Significant funding has been awarded to help the City of Cranbrook develop a master tourism plan. Photo courtesy City of Cranbrook.

Significant funding awarded for Cranbrook tourism master plan

Cranbrook is getting ready to move forward on developing a master tourism plan, as nearly $100,000 of grant funding from various sources has been awarded for the initiative.

The plan is a partnership between organizations such as the city, Cranbrook Tourism, Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce and the Ktunaxa Nation Council to develop a master plan that will help guide decisions, bolster current tourism assets in the community and set future tourism-related goals.

To that end, numerous sources of funding supporting the plan include $50,000 from the Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC), $20,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust, $5,000 from the Regional District of East Kootenay, and the city’s own contribution of $18,500.

“We are thankful to ESTI-BC, Columbia Basin Trust and the RDEK for their investment into our community,” said Mayor Lee Pratt. “This funding will allow the city to look ahead and build out a tourism strategy that will best exemplify what the Cranbrook has to offer British Columbia, Canada, and the world.”

One of 27 successful applicants for ETSI-BC funding, the $50,000 grant is the maximum amount of funding per project that the organization provides through its Building Economic Development Capacity funding stream.

“The team at ETSI-BC is delighted to support the City of Cranbrook on this initiative,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of ETSI-BC. “This project aligns with our strategic pillar of building economic development capacity and supporting regional economic development partnerships in the Southern Interior of BC. We look forward to the outcomes of this tourism strategy initiative.”

Will Nixon, Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits with Columbia Basin Trust, voiced his support for the plan.

“We are pleased to support the City, the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Cranbrook Chamber and Cranbrook Tourism to develop a plan to further tourism opportunities as an economic driver in the Cranbrook area,” said Nixon. “The community of Cranbrook and Ktunaxa ʔamakʔis are places of great beauty and history that are full of recreational opportunities. This partnership will ensure that residents and visitors alike benefit from a well-developed plan.”

The RDEK’s contribution to the plan was approved last week during a board meeting in Cranbrook, as a staff report noted that the city’s economic success directly benefits Area C residents.

“We are witnessing an increase in active transportation within our region as our trails and recreational opportunities gain local, provincial, national and international awareness. There are tremendous health and economic benefits that go along with the implementation of a well-designed tourism strategy, and we are proud to support the City of Cranbrook in the development of its Tourism Master Plan,” said Rob Gay, RDEK board chair.

In addition to developing a tourism master plan, the city is also currently working on a Downtown Revitalization Master Plan, which will also include tourism elements and opportunities.

“This is a watershed moment for our tourism sector. It’s time to polish the unplucked gem,” said Darren Brewer, Business Development Officer at the City of Cranbrook. “We will create an inclusive and bold vision for our city and invite everyone in our community to participate.”

“In a short period of time we worked in collaboration and were able to develop a meaningful relationship with the City of Cranbrook, the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce and Cranbrook Tourism,” said Janice Alpine, Business Development Officer and Tourism Engagement with the Ktunaxa Nation Council. “Our ideals in working together is to develop and understand how Tourism and Heritage Tourism is a tool to help our perspectives merge.”

The plan will be critical in setting the future direction for tourism not just in Cranbrook but the region, according to Kristy Jahn-Smith, Executive Director of Cranbrook Tourism.

“Hearing what residents and local business want for the future will be key to the process, ensuring we move forward in a productive and sustainable way,” she said. “The plan will ensure we are inclusive and forward thinking, while also maximizing collaboration between key partners and ensuring businesses and residents benefit from growth of the tourism economy.”