Is flooding the wave of the future

Barry Coulter's prominent story pix, favourite character, and shout-outs of 2014

Barry Coulter

As you can see from our Year in Review pages and here online, 2014 was an action-packed year. But aren’t they all, really?

A daily paper is like an endless river of news, and over the course of a whole year the weeks and months can become blurred together. But at year’s end, many stories stand out, which give the year past its own character and tenor, making that year distinct, unique and memorable.

You’ve already read about some of my colleague’s favourite stories of the year in the past couple of issues. Here are some of mine.

Elections are always an exciting, especially municipal elections. Last month’s election in Cranbrook featured a record number of candidates for Council, mayoral candidates with different philosophies, new voting machines, and such different visions for the future of Cranbrook that it seemed there was a lot at stake. The results came as a surprise to many, including me — a complete change-over of council and mayor, and now the future awaits. It was one of the most intense municipal elections I’ve seen, in any of the communities I’ve lived and worked in. The new mayor and council have four years to make their mark, and we’re all excited to see where they’ll lead us.

I’ve written in years past how Cranbrook is a town historically marked by fire — it’s become a metaphor for me. That changed this year — it strikes me that flooding issues are the wave of the future. We reported on residents’ concerns about the backing up of Idlewild Lake — a man-made body of water that is designed to be dredged occasionally. Elizabeth Lake, a body of water fed by creeks and underground springs, also flooded, bringing some of Cranbrook’s infrastructure problems to the fore. I don’t think it will take many years before we know whether this watery activity is a one-time time thing, or if we can look forward to these as yearly events, perhaps as a result of climate change, for example.

My favourite person of 2014 was Nelson the Cat, who became the poster boy for animal abuse down at the East Kootenay SPCA. This past spring, Nelson was subjected to hideous acts of torture, and abandoned in a ditch, where he was found and rescued. When I visited him, he was recovering from being shot with a pellet gun, having his throat slashed at, and having a broken leg. He was active and personable, though suspicious, and while he was expected to make physical recovery he would undoubtedly be traumatized by the sick acts he was subjected to. The story of Nelson the Cat went viral  online — it’s good to know so many people are compassionate and outraged by such acts.

I had the pleasure of talking to some great musicians in 2014: Oscar Lopez, the Italian rock star Zucchero, Ashley MacIsaac, Lisa Brokop, Charlie Pride, Kenny Rogers — all who were charming, gracious and interesting interviews. These are my favourite kind of interviews, and I’m looking forward to doing many more in 2015. Cranbrook is and should be a great music town. And by the way — I know our new Council is budget conscious, but I’m going to be upping my campaign to get the acoustics approved in Western Financial Place. I’m going to be arguing in these pages about the economic and social benefits of doing so until everyone’s so sick of me they’ll fix the sound just to shut me up. Stay tuned (pun intended).

Lastly, a shout-out to the local theatrical community, a vital crowd which as much as anything else makes Cranbrook unique and sets above and apart. Cranbrook Community Theatre had a monster season, starting in December, 2013, with “Visiting Mr. Green,” directed by Tanya Laing Gahr. CCT’s one-acts — “The Exquisite Hour” and “Next” (Elizabeth Ross and Bob McCue, directors) — last January were dramatic gems. David Stock’s “The Foreigner” in April was a comedy tour de force, which sold out every night. And for the first time ever, a play was shared between Kimberley’s Off Centre Players and Cranbrook’s CCT — the Terry Miller directed “Calendar Girls,” a great, thought-provoking comedy featuring some courageous and gifted actors. Miller also directed the great comedy “Halo” in the autumn. A fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society. The play ran at Centre 64 then moved south to the Studio Stage Door.

CCT also celebrated its 40th anniversary as stewards of the Studio Stage Door heritage building in Cranbrook.

Speaking of Terry Miller, the local prolific director was the recipient in 2014 of Theatre B.C.’s prestigious Eric Hamber Award, which honours life-time contributions to community theatre.

Brent Carver, Canada’s greatest stage actor and originally from Cranbrook, spoke to the Townsman about being recognized for his career and body of work with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. Carver was quick to praise the vitality, exuberance and traditions of local theatre.

Mount Baker Secondary School put on “Urinetown,” directed by Mary Hamilton, a fabulous romp. Selkirk Secondary in Kimberley produced “Legally Blonde,” directed by Sven Heyde.

And coming up right away at the Key City Theatre: the most famous play of the 20th century — Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot,” opening January 21.

Happy New Year, everybody. See you in the streets and see you in the seats.