Cranbrook’s newest top administration official is settling in as staff and council begin annual budget sessions that will identify financial priorities set the city’s fiscal course for the next five years.
Mark Fercho was officially sworn in as Cranbrook’s Chief Administrative Officer at the beginning of the month, returning to helm civic operations in the town where he was born and raised.
Since returning to Cranbrook, Fercho has had the chance to get an overview of all city departments and attend his first city council meeting on Nov. 9 in his official capacity as CAO. He takes over from Ron Fraser, who was serving as acting CAO for roughly the last year while also pulling double-duty as Director of Engineering and Development Services.
Fercho joins the city’s administrative team after serving the same role in Jasper for the last six years.
Coming back home to Cranbrook was appealing for two main reasons, he said, in an interview with local media.
“One, is council had a desire to have somebody strong come in and operate the organization as a local government should, and that was clear — you saw some of the reporting and some of the issues that were in the past and what they wanted to do about that,” Fercho said. “So for me, to have a mandate to operate as I would, was excellent.”
“The other piece of that is that this mayor and council are very bullish on the future of Cranbrook. Being a Cranbrookite from a long time ago, I worked all over the province and lived all over B.C., worked in northern B.C. and the [Vancouver] Island and the Okanagan. I’ve watched communities enjoy some of the benefits of things changing and Cranbrook hasn’t taken advantage of that in the way it should, is how I felt, and now I feel this council would like to move forward on some of those things and I found that very attractive.”
Prior to heading up Jasper’s administrative team, he held the same role as CAO for the District of Mackenzie, and also served in various positions with the City of Prince George from 2002-2011.
A key focus will be supporting good economic growth in ways that benefit the entire community while providing and maintaining essential services such as water, sewer, garbage health-care, and policing.
“Cranbrook is well situated in the East Kootenay, there is no reason for us not to be very economically successful — not that we’re not, but you’re certainly seeing that now in the value of houses and growth that’s coming to town,” Fercho said. “But as an organization, as a municipality, how can we facilitate good jobs and good growth in the community for the benefit of the residents? Not having growth negatively impact, but take advantage of new economic drivers, new development for the betterment of the community?
“That’s really where I see this council being supportive — and hopefully my ability to work within the organization itself — to put those pieces together. I think it’s a challenge, but I think it’s exciting and it’s why I’m here.”