Baker Street in downtown Cranbrook. Trevor Crawley photo.

Cranbrook looks to create a master plan for future of downtown core

City staff is eyeing a master plan to help city council and administration visualize the future of Cranbrook’s downtown core.

Council met with staff for a meeting on Monday, where senior planner Rob Veg presented the timeline for a year-long project that will provide a comprehensive development plan for the future of the downtown area.

“We know we’re going to be tearing up the roads to be doing infrastructure, so we’re going below-ground anyways, start to look at above-ground,” Veg told council. “We’re seeing new development pressures and new development forms being considered for downtown. The whole city is changing, but in particular we’re talking to interested parties who are looking at things like breweries, hotels, much more intensive land use.”

The downtown master plan would complement another important community document — the Official Community Plan — that takes a community-wide look at land use policies and is set for review.

Once the downtown master plan is completed, staff is hoping to use it to leverage senior levels of government for grant funding, both for above- and below-ground projects, as there is planned infrastructure work needed particularly for Baker St. and Eighth Ave. S. in the coming years.

Improving underlying infrastructure matters for larger scale developments such as a hotel, or downtown residential concepts, in terms of ensuring that infrastructure can accommodate any proposed development or land uses.

Veg pointed to example communities such as Sandpoint and Grande Prairie, which completed downtown master plans to guide development.

“What this process would do is allow us to look at that,” said Veg. “That would be one of the first things you’d do, is build a vision. What do you want downtown to be like? Do we want a theme, or do we want to just come up with ideas and concepts that are a little bit more organic, more free-flowing, but then we have guidelines to help contain what development would look like?”

Staff is seeking council’s approval for funding for the downtown master plan, which will come from a downtown parking reserve. Pending approval from council at an upcoming regular meeting, staff will issue a request for proposal to get a consultant on board, with hopes of having a completed plan by early 2022.

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