Letters to the Editor: May 1

Cranbrook trails; Re: Taxpayers and City Projects; Power of the Courts.

Cranbrook Trails

Last week I was given an extensive tour of the ATV and 4WD trails and routes east of Cranbrook. These trails showed evidence of both hiker and biker use also. Cranbrook residents are lucky to have these public lands.

Shame upon the people who have littered these areas with their debris. They’re using the areas for refuse dumps, while having access to your city’s fine garbage disposal facilities, shows no respect for other people nor the lands.

Should an organization, headed up by reliable folks, undertake to clean up the areas, I will donate $200 to assist them in their efforts.

Herb Green/Smithers

Taxpayers

In response to Mario Scodellaro, re: “Taxpayers”, I am pleased to clarify a number of concerns he raised:

• The west entrance to Cranbrook was in need of a fix. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the rocks reflect the area in which we live — the Rocky Mountains.  The designer of the sign also pointed out that while we live in the mountains, our strength is our people. The rocks were chosen individually and two have faces in them to reflect that strength. The metal sign is indeed low maintenance, the red wording for Cranbrook stands out in the day, and is very visible at night.  We have planters all around town, and it is the intention to beautify wherever possible. This entrance is one of two first impressions that visitors have of our city.

• The current Committee Terms of Reference are driven by Council (top down).  The Family and Community Services Committee met with CAO Staudt and Mayor Stetski where it was clarified that a Committee, through the Chair or the sitting Councillor, can ask Council for permission to take on an issue, or research to bring back to Council for their consideration, which is what I did.  This Committee wanted to research and explore the current physician shortage in our area.  Perhaps Mr. Scodellaro has a doctor.  However, in a few short months there will be approximately 3,300 people in the Cranbrook area without a physician.  This is a concern to me, and the members of our Committee.  Council gave us permission to pursue it by a majority vote.  The results of our findings will also be shared with the EK Division of Family Practice at their monthly meetings, which I have also been attending.  Creative solutions are in order.

• The 2nd Street repairs planned from the highway to 14th Avenue are expected to be done in phases as funding is available, which is rather unlikely this summer.  The underground infrastructure on this street has been identified by staff as being a very high priority.  Replacing our infrastructure the same way we have always done will no longer meet the needs of changing and sometimes extreme weather events, so we are doing our due diligence and looking at alternatives that are proven to work elsewhere.  Since 2nd Street is a main route to the hospital, Mt. Baker Campground, Spirit Square, and our downtown, beautification is also a consideration.

• The 10th Avenue improvements from Baker St. to 1st Avenue were implemented by the previous Council.  The intention was to make the downtown more walkable and sociable. While vehicles are accommodated, the result is slower moving traffic, making it safer for pedestrians.

Hopefully, I’ve been able to address some of the concerns for Mr. Scodelarro and your readership.

Sharon Cross/Cranbrook City Councillor

Taxpayers

My thanks to Mr. Scodellaro for his letter in the April 24 issue of the Townsman raising questions about Cranbrook’s transit system.  I always appreciate the opportunity to provide more information to the citizens of our great little city.

Having transit in Cranbrook is important, particularly for students, seniors and those who do not own an automobile.  It is also a selling point for people looking to move here.  The challenge is to get more people using buses.  One way Council is supporting transit is by approving free bus service to downtown from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays from June 28 to October 4, to encourage participation in the Farmers Market and the Spirit Square Summer Sounds Concert Series, and to get citizens out using the buses.

Mr. Scodellaro is right – it is expensive.  The City pays 53 per cent of the costs of the conventional bus service and 33 per cent of Paratransit with our partner, BC Transit, paying the balance.  This means we will pay $535,000 for our share of conventional bus service and $92,550 for Paratransit from local tax dollars for 2014/2015, after deducting the revenue.  We keep all revenue, which is projected to be $235,000 from regular bus services, and $15,139 from Paratransit.  The more riders there are, the less tax money is required to subsidize the service.  The forecast for 2014/2015 is 214,284 riders for conventional and 7,409 for custom (Para) transit.  The good news is that ridership has increased every year since service commenced in December 2000.

One of the things that still troubles many of us is seeing relatively large buses carrying relatively few passengers outside of peak hours.  In the last two years we have met annually with BC Transit, and each time I have said to them that we need smaller buses included in our fleet.  Last fall they advised us that our five buses are locked into lease arrangements that began in 2000 or 2002 and don’t expire until 2018 (one bus) and 2019 (four buses).  I said that was unacceptable and asked them to consider us as a pilot community to test smaller buses and to look for opportunities to swap for smaller buses with communities that might need larger ones.  In a follow-up phone call this spring, BC Transit said that they are working hard to try to get us smaller buses by 2016.  I assured them that earlier would be even better.

Having smaller buses should reduce costs at least a little and reduce their environmental impact, while increasing the happiness quotient for many of us who check every bus that goes by to see how many people are riding!

As I said at the beginning, having a transit system in Cranbrook is important.  You have a role to play by giving transit a try, or by buying a sheet of bus passes and giving them to family and friends (Santa brought my kids some in their stockings last Christmas), or by buying passes, which are available at City Hall, and giving them to Street Angels, the food bank, or to families who have no other means of transportation.  When you really think about it, we can use transit to bring our community together in many ways…

Mayor Wayne Stetski/Cranbrook

The Courts

I have been extremely disturbed recently by rulings coming out of both the provincial and federal courts that are overturning decisions/leglislation of both levels of government.

No matter what side of the political sphere you happen to be on, I think we should all be concerned that an unelected, elitist bunch of academic members of the legal profession are able to overrule our elected governments.

The one that really disturbs me is the overrule on the elimination of the credit of one and a half for time served while awaiting trial.

We appear to be heading towards supreme autocracy of the courts in our wonderful country, but what can we do about it?

Neil Matheson/Cranbrook

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