A meeting hosted the evening of November 5 by the City of Cranbrook’s planning division drew approximately 50 people.
The topic was the future of the City-owned property between 10th and 11th Avenues, topped by Second Street South. The City properties include City Hall, the Fire Hall, the small brick electrical/waterworks building, the Studio/Stage Door and the RCMP building. Three parking lots and the small Pat Casey Park are also included.
Participants broke into five separate groups to discuss how the properties could be employed to renew Cranbrook’s downtown area. They reported back to the whole group with recommendations. There was a lot of lively discussion and some very worthwhile outcomes.
All participants viewed the Fire Hall building as the flagship property. It was recognized as the icon of Cranbrook’s past and future downtown. Most participants saw the building being utilized as a gallery/cultural centre. From that general agreement emerged that the small brick building could be utilized next year as a youth arts centre/artists’ studio, and perhaps a small café/ice cream outlet.
There was a lot of excitement produced in trying to conceive of the whole area as having ongoing multi-purpose uses. Participants wanted to see cobblestoned areas, shade trees, kiosks and small art boutiques developed, along with an expanded use in-season by the Cranbrook Farmers’ Market.
Everyone appeared to be in agreement with the need to bring more life into the downtown core. With a group from the Baker Hill Heritage Society already working on the restoration of the brick water/electrical building, it was seen by many that this work could drive much of the change. A representative from this group stated that a combined end-use of a youth arts centre/small café could be instrumental in bringing the Cranbrook Arts Council into the Fire Hall.
“These actions could ignite a movement to bring the downtown alive all year long,” the participant said.
The meeting, taking place in the old restored brick Manual Training Centre, made many aware of the appeal the vestiges of historic Cranbrook has to the emerging and expanding City. The drawings of the brick building produced by Linsey Walker and Riley Jeffrey from Mount Baker Secondary School indicated the appeal the project can have to all ages of residents.
The City of Cranbrook and Mayor Stetski are to be commended on their will to bring citizens together to envision future growth. Everyone now awaits the report to Council from the City Planning Department.