Delay for east entrance project

Council puts off funding a roadside pullout at Cranbrook's east entrance

City council decided to pull back on a roadside pullout proposal put forward by the Highway 3/95 Revitalization Committee. The committee recommended giving the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) the go-ahead to develop a new highway pullout at the east entrance of town, near the welcome sign.

MOTI has $80,000 set aside for the pullout, but would leave the rest up to the city to pay – which city staff estimated could be as high as $200,000 to $300,000.

Coun. Bob Whetham doubted the city was ready to do a project like this.

“As much as I’d like to see entrance improvements on the eastern approach to Cranbrook, I really question whether we have the wherewithal to do it at this time,” Whetham said.

“The funding support from the ministry would be very attractive, but what would our contribution have to be at this point? And where would we find the funds to do it? So as much as I’d like to see it, I don’t think I can support it.”

Coun. Diana J. Scott didn’t support the recommendation either.

“I’d love to see a new sign, but I certainly have a lot of concerns about a new pullout,” she said, noting that the Chamber of Commerce is just a couple of blocks away. “In the end it’s monetary as well. It’s nice to know the ministry would give us some funds for this, but I don’t think we’re at this point yet and I think we need to do a lot more thinking before we consider something like this.”

Coun. Denise Pallesen agreed with the other councillors.

“It’s not in our current five-year planning, though MOTI does have some funds,” Pallesen said. “It’s exactly one kilometre from that sign to where the chamber would be offering a duplicate service.”

She suggested seeing if MOTI would put some funding into the area behind Lordco, near the chamber.

“I don’t have a problem with us replacing our sign, but I think it’s nice looking, it’s always neat and tidy, the grass is always mowed,” she said. “I would rather see more funds put into the chamber at some point if there is an appetite to expand on the east entrance.”

Coun. Sharon Cross suggested that since this is outside city boundaries, and if MOTI wanted to move ahead, maybe the RDEK would fund the pullout.

Mayor Wayne Stetski noted that the city wouldn’t likely have the money to do the project right away.

“I think we’ll have a discussion when this comes to the 2014 budget as to whether this is something we want to pursue or not,” Stetski said.

He explained that the committee went and looked at the area and decided that having a highway pulloff at that location would be a good idea.

“They are talking about a picnic area, signage – a ‘Welcome to Cranbrook’ sign – but it would be run basically as a highway pulloff,” Stetski said. “They (MOTI) have money to contribute towards highway pulloffs in their budget, but that’s it.”

He said the committee had put thought into expanding the truck stop safety area just up the road, but MOTI replied that it’s illegal to turn left across the double solid line, so in order to make the pullout there, they would have to build something similar to the Gladstone Provincial Park turnoff at Christina Lake.

“You have to come in off the highway, around and back in,” he said. “Those are very expensive options.”

The mayor said he thought the pullout at the sign is a good concept, but said the city doesn’t have the money to do it now.

The recommended motion was defeated, but the mayor put forward another motion to defer any decisions to the 2014 budget discussions, which passed.