportunity for a varied and exciting trail network. The existing mountain bike trails on the property are focused on higher elevation lands. It is our intention to reroute the trails prior to commencement of development. This may be on a phased basis as development proceeds over the life of the project.

4. Will the trails to Highline Drive and the ski hill be retained? 

Yes.  The trails providing access from Highline Drive and the ski hill to the Galloway Lands are just as important to the future residents of the Galloway Lands as they are to their current users. We believe that connectivity to Fernie Alpine Resort – whether by car, walking, biking, Nordic skiing or alpine skiing – is one of the primary attractions to potential owners within the Galloway Lands. We may need to reroute some of the existing trails to avoid proposed homesite locations, but all efforts will be made to  ensure that these trails be made available for the general public and residents alike.

5. Has parking for trail users been considered within the Galloway Lands?

Yes. We are planning to develop a parking area within the Galloway Lands for use by trail users. We have identified an approximately 0.4 ha (1 acre) site centrally located within the property with access to the Nordic ski loop that is proposed for parking. This is preliminary only and will be refined as the final plans of subdivision are prepared.

6. How many spots are in the proposed parking lot? Could general public use this to access the Elk Chair at Fernie Alpine Resort? Who is the potential user [of the parking lot] and what is its purpose / Nordic and Trail system?

The proposed parking lot is intended for trail users, not day use skiers at Fernie Alpine Resort. Design consideration will include location for maximum utility which will be considered along with traffic flow issues.

7. Can you elaborate on the level of certainty for some of the elements expanded upon in the updated FAQ document, such as tunnels to avoid road crossings and the trail management fund? Would there be a scenario under which these elements would be not feasible? In other words, should the financial conditions change, what would be compromised?

The commitments made by the proponent are genuine and are intended to be part of the overall development plan. 

Nordic Ski Trail Tunnels – there are two tunnels required to pass under the proposed road network and ensure continuity of the Nordic skiing experience. We do not foresee a plan where these tunnels are not constructed. Simply, the option of the ski trails crossing over the road is not acceptable for many reasons. Tunnels are the only solution to ensure continuity of both the trail and road network. Nordic ski trail tunnels are neither a new idea nor difficult to maintain. For example, there are numerous tunnels and bridges at the Canmore Nordic Centre that ensure multi-purpose use of their trail system. 

Galloway Lands Recreation Fund – the proposed fund is intended to pay for ongoing maintenance of the trails and recreation amenities. We see implementation of this fund as a both a benefit to the future property owners and to the larger community. The fund will, essentially, ensure that the owners selling their homes are the ones financing the trails. The proposed fund does not cost the remaining owners anything and ensures that the trails are well maintained. It is a win-win for all involved. 

8. Assume the tunnels will be big enough to accommodate grooming equipment and drainage concerns.

We will engage at design to determine and ensure proper sizing.

9. What, if any, interruption to public trail access would be impacted during construction?

We will endeavour to avoid all interruptions to the trail network. We foresee no interruption to the Nordic Trail Network as winter construction would be avoided and all rerouting of the Nordic trails could be completed during summer months. We envision rerouting other trails (walking and mountain bike trails) prior to development of the lands. We would reroute the trails and decommission old trails before development within the area impacted based on the phasing and timing of the development. This ensures continued use of the trail system and safety of trail users to avoid conflicts with construction activities. It is possible that there will be short trail closures while work is undertaken but these will be as minimal as possible. 

10. Who will pay for new trails and trail maintenance?

We are proposing to establish a newly formed legal entity, such as a not-for-profit Society, funded by the sale of homesites and homes within the Galloway Lands, that will contribute to planning, construction and maintenance of Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, biking, and walking trails within the Galloway Lands, including connectivity to neighbouring properties as well as to conservation projects within the Galloway Lands. 

The Galloway Lands Recreation Fund will provide financial assistance for:

  • The design, construction, and maintenance of recreational walking trails, cycling trails, snowshoeing trails and Nordic skiing trails and associated amenities, buildings, and structures within the West Side Recreation Area. 
  • Conservation and environmental stewardship efforts within the Galloway Lands. 

The Fund shall be created from the sale of residential property within the Galloway Lands as follows:

  • The initial (first) sale of a Residential Lot shall be subject to a fee of 2% of the sale price to be contributed to the Fund by the Developer / Seller from the proceeds of the sale.
  • The subsequent sale of a Residential Lot shall be subject to a fee of 1% of the sale price to be contributed to the Fund by the Seller from the proceeds of the sale.

The Fund will be administered by a newly formed legal entity such as a not-for-profit Society registered in BC. This entity shall have a mandate that restricts use of the funds as outlined above. Governance will be administered by a seven (7) member board comprised of four (4) members that are owners of Residential Lots within the Galloway Lands or representatives of the owner of the Galloway Lands and three (3) members that are representatives of the board of the Fernie Nordic Society, the board of the Fernie Trails Alliance, the board of the Elk River Alliance or the elected official for Area “A” of the RDEK.

The goal of this fund is to ensure that the trail system within the West Side Recreation Area is designed, constructed and maintained to the highest standard in perpetuity.

11. Is there a plan for a ski lift?  

We have no plans for lift access on to Fernie Alpine Resort Property. This would need to be agreed with Fernie Alpine Resort.

12. What about Fernie Trails Alliance?

We have met with the Fernie Trails Alliance and have expressed our desire to work with them.

13. How would a cross country skier go from Fernie Alpine Resort to the Nordic trails (ideally staying on their skis the whole time)?

This will be the subject of a more detailed plan, with comprehensive consultation, that will unfold over several years as the trail system matures. The intent is that uninterrupted flow from Fernie Alpine Resort to the Nordic trails would be maintained at all times.

14. Will the number of users not increase dramatically if all the future plans for expanded trail networks realized?

That will depend on the design and demand. While there’s no way for us to predict future numbers, we are encouraging public use and would expect numbers to be similar to what the site currently hosts.

15. How many ski lifts are you proposing to build?

None.

16. Do you think there will ever be the possibility of some sort of ski lift or T-bar or magic carpet to have easier access to the ski hill?

We currently have no plans for any ski lift within the development but options to provide easier access are under consideration. Any ski lift accessing Fernie Alpine Resort lands would require an agreement with Fernie Alpine Resort.

17. Are fees being contemplated for access? 

No fees are proposed for access to the recreational lands. The access covenant proposed with the RDEK permits public access and does not include a provision for payment of fees for access. 

18. Was an avalanche assessment conducted?

An assessment was conducted for the development of the Elk Valley OCP. It does not designate this area as susceptible to avalanche hazard.

19. In addition to the Nordic trails, there are approximately a dozen mountain biking / hiking / snowshoe trails on the Galloway Lands. These trails see significant year-round usage and are an important part of the regional trail system. Based on the maps of the proposed development, all of these trails appear to be impacted, as significant sections of each trail will be on private home lots or paved over with roadways. I realize that the FAQ section of your website speaks to rerouting these trails, but that looks impractical based on the current layout of the development.  

Design of the trail system will require the involvement of suitable professionals as the design of the community proceeds. The objective is to not remove any trail until a suitable solution has been determined to either amend or continue its use.

It’s important to note that the current trails are largely unauthorized and as such are an accommodation to current users on private land. We are committed to ensuring public access in perpetuity as laid out above in Question 1.

Questions and Answers

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