Cranbrook to extend a warmer welcome

The south-west entrance to Cranbrook will be spruced up in the spring, using a $50,000 Columbia Basin Trust grant.

The south-west entrance to Cranbrook will be spruced up in the spring, using a $50,000 Columbia Basin Trust grant.

The City of Cranbrook’s entrance at Elizabeth Lake is poised to undergo significant improvements in the coming months, thanks to a grant of $50,000 from Columbia Basin Trust.

In December, Mayor Wayne Stetski told the Townsman the area was in need of a change, and he was hearing from travellers that signage needed to be looked at.

The CBT grant will go toward Phase 1 of the project, which includes site preparation and road/parking lot work, a new Cranbrook sign, construction of an information panel kiosk and a vehicle charging station. Work is expected to continue on Phase 1 with completion in late spring 2013.

“This is very exciting news,” Stetski said in a recent release. “The grant will help create a very welcoming and informative western entrance to our city and is important for tourism, business and the Elizabeth Lake environment. It is great to see Columbia Basin Trust supporting our vision for a better Cranbrook.”

The city struck a committee, called the Highway 3 Improvement Committee, which will look at ways to improve the highway’s passage through the city. A proper welcome sign was identified as a priority early on. Stetski promised in December that one would be coming soon.

“There’s going to be a spectacular welcome to Cranbrook sign there come spring,” he said.

And with the announcement of CBT funding, it will indeed happen in the spring.

“The updated entrance will greet visitors to Cranbrook and encourage them to stop, learn about and experience the city and the Elizabeth Lake wetlands,” said Jennifer Krotz, CBT Community Liaison. “This is a great example of the city working alongside community organizations in a collaborative way.”

The Highway 3 Improvement Committee will continue their work in 2013, looking at the entire strip from Elizabeth Lake to the overpass at the north end of town. The intent is to make the area more welcoming to visitors, whether they plan to stop in the city for a few hours, stay for a few days, or for those just passing through. The committee will look at art, landscaping, zoning and signage.

Stetski said the idea came to him when a mother with a young child pointed out that there is little to draw in families and encourage them to spend more time in the city. She asked if there could be a park, or perhaps directions or signage to a nearby park directing motorists driving through the city.

“I very much appreciate the work that CBT staff, especially Jennifer Krotz, contributed to this important project,” Stetski said.

The $50,000 in funding is a great start, but there are many more plans for the south-west entrance. The city will be applying for a CBT Environmental Initiatives grant in the future to assist in the completion of Phase 2, which includes landscaping, native plant gardens and picnic area.