Sunday • July 23, 2017
Tourism is as an economy derived from the spending of non-residents within a community they are staying, whether for leisure or business.
Although there have been variations on what ‘distance’ someone lives from a community to be considered a ‘tourist’, it really is as close as the next town, such as Sparwood, Cranbrook or the Crowsnest Pass.
Based on this, would many of Fernie’s 2nd Homeowners who use their property on a part-time basis and have a permanent residence outside of Fernie be considered part of Fernie’s Tourism Economy? The answer is yes. They would be categorised as ‘Residential Tourists’ as per a research project titled ‘Understanding and Managing the Effects of Residential Tourism on Quality of Life in Fernie’ conducted by local Jeff Zukiwsky in 2009 as part of a province-wide initiative conducted through the Centre for Tourism Policy and Research at Simon Fraser University.
The research project surveyed 2nd homeowners in Fernie and determined that they stayed in Fernie an average of 65 nights per year and were primarily from Alberta. Why did they purchase property in Fernie? The top 7 reasons were: natural scenery, proximity to ski resort, healthy environment, high quality of life, mountain culture, small town atmosphere and hiking trails. Of the 2nd homeowners within the municipality of Fernie, the research project survey also determined that annual visitation was estimated at 3,557. In a separate analysis by Tourism Fernie as part of the Value of Tourism Study, 2nd homeowners outside of Fernie municipal boundaries increased this annual visitation number to approximately 6,107.
What dollar value is the 2nd homeowner in Fernie to our community and our tourism economy? The true amount is hard to confirm without a massive amount of money and resources to conduct a full study, however, based on some of Jeff’s findings and those from Tourism Fernie’s Value of Tourism Study, it is estimated that 2nd homeowners, in general visitor spending alone, inject at least $16 million dollars per year into our community. This does not even include the dollars spent on purchasing the property, building a property, renovating it, paying property taxes, purchasing larger items in Fernie for their use, whether for their home or recreational purposes, etc.
In 2016, based on property tax roll data in Fernie, 34% of properties are owned by non-residents. In the area surrounding Fernie just outside of municipal boundaries (including the Ski Resort), RDEK data states that 50% are owned by non-residents. RDEK also states that the average assessed value of those properties is $442,934. In the City of Fernie the average assessed value is $451,000. As per an article in the Fernie Free Press last January by Ezra Black, “…the value of an average single-family residential property is higher in the City of Fernie than anywhere else in the Kootenay Columbia region.” This situation is brought not only by the tourism economy but also because of the greater proportion of higher paying jobs available within the mining and other industry economies in and around Fernie compared to many other towns in the region.
There is no doubt that 2nd homeowners in and around Fernie are a significant part of our local economy and have been for a long time. They help to generate local jobs, year-round sustainability for our small businesses, enhancement of local amenities, tax dollars for local services and much more.
By Jikke Gyorki:
Jikke has a Bachelor of Commerce in Hospitality & Tourism Management from Ryerson University and has working in the tourism industry for 25 years. She has been the Executive Officer at Tourism Fernie since 2010, and her husband works for Teck at Fording River. They have two young children. Jikke can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org