Baker St. in Cranbrook. Trevor Crawley photo.

Baker St. in Cranbrook. Trevor Crawley photo.

Downtown revitalization master plan well underway

Creating vibrancy, bringing more people and business into the downtown core, promoting redevelopment and building an identity are all goals of Cranbrook’s downtown revitalization master plan.

City council recently received an update from Jessica Karpat, a consultant with QuantumPlace Developments, who is developing the master plan.

A number of themes and directions came from public feedback and a stakeholder advisory group, according to Karpat’s presentation. A few items included targeting mixed use within a focused area of downtown, leveraging heritage and culture to bring people downtown, intensifying residential uses, utilizing Baker Street as a focal point, and re-examining Highway 3 and it’s relationship to downtown connectivity.

Developing residential use in the downtown has long been a priority for city council, however, infrastructure capacity hurdles have impeded any large-scale development in the past.

That being said, Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt teased a significant development is currently on the drawing board.

“I can share this with you…there is a project in the works right now that is a six or nine storey commercial residential building planned for downtown,” Pratt said, during discussions.

In terms of specific downtown core development challenges, there are a lack of downtown fire hydrants needed for high-density residential uses and a laundry list of required infrastructure capacity upgrades.

Approximately 57 per cent of the water distribution network is identified for upgrades, while 40 per cent of sanitary mains need upgrades and close to the entirety of the storm network is identified for upgrades.

However, those infrastructure upgrades come with a hefty price and presents a dilemma for city council and administration.

Namely, does the city plow forward on replacing and upgrading it’s aging downtown infrastructure first, and lay the groundwork necessary for downtown redevelopment? Or wait for development proposals to come online, and bundle up infrastructure upgrades as needed?

Either way, the infrastructure replacement and upgrade costs will likely run into the millions.

Challenges for downtown development or revitalization also include finding appropriate mixed uses, creating a focused area in the downtown for revitalization and exploring policy that would encourage and incentivize redevelopment.

Mayor and council also kicked around some more niche items about the plan, such as how to encourage businesses to stay open on the weekend to attract pedestrian traffic in the downtown core or managing downtown parking. For reference, there are 800 parking spots on downtown core streets and 300 elsewhere.

Next steps for the plan includes narrowing down a vision, proposing three concept variants, holding another advisory meeting for feedback on concepts, all before drafting a master plan.