Even though it doesn’t carry the pomp and circumstance of the U.S. State of the Union address, Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt provided an update on city business over the last year to members of the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
Key themes included economic development, budget processes, and infrastructure upgrades, specifically roadwork, that has been completed over the last year.
And, Pratt added that he is bullish on the future of the city.
“Cranbrook is facing great potential economically and socially, community-wide,” Pratt said. “This requires changes in our organizational structure and development approval process.”
Pratt referenced changes in the city’s way of doing things, noting that departments are more streamlined under a reorganization from David Kim, the Chief Administration Officer.
This also includes a new way of doing budgets, as everything must be tagged as a need and presented with a business plan.
“All departments are on side with it,” Pratt said. “They’ve been told it’s no longer a wants budget, it’s a needs budget, and if you bring something to it, you have to have a business plan attached to it explaining why we need it.”
On the subject of budgets, Pratt announced that the city’s tax increase will be 2.26 per cent, which includes the one per cent dedicated road tax.
He also touched on the city’s plan to borrow $10 million for road work next year and said it is better to tackle it now before there is a larger deficiency in the infrastructure.
Changes have been made to clean up some bylaw language, while development approval processes were updated, which Pratt hopes will encourage developers to look at projects in Cranbrook.
The city has partnered with Kimberley and the business community to form the Cranbrook Kimberley Development Initiative, which has close to $500,000 in no-strings-attached funding for marketing campaigns.
MGX Minerals is still planning to set up a processing plant in Cranbrook, as mining samples have returned a higher concentration of magnesite than originally thought.
Dycar Pharmaceuticals is still on track to set up a medical marijuana production facility, however, the company is still waiting on final federal approval from Health Canada.
Western Financial Place was another bright spot, as Pratt highlighted concert events from Collective Soul, Johnny Reid, George Thorogood and Teresa Caputo.
Pratt also lauded city staff for landing the upcoming Grand Slam of Curling in November and the Rogers Hometown Hockey event in February.
He also teased some upcoming events that should generate some excitement.
“Staff are in discussion with a variety of promoters for five different concert events for the first half of 2017 and unfortunately those have to remain confidential for now, but we’re working hard to get them here,” Pratt said.
Construction on a new dam at Idlewild Lake is currently underway and should be completed by October. However, the city is also planning on revitalizing the park and will be tweaking a draft plan after presenting it to the public at an open house on Tuesday.
“Next year is when the enhancements to the park are expected to start,” Pratt said. “It will once again be a very enjoyable experience for Cranbrook citizens, Area C residents and visitors to Cranbrook.”