After serving eight years in the mayoral seat, incumbent Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt is seeking another term in the upcoming local government election.
Pratt said his decision to seek another term was rooted in continuing the work to build out a long-term vision for Cranbrook.
“We have really good momentum going right now with the development community and some of the businesses and the economic opportunities that we’re working on, so I would like to stick around and see if we can’t bring those to fruition over the next four years,” Pratt said.
Addressing affordable housing and ongoing challenges around homelessness and crime are a key priority, said Pratt, adding that he has been working with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, Metis Association, BC Housing and others.
Discussions for complex care services are also ongoing, he said, speaking from the annual Union of British Columbia Municiaplities (UBCM) convention in Whistler, as local governments across the province are all wrestling with similar issues.
“I personally am very sympathetic to the whole situation and the frustrations of the business community and the citizens is front and centre,” Pratt said. “We’re doing what we can within the rules and laws established by the provincial and the federal government, but I can tell you, we’re not alone in that.”
Fixing the underlying infastructure on Victoria Avenue and downtown revitalization are two key priorities for the immediate future, as Pratt teased there are some interested parties in doing “major” downtown investments.
Pratt won his first mandate in 2014 pledging to fiscal responsibility, economic development and fixing the city’s infrastructure, and was acclaimed for a second term four years later.
Pratt singled out a few notable items while reflecting on his last eight years in office.
Shifting the city’s budgeting process from a wants-based to needs-based system, as each department leader presents a business case to council each budgeting season, has helped enable clearer fiscal management, Pratt said.
Over the years, the city has poured millions of dollars into infrastructure work, both on roads and underlying services that have needed replacement or updating, he added.
But it’s not just the infrastructure work itself — it was how it was tendered out to enable local contractors to bid for those projects, Pratt said.
“I promised the local contractors that we would try to get the work to stay in Cranbrook, so we separate the jobs into smaller portions. So that helped our local contractors but it was also a big economic boom for the city.”
Pratt also referenced the booming construction values, as the city saw $93 million dollars in 2020, which was notably led by the 292-unit project by Broadstreet Properties on Innes Avenue.
“In the last eight years, we’ve built over 500 doors of various types and we have right now about 900 in the queue,” Pratt said.
Pratt, a longtime Cranbrook resident, previously spent 25 years in automotive industrial sales, and 18 years in financial services before retirement and pursuing local elected office.