Cranbrook and Kimberley city councils met on Tuesday night to discuss joint initiatives between the two communities.
The meeting was the first joint council meeting that the two cities have had since the new councils came onboard last election.
Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt said it has been in the works for a while and he has had meetings with Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick over the past year.
“Going back to square one, during the election Mayor McComick and myself introduced ourselves to each other and had a couple meetings,” Pratt said. “We decided then and there that what’s good for Cranbrook is good for Kimberley, and what’s good for Kimberley is good for Cranbrook. We decided that if we were elected we would lean towards working together in getting some activity going for the region that would be positive for both communities.”
Pratt said they decided it was time to introduce the councils to each other.
He noted that with Cranbrook being a new council and some new additions to Kimberley, the two councils didn’t really know each other.
Mayor McCormick said that there are a lot of common initiatives that the two communities share and are working towards.
“So staying on top of that and making sure we’re supporting it in the best possible way is really important,” McCormick said. “The meeting (Tuesday) night was the first one to kick that off.”
McCormick said the co-council meetings went back as far as the days Ross Priest was the mayor of Cranbrook and Jim Ogilvie was the mayor of Kimberley.
“They saw that given the communities were close together, we should be trying to work a little closer together. Unfortunately those meetings happened once a year and there wasn’t a lot of follow up and there wasn’t an awful lot of things on the agenda that warranted work moving forward.”
McCormick said he and Mayor Pratt have been working since the last election to figure out how the two communities can work much closer together for mutual benefit.
He said in the past the joint initiatives have had a tough time getting traction.
“Between Mayor Pratt and I, we are determined to make the regional collaboration thing work,” he said. “We have a number of initiatives underway.”
Pratt said the meeting consisted of information for the council members, as well as some details on initiatives he and McCormick have been working on that included the Industrial Advisory Committee and another Cranbrook-Kimberley development initiative.
“It’s in the very early stages right now but we just wanted to bring the councils up to speed on that and how it’s progressing,” Pratt said.
McCormick added: “Over time Kimberley and Cranbrook have really behaved on their own with respect to their own economic strategies. But we’re small communities — even Cranbrook is a small community, when you look at what the resources are to attract industry, and so the whole idea of pooling resources and coming up with a regional strategy for doing that is one that just makes sense — so that is one we’ve been trying to do for the past couple months.”
A delegation from North Star Rails To Trails was at the meeting to update the two councils on their progress.
“That was good because let’s face it, the Rails to Trails is both communities, so it was good for them to get both councils at once,” Pratt said.
McCormick said that Rails to Trails is a class A amenity that has become an attraction for tourists and locals who use it on a regular basis.
The trail cuts through three jurisdictions, Cranbrook, Kimberley and the Regional District of East Kootenay.
“The society that has been managing Rails to Trails has been struggling over the five years that it’s been open in terms of how to maintain it, how to kind of build the amenities on the trail and keep it up to date,” McCormick said.
The society has now come to the two cities asking for help and more funding.
Since then, the CAOs and representatives from the society in both cities have gotten together to figure out ways to take some pressure off the society.
“And come up with a plan to keep that thing a class A amenity,” he said.
At the meeting Tuesday, the councils were brought up to speed.
At the meeting Chris New, the director of Leisure Services, also gave a brief overview of the Kimberley Cranbrook 55+ Games.
“It’s very early in the planning stages for that too,” Pratt said. “He just let us know that first and foremost the emphasis is on Vernon. As soon as that is over we’ll get a lot more involvement with the directors and that of the 55+ Games committee to see where we’re going and what events are involved.”
“That’s a big endeavour, there’s going to be several thousand people coming into our communities for those games,” McCormick said. “We’re a couple years away right now — it is early days.”
The meeting also touched on the Resort Municipality Initiative.
Pratt said that while that was more focused on Kimberley, it was quite informative for he and council.
“I think that could be a target for us, to come up with some sort of initiative that our communities can get involved together on it and get a bigger share of the pie,” Pratt said.
Pratt said the feedback he’s heard from those in attendance was positive.
“It’s time that the two communities did get together and start working on common goals,” Pratt said. “We’re going to have another meeting sometime in the new year, and probably the discussion will be around two or three meetings a year.”
He said the discussions around the dinner before the meeting involved the usual pleasantries, but also the comon issues both municipalities face.
“We all have the same problems of course,” Pratt said.