“We can spend now or wait until our roads are so bad that we have a catastrophic event.”

Do Cranbrook residents want to have roads fixed or save money?

Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt speaks about a proposed $10 million loan to fix Cranbrook roads.

Cranbrook mayor Lee Pratt speaks about a proposed $10 million loan to fix Cranbrook roads. — Photo courtesy Kootenay Business

Cranbrook is notorious for poor roads and its mayor, Lee Pratt, aims to rectify the problem. He arranged a media meeting and said that he was voted in by the people with the expectation that roads were going to be fixed and maintained to a higher standard than they had been. He’s looking to make good on that campaign promise by fixing Second Street South in downtown Cranbrook.

The problem is there isn’t enough money in the budget to take on such a challenge at this time which is why Mayor Pratt intends to withdraw a $10-million loan from the Municipal Finance Authority of B.C. In order to fix Second Street South, the project would need between $6- and $7-million, which is not possible to take out of a $26-million city budget. The remaining $3- to $4-million would be spent on re-sealing cracked roads, which Mayor Pratt said is a priority.

“We can spend now or wait until our roads are so bad that we have a catastrophic event,” he said. “Some roads are over 50 to 60 years old. Safety is important. Our roads and sewers are in bad shape.”

The money would be borrowed over a 20-year period. The average homeowner would be paying about 63 extra dollars in taxes per year. Mayor Pratt believes that amount of money is a reasonable sum to pay to maintain our roads. “People don’t want to invest in Cranbrook with a crumbling infrastructure,” he said. Tax dollars will employ local people and crews and would not be outsourced to workers outside the area.

There has been some opposition to the borrowing plan, but Mayor Pratt believes the silent majority want the roads fixed. Under the Alternative Approval Process, 1,500 residents would have to sign a petition to stop council’s plans to borrow the $10 million. The deadline to sign the petition is Monday, October 31, at 4:30 p.m. If the required number was reached, a referendum on the issue would be sparked.

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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