Mayor's Musings for February 2024—By Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford

By Tasha

Mayor's Musings for February 2024

by Steve Fairbairn, Mayor for the District of Elkford


Hello, Elkfordians! It's hard to believe that we're nearly half-way through February, but here we are.


Scholarship Opportunity

First off, sharpen your pencils because the timeline will be short by the time you read this: there is a scholarship opportunity for students who are interested in joining the coal industry after college or university! All the details are here:

Does this sound like you? I encourage you to apply!


Highway Maintenance

Winter highway maintenance is a hot topic, and an issue that council has identified as an advocacy priority. I have had one face-to-face meeting with both the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) and Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting. Discussions have been had regarding a weather station near Weigert Creek and a sand/brine station in Elkford (along with more sand application on the full width of the road north of Line Creek).

We can all help by reporting our respective winter highway concerns directly to Mainroad. Don’t post these on Elkford’s Bulletin Board, report them to Mainroad directly either by phone or maybe on their Facebook page to ensure the information is getting directly to the organizations responsible for said maintenance. Highway maintenance standards are developed by MoTI, who is also the branch of government responsible for ensuring that the contractor (Mainroad) is meeting the terms of their contracts, so this is important for us all to do if we want to see changes made.

Here is who to contact directly:

Mainroad East Kootenay Contracting
Phone: 1-866-353-3136 (24-hour hotline; leave a message!)
Email: (This leaves a paper trail!)

MoTI (Rocky Mountain District, based in Cranbrook)
Phone: 1-250-420-6550
Emails: District Manager, Hilary Barnett (
Acting Operations Manager, Erik Jamik (

On the topic of Highway 43 (and Highway 3), remember that highway users (that’s all of us) have a huge role to play in road safety. Slow down, back off and drive defensively—not aggressively. Learn to be a skilled, safe and patient driver. Allowing a few extra seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you will result in arriving at your destination a few extra seconds later, yes; but it also allows you to save money on vehicle maintenance, be more relaxed and be less likely to be in a collision. You just don’t know when the next critter will jump out of the ditch.

Every vehicle you feel the need to pass on the highway shortens your trip by approximately five seconds, plus a bit more because of your higher traveling speed. What’s the big rush? A race to beat them to the next traffic light perhaps?

Accessible Housing Info

Accessible housing—what does this term mean? How do you achieve this when the cost to build a box is higher than the market value of the completed box? How do you do that when developers don’t want their money tied up? When they aren’t interested in an income stream that is decades long?

You may be interested to know that building housing is not a core role of municipal government. Even before the various new rules from the provincial and federal governments, the District of Elkford took progressive steps to make it easier to densify properties, get permits and keep development costs low. Our land is inexpensive to begin with.

The District continues to search out and entertain developers and builders, and we will continue to explore new ways to support the building of homes for families in Elkford. I hope to have new and exciting news to share on this topic going forward!


Elk Valley Lodge—Stay Tuned for the Public Hearing Date!

You may have seen some news about the Elk Valley Lodge (also known as “the camp” or the “work camp”) on social media. Teck Resources Ltd. has applied for a zoning change for the land where the camp is located. The change in zoning is from agricultural to commercial, with the applicant’s intention to make the camp a permanent fixture in its current location.

Want to make your voice heard? The public will have their opportunity to express their opinion on Teck’s proposal by way of a legislated public hearing process. It is at this public hearing that you will be able to voice your support, opposition, concerns or ideas to council. Can’t make it to the public hearing? That’s okay, you will also be able to voice all those things through written submissions. Public input will inform council’s deliberations and decisions regarding the applicant’s proposal.

The date for the public hearing has not yet been set, so keep your eyes open as it will be advertised in the newspaper and on the District of Elkford website.


Cool Updates on Committees

Mark your calendar for April 11, 2024! Elkford is wild at heart—and we are passionate about finding ways to live in harmony with our local wildlife—and a whole committee was created that is dedicated to this mission. The District of Elkford’s Urban Wildlife Committee is hosting a free interactive wildlife education event. This event is going to include a BBQ, games, door prizes and cool activities like firing off some inert bear spray! You’ll also find out more about some exciting news: how Elkford is working toward being designated as a WildSafeBC community!

Being inclusive and finding ways to better accessibility in our community is another important thing on our minds in Elkford. Did you know that the Elk Valley Regional Accessibility Committee is up and running and has begun taking a collaborative approach to meeting and exceeding the provincial regulations on accessibility issues? On this committee, you’ll find municipal government staff representatives and volunteer representatives from each community—Elkford, Sparwood and Fernie—so we’re all working on this together.


Smells Like… Spring?

Finally, with spring soon springing warm weather upon us and increasing biological activity at the single-cell level, here is an update on the engineering plans for the sewer lagoons! You might think this is a crappy topic to end on (haha), but here’s the scoop:

We have new aeration equipment being built as I write these musings, and the new aeration equipment will be a floating system. In March, the system installation will have already begun! By the way, improved aeration may result in an initial period where odours become more pungent. Don’t panic—this is all part of the process of improving the system, and we are all hoping that it will “pass.”

A sludge survey will also be conducted this spring. We even have a new boat to do it with! 😉 Okay, that’s a joke, the proper methods will be used. Yeah, we know what should be in the sludge layer; but do we know the gory details? The survey will help us to determine how much needs to be dredged to optimize cell capacity and ensure the lagoons are operating effectively. In the meantime, we will continue to mitigate any odours as best as we can. Yes, we definitely do give a crap!

Sidebar, but the lift station across the highway from the lagoons is also being studied to determine lifespan and identify any potential future upgrades.


In Closing

Guess what!? It was tempting, but I’m not ending this on the topic of sludge. Your council continues to advocate for improved healthcare services and facilities in Elkford. You’ll be seeing activity in-and-around the healthcare centre building as Interior Health moves toward a more localized model of healthcare services delivery. Be curious as to where this is all leading!

It may still be winter, but boy does it feel like spring some days! Welcome to (early) spring, and thanks for reading all of this!

Yours sincerely,
Mayor Steve

What’s happening in Elkford?