Quietly nestled deep into the Elk Valley, surrounded by the arching peaks of some of the world’s most beautiful mountain ranges, Fernie is a little piece of heaven.
“I fell in love with it, the moment I saw it,” says Jolanda Redeker, who moved from Calgary a year ago.
She had been commuting on weekends to visit her boyfriend, Joe Bjorkman, who at the time was living in Cranbrook, B.C. But the separation was taking its toll.
“Joe and I were looking for a community where we could settle down long-term,” she recalls.
This young couple – he is 34 and she is 27 – wanted a slower pace of life, with a connected, dynamic and outdoorsy vibe, where they could raise a family. In addition, the go-getting duo wanted a place where they could focus on their careers. Jolanda is real estate broker in the process of opening her own brokerage house – First Choice Realty — and Joe works in plant operations for Teck Mining Co.
And they found the jackpot in Fernie and in particular in a vibrant new 243-hectare master-planned community, Montane, located just a short and scenic five-minute stroll from the funky restaurants and coffee shops housed in brick-clad buildings on the town’s historic main street.
Montane presents a feast for the senses from hectares of unspoiled land with views across to snowcapped peaks, to a brand new 10-kilometre mountain biking, running and cross-country ski trail that winds around the property in a giant loop. The last leg of the trail was completed less than two weeks ago, to many hurrahs by the locals and recreation homeowners alike. An integral part of Montane’s appeal, the trail’s conception and design is a joint venture between Parastone Developments, the developer of Montane, and the Fernie Trail Alliance.
“I wanted this trail to be user-friendly,” says Simon Howse of Parastone Developments. “Most of the trails in Fernie are designed for really experienced bikers. My 10-year-old is the litmus test. If she can do it, then everyone can,” he says.
Sustainability is at the core of the development, which is centred around a 100-year-old barn that was used to house the mine’s coal pit ponies at the turn of the 19th century.
“The barn is sacred. It’s the precedent setting vision for all of Montane,” says Howse.
Future plans include a large orchard and community garden where residents can get their hands dirty and grow their own food and tend to flocks of chickens, plucking fresh eggs and harvesting organic greens and juicy apples.
“The farm will have an educational component,” says Howse, adding that in today’s world it is so important for people to connect to the land and to their food, especially children. “So many young kids have no idea where it comes from.”
Buyers can get as involved in the farm as they wish – they can simply collect a basket of fresh produce every day, or they can have their own plot of land, tilling the soil and communing with nature.
Howse says that the Montane community garden will be a three-tiered system with amenity costs hovering around $500 annually per household.
“I’m not much of a gardener, but I love the idea of a community garden,” says Jolanda. “But I hope I can learn how to grow my own food, because we love to cook and everyone knows that fresher is better.”
Armed with a strong design vision (Jolanda is passionate about interior design), the couple is actively searching out an architect and builder to create their mountain dream home.
“We are currently looking at our options, but definitely plan on using local companies,” says Jolanda.
The two-storey home with walk-out lower level will embrace a mountain-modern theme with stone and timber frame accents. Outdoor terraces, floor-to-ceiling windows and a second-level loft space overlooking the two-storey great room are a few features that will capitalize on the stunning scenery. “We want to be able to enjoy an amazing view from anywhere in the house,” she says.
Everything about Montane will unfold organically, from small pods of home sites (there will be 140 lots in total) released over several phases, to the grass-roots fuelled community garden and on-site craft brewery (yes, that’s in the plans, too). The property is flanked by Coal Creek and straddles Brewery Creek, the site of Fernie’s first local brewery founded in the early 1900s – it has long since closed its doors, just waiting for an infusion of new energy and life.
Adding to the selection of single-family lots, Parastone recently launched a collection of contemporary cottages, starting with four two-storey, 1,000-square-foot homes with large terraces and beautiful, sweeping mountain views.
“We’ve taken a mountain modern design approach to create comfortable and inviting homes,” says Catherine Chernoff, the Calgary-based architect behind The Cottages at Montane. Chernoff is no stranger to the subtle nuances of mountain esthetic and has aptly created design magic throughout the town of Fernie, most notably for her design of the Brickhouse Bar and Grill. Her talent embraces a gentle sensitivity to the landscape while infusing depth and texture with rich materials. Cottage buyers will be able to choose from a selection of designer palettes integrating contemporary, mountain-themed colours and finishes.
Howse says that Parastone is set to break ground on the cottages in early November with occupancy slated for summer of 2016. Prices start in the mid-$300,000s, including home and strata title.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
DEVELOPER: Parastone Developments
PRICE: Lot prices start at $163,900 and range upwards to $259,000, not including taxes. Mountain modern cottage homes with strata title start in the mid-$300,000s.
INFORMATION: To register and for more information www.montanefernie.ca/register/.