Cranbrook courts development
Innovation and strategic planning are key concepts at Cranbrook city hall
At heart, Lee Pratt, the mayor of Cranbrook, is a businessman. David Kim, Cranbrook’s CAO, is all about strategy followed by action. Both are results-driven and both believe in following a long-term plan. When Kim joined Cranbrook’s administrative team in early 2016, he saw the council and community’s desire for change and growth, and his own philosophy of risk management and innovation complemented that.
“Our new mindset is to not avoid problems,” Kim said, “but to look at them with ownership and find innovative ways to the solutions. The change of mindset and corporate culture was probably the most important priority and fundamental change that has happened within our corporation. It will serve the organization and community for a long time.”
Kim sees strategic economic development as the basis and core of community vibrancy and sustainability, having everything to do with quality of life, lifestyle and choices. He sees the economy as a large, intermeshed unit with interdependent components including private business, public institutions, social services and the natural environment.
On the drawing board
Plans for economic development in Cranbrook include strategies for industrial land, a transportation hub, intellectual infrastructure, infrastructure service improvement, approvals service improvement and regional collaboration.
Recent changes to property zoning and streamlining of the development application approval process are having results. “Our building permit numbers are through the roof,” Pratt said, “and we’re getting calls from developers from outside the area who are looking at getting in on our growth.”
A couple of proposed housing projects look promising, including one project that combines 121 units of rental and for-sale housing. Every effort is being made to support these projects to become a reality in as timely a manner as possible.
In their pursuit of industrial investment, Pratt and Kim are becoming familiar faces in Vancouver. The Vancouver Port Authority and CP Rail are interested in the establishment of an intermodal transportation hub in Cranbrook and have provided Pratt and Kim with helpful information on accessing federal funding.
In the works
Pratt talked about the City’s aggressive program of public works, roads and infrastructure and downtown revitalization.
“Winter Blitzville was a phenomenal success,” he said, “and based on widespread public response, we’re planning a bigger and better event next year. Isaac Hockley was the guy behind organizing the snowmobile show, and Brett Turcotte is on board to come back with more riders next year, if we want him. The fireworks guys have asked to be part of the planning for next year, promising us a bigger, more spectacular show.
“Development of the former Tembec lands is coming along. We have three leases in place and lots of interest that we expect will result in more confirmed leases inside of this year.”
“Innovative problem solving is now our forte,” Kim said. “The Idlewild project and Joseph Creek restoration are based on science and long-term community health and safety. In one neighbourhood near St. Mary’s school, there was chronic flooding. We took an innovative approach and dealt with that at a cost of $5,000—a scientific, engineering-oriented approach—and it dealt with a decades-old problem.”
“Same thing with Elizabeth Lake downstream,” said Pratt. “We reversed the conduit under the highway, which had been installed incorrectly, creating annual flooding. We haven’t had floods in that area since that correction was made.”
Careful examination of the roof of Western Financial Place revealed that the direct cause of the problem of leaks was a design/construction issue, and a cost-effective long-term fix will be applied.
The Ice moves
“We’re sad to see the Kootenay Ice leave Cranbrook,” Pratt said, “and we wish the team success in Winnipeg. We’ll lose some revenue from the lease on the building, but we don’t know all of the ramifications—that will take some time to play out.”
“The Ice being based here was primarily providing value in the recreation and entertainment sector and in community spirit,” Kim said. “The impact to net new jobs would not be a major issue. Our goal is to provide a similar level of entertainment to our citizens while making sure the revenue stream is feasible. We’re getting some interests to fill this gap, but our first priority is to complete our contractual dealings with the Kootenay Ice.”
“This kind of community building takes a lot of effort and time.” Kim said. “We ask for the continuous trust and support from the community to be successful in this endeavour. We are building a solid foundation so that we can get the benefits for many decades to come.”
In April the City administration will begin its strategic planning to continue its groundwork for the next 20 years.