The Mayors of Cranbrook, Kimberley and Canal Flats met with regional stakeholders on July 29 to discuss strengthening the regional economy post COVID-19. (City of Cranbrook file)

Summit in Cranbrook focuses on economic resiliency post COVID-19

Cranbrook, Kimberley, Canal Flats mayors discuss strategies to strengthen regional economy

The Mayors of Cranbrook, Kimberley and Canal Flats came together last week in a collaborative strategic planning session to discuss the economic climate post COVID-19, and the creation of regional economic development strategies.

According to a press release from the City of Cranbrook, a roundtable was held on July 29 at the Cranbrook History Centre. The discussion was led by Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt, Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick and Canal Flats Mayor Karl Sterzer. The discussion focused on a series of recommendations on investment attraction and economic development programs for the region.

The Mayors, as well as other regional participants, discussed the current state of energy, forestry, mining, aerospace and defence sectors in Cranbrook and the surrounding region.

Other participants in the summit included College of the Rockies, the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST), the Columbia Lake Technology Centre, the Columbia Broadband Corporation, the Canadian Rockies International Airport and several regional business leaders.

Mayor Lee Pratt said this was one of the many steps the City is taking to determine what type of investment in the region is best suited to attract.

“Meetings like this and others will help us target realistic economic development goals,” said Pratt.

McCormick says the trio of Mayors are faced with challenges that they are ready and willing to meet.

“Creating real economic impact in a rural region is difficult; the leadership from this group is strong and determined to make things happen,” he said.

READ MORE: Cranbrook, Kimberley receive provincial grants for economic development

READ MORE: Local, regional task force to tackle economic recovery amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sterzer says they want to continue to bring jobs and economic success to the area.

“We are looking forward to the continued collaboration with all forms of business, other local governments, First Nations and the RDEK to bring to pass jobs and economic success in our region,” Sterzer said.

Part of the discussion touched on how the City of Cranbrook has received over $113,000 in funding for economic development initiatives in 2020, highlighted by an $80,000 award from the Ministry of Forest, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). The awarded funds will go towards economic resiliency initiatives post COVID-19. CanExport also gave the City $33,600 for the creation of a foreign direct investment strategy.

Darren Brewer, Business Development Officer for Cranbrook says despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented, the City remains strong in the building and development sector.

“While COVID has been a challenge for all of us in the valley, it’s not all bad news,” he said. “For example, the City of Cranbrook Building Permits over the last five years [totals] over $210 million compared to $133 million the previous five years. We are on pace for the best year in a ten year period with 2020 estimated to be at over $55 million. We are lucky to have has this wave of momentum. Our downtown is looking better, and the Tembec lands project holds a lot of promise. Our future looks bright and this summit was a great first step in our planning post COVID.”

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