After four years at the city council table, Wes Graham says there is more work to be done.
The first-term Cranbrook city councillor is running again in the upcoming municipal elections that will see 10 candidates vie for six spots in council chambers.
Graham, who served three terms with Creston town council, touted his time at the table and the planning that council led on the Idlewild dam rehabilitation and upgrading Cranbrook roads and infrastructure.
“The things I’m proud of is the Idlewild Dam,” said Graham. “That hit us right out of the gate and being able to get that project finished, 100 per cent funded by the province and the feds was a major win for us and allowed us to begin to do some park development up there.
“Another win was getting rid of the two-tier recreational costs for our neighbours in the Regional District, so it’s just one cost now to use the facilities and what that did was also allow them to invest in Idlewild, so I think fostering those partnership was huge.”
Even back in 2014, the refrain from many council candidates has been attracting business and new jobs to the area to foster economic development.
What does that look like?
“I think economic development is a way we can work with the business community to attract and retain businesses and keeping our taxes at a reasonable rate that doesn’t scare people away,” said Graham. “Also, another part of that is providing a stable investment platform so if you are building a new building, lets say, that you know up front what the costs are; you don’t find out halfway through the project and having to come back to the city to make changes.”
Graham says he wants to continue focusing on Cranbrook’s roads and infrastructure program, which has seen a $30 million boost following a lively community debate over borrowing $10 million through an alternative approval process.
However, Cranbrook does have a slew of issues that need to be addressed moving forward, namely housing, which consists of high rents, a tight vacancy rate and ever-increasing affordability costs.
“Housing is another big, hot topic issue and making sure that us, as a city, are doing everything that we can to facilitate ways to close the gaps that we see, said Graham. “…Working with developers and housing societies and other partners, tools that we have with variances, zoning changes and development permit areas, so those are some tools that we can use to hopefully help solve some of those problems.”
Graham says it will be up to the next council to work with those housing societies and lobby the provincial government for funding towards housing solutions. However, he says the next council also has the chance to look at some of the city’s land-use zoning designations, some of which was implemented decades ago and does not suit current needs.
If re-elected, he said he wants to be heavily involved in the pending Joseph Creek revitalization plans with the Columbia Outdoor School and project partners, which will see the entire waterway from Idlewild Lake to the ʔaq̓am community.
During his time on council, Graham has served on the Advisory Planning Commission, the Urban Deer Management Committee and as a municipal director for the Regional District of East Kootenay and Kootenay East Hospital District Board.
In his spare time, Graham volunteers with Connect Church and community events such as Canada Day celebrations and Sam Steele Days.