Cranbrook is moving in the right direction.
That was the message from Cranbrook Mayor Wayne Stetski as he addressed the business community at a monthly Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday at the Heritage Inn.
Stetski touched on a number of subjects of interest to the business community, including accomplishments in arts and culture, community health and the economy.
“Cranbrook is a good place to do business and the city is working to make it an even better place to do business,” Stetski said.
He recalled a story he heard when running for mayor three years ago on how he kept hearing feedback that the city isn’t friendly for business. Digging deeper into that perception, he said he never found anyone who could articulate exactly why it was that people would believe that.
After working with the Chamber of Commerce members, the city came up with a report that included 13 recommendations on removing barriers to business.
“I went to the chamber and I said, ‘We need your help to tell us things that we need to be fixing to make this a better place to do business,’” Stetski said.
“So that was the beginning of the Barriers to Business report and now we’re working on implementing it.”
Recommendations include reviewing and updating the economic development strategy, reviewing mobile business licenses, creating checklists for developers and reviewing development cost charges and how they are applied.
Attracting families is just as important as attracting businesses that will grow Cranbrook, Stetski continued.
“It starts right with the kind of arts and culture that we’re building in Cranbrook,” Stetski said. “It starts with the kinds of performers that are coming to Cranbrook and the talent we have locally that contributes to our economy and contributes to our quality of life.”
Stetski’s report also touched on construction, as numbers are up across the board from residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and signs. Year-to-date construction costs total $27.9 million—a large chunk due to the $20 million hospital ICU expansion—and 114 permits have been issued.
Real estate is also up, with a year-to-date total of 177 single family homes sold with an average sale price of $286,685 as compared to the 132 sold in 2013.
The market for homes priced between $200,000 – $300,000 as well as $400,000 – $500,000 has significantly improved, while sales for the luxury housing market is still flat.
From the Canadian Rockies International Airport, year-to-date scheduled passenger traffic is up 10 per cent over last year. Stetski noted that in terms of growth percentage, the CRIA is outperforming comparable airports in B.C. such as Kamloops and Kelowna. He also added that the only way to get other carriers such as WestJet into the region is for people to keep using the airport to grow the passenger count.
“All the numbers are moving in the right direction in terms of airport usage, in terms of construction, in terms of real estate. We’re doing really quite well, we certainly can do better,” said Stetski.