Cranbrook mayor reflects on inaugural year

New mayor, council tackling road infrastructure, economic development and other issues over the last year.

It was a year of firsts for Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, who—along with a slate of rookie city councillors—have tackled many issues to start his four-year term.

As the year draws to a close, Pratt reflected on the accomplishments that city staff and council have made, while looking ahead to the challenges of 2016.

Noting that he—along with every single councillor who won a seat in the 2014 municipal election—was new to elected, Pratt singled out city staff for their patience in helping him and his colleagues to do their jobs.

“It was a huge learning curve for all of us,” Pratt said. “But we’ve learned a lot in the last year and certainly we had a lot of support from city staff answering our many questions and dealing with our inexperience.”

Immediately after the municipal election, the new mayor and council went into budget talks, where they canceled a $500,000 loan to the Cranbrook and District Arts Council for planned renovations to the old fire hall and slashed a tax increase from a projected 5.77 per cent to only 2.58 per cent without cutting city services.

That budget also included a one per cent dedicated road tax, as the city spent just over $3 million to fix up the road infrastructure and complete a asset report on the road and sewer networks of the city.

“We have an asset management plan, which is an inventory of all our roads and the services below them,” said Pratt. “So now we can prioritize which ones can be resurfaced and which ones require full infrastructure replacement.

Going forward, that will help us decide what roadwork we’re going to do and how much major work needs to be done and how much we can grind up and replace.”

On the topic of road repair, Pratt also noted the city picked up a new piece of equipment dedicated to pothole repair that did a lot of work on Cranbrook streets.

He added that it’s been useful because of the ability to send out one single city worker to fix one single pothole, rather than waiting for a particular stretch of road to get in bad shape, which requires a truck and crew of three workers.

“This way it’s a one-man operation, he can go in there and fix the pothole rather than wait for six or seven of them,” said Pratt.

Another big project that Pratt and council have been working on is an economic development partnership between Cranbrook and Kimberley.

The goal is to attract larger industries to the region, Pratt said.

“We’re targeting getting some industries to move here and we’ve got some good leads,” Pratt said, bringing up the purchase of the old Tembec properties by MGX Minerals. “We’ve already been in discussion with four different companies about locating here and three of them actually have synergies between them, so if we get the first one in, I think the other two will come in quicker.”

On Idlewild Lake, Pratt said the city is waiting on a grant application to get going on the replacement of the dam structure and a subsequent public consultation process.

Moving into 2016, the city is also in early stages of revitalizing the Joseph Creek waterway.

“We’re in the very early stages of rehabilitating Josephs Creek right from the dam down, making it a showcase for the city, which it once was and should be,” Pratt said.

Other housekeeping accomplishments include cleaning up old bylaws that don’t apply anymore and scrapping the two-tier recreation fees for city and out-of-town residents.

In the new year, the city is looking at extending the downtown revitalization tax bylaw to all businesses within Cranbrook, while council and staff are also looking to find ways to maximize the potential of Western Financial Place.

And, of course, infrastructure is always on the mind.

“We’re in budget talks right now, so we’re looking at a few areas where we can do more infrastructure work. It has to be done and we’ve got to get going on that. Of course it’s expensive, but it’s first and foremost on our budget talks,” Pratt said.

Though it’s been a whirlwind year for Pratt and the city council, everyone is rising to the challenge and doing their best to represent the best interests of Cranbrook.

“We’ve got quite a bit on the plate here, but we’ll take it as it comes,” Pratt said. “There’s always something that comes up during the year that we have to deal with. The council that we have now is very progressive-minded and that helps, so we just got to get the message out there to the rest of the world that we’re open for business and come talk to us.”

 

Just Posted

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

1914
It happened this week in 1914

June 13 - 19: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the archived newspapers… Continue reading

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

If implemented, the regulations would restrict all e-cigarette flavours except tobacco, mint and menthol

Most Read