Reliable skiing in British Columbia starts at 4000'. Fernie is more susceptible to rain then most B.C. resorts. A typical storm pattern brings big volumes of snow but then often turns to rain by the second or third day. A friend of mine told me that it took him 10 visits to Fernie for him to finally hit it right, but then it was fabulous. Fernie's brochure says that they get 30 feet of snow annually, but it also says that after the first 20 minutes after buying a lift ticket they will give you a voucher for another day if you are not happy with the conditions. They don't say so but, THIS IS A RAIN CHECK VOUCHER.
Fernie can also get quite busy on weekends and holidays due to skiers from Calgary showing up.
Island Lake Lodge is one of the oldest and best known cat skiing operations in Canada. A Ski mag article that i read a few years ago stated that Island Lake Lodge had some of the steepest runs of all the cat operations that the article writer went to. Retallack which borders Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park (near Kaslo, north of Nelson), had the most amount of steep runs.
I've skied Retallack--bring your A-game. When I was there in mid February in an average or slightly below average snow year the settled base at the top was 8 feet. Top elevation: 8500', bottom elevation 4000' although like most cat skiing places, runs are usually 1500 to 2000 vertical. When I was at Retallack it did not snow the week before I arrived and only snowed 1inch during the 4 days I was there. On most of the runs the snow was boot top to knee deep and the only tracks we crossed were our own.
If it was me, I would wait till mid January until I'd go cat skiing just to be sure of lots of snow.