Once or twice a year, Cranbrook and Kimberley councils meet up for an informal joint council meeting to discuss issues that affect both communities.
Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski took some time last week to talk about what came out of the joint meeting held Nov. 18.
Doctor and nurse recruitment was a concern high on the list, especially in Cranbrook where there are no walk in clinics and long wait-lists for finding a family doctor. At the Hospital District Board meeting a few weeks ago, Interior Health suggested that Cranbrook and area have the correct allocation of doctors within the parameters of their formula for the region.
“Our concern is that there are still a number of people in both Cranbrook and Kimberley that can’t get a regular family doctor yet,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to try to work on over time.”
There were also concerns about the shortage of childcare workers in Cranbrook. The issue was brought up in a recent council meeting. Kimberley hadn’t encountered the issue to the same extent, said Stetski.
“There is a concern that we could potentially have a problem with people turning down the opportunity to come to Cranbrook if they can’t find adequate childcare,” he said.
They also talked about urban wildlife, with the focus on deer. Stetski has been in the process of talks with Fish and Wildlife officials in Victoria and the Minister of Lands, Forests and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson. In the summer, mayor and council met with Minister Thomson at the UBCM and talked about putting together a task force to look at the problem of urban wildlife and potentially make recommendations on changes to the Wildlife Act.
“Currently a cull is the only tool that the province provides us to manage urban deer,” Stetski said, adding that they would prefer to have other tools available.
The cost of sharing of paving or chip sealing equipment was also discussed. Staff of both cities will be looking into whether arrangements like that are possible.
“For example if a community decides to purchase a piece of paving equipment, could it be purchased jointly and then shared?” he said.
Cranbrook staff is looking at chip sealing as a means to balance road maintenance against the associated costs. Asphalt would then still be used for the main roads, but it is considerably more expensive than chip sealing.
“There’s no one locally who does it, so we’d have to bring someone in from outside of the region,” he said. “So it would make sense if we could join with Kimberley, perhaps even Fernie, Elkford and Sparwood.”
That would in turn save taxpayers money, he said.
“We do anticipate we’ll have the standard $3 million we’ve had in the past for our streets and road budgets, and we’re hoping to turn that into $10 million through federal government grants,” he said, adding that the 2nd Street South and Moir park improvements could potentially be done without without costing taxpayers more than current levels.
At the joint council meeting they also talked about the Canadian Rockies International Airport. The airport has been awarded $8.5 million in grants from Transport Canada for improvements to the airport. They also anticipate a four per cent increase in passengers this year compared to last. Which means passenger traffic has been going up steadily for last three years.
The joint councils also discussed parking at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.
Stetski doesn’t want to see parking fees at the hospital become a revenue generating opportunity. One potential option is to get rid of the issues with the current timed paid parking and replace it with a system where you take a ticket and then pay when you leave.
Both Cranbrook and Kimberley contribute funding to Northstar Rails to Trails. The society is now up and running. Residents can adopt a portion of the trail.
“If people want to take a kilometre of the trail and make sure garbage is picked up and that the clover is cut back, they can do that as volunteers,” he said.
Sunrise Rotary Club also contributed $4,000 through the Gran Fondo event for the trails.
“(The trail) is an exceptional addition to our region, both from a regional perspective and a tourism perspective moving ahead,” he said. “We’re very appreciative of the work that the society is doing.”