Council endorses Joseph Creek Consortium
By Ian Cobb
Most communities in the East Kootenay have grand watercourses beside or near them.
The Elk River dominates the Elk Valley municipalities and unincorporated communities. Ditto the Columbia River for the Columbia Valley, as well as the two main lakes Windermere and Columbia. Kimberley has Mark Creek powering through its downtown, along with several other creeks and St. Mary River flanking it. The Kootenay River brushes up against Canal Flats, fascinatingly close to the headwaters of the Columbia River.
‘That’ is an important, albeit small and too-often neglected watercourse that originates at Mt. Joseph, 30 km southwest of the city, and flows into Phillips Reservoir and down to the small lake at Idlewild Park and then snakes through the Key City to the St. Mary River at St. Eugene Golf Course and Casino.
And now, thanks to City of Cranbrook council’s unanimous endorsement last night, Joseph Creek may soon begin to get the loving it deserves.
City administration asked council for endorsement to work with multiple parties to create a management vision for Joseph Creek from its headwaters through to the St. Mary’s River.
The city will now work with the ‘Joseph Creek Consortium’ to achieve a management vision for Joseph Creek from stem-to-stern, including community, cultural, ecological, economic, environmental, educational, historic, infrastructure, and recreational values, a city report recommendation noted.
“Joseph Creek above the Phillips Reservoir provides much of the potable water supplied to the city’s water distribution system. Through Idlewild Lake and below, Joseph Creek is the backbone of the city’s storm water conveyance system. Accordingly, any development or roadway construction work in the city affects the water quality and the streambed of the creek,” the city report recommendation outlined.
The ‘Joseph Creek Consortium’ has evolved thanks to the leadership of the Blue Lake Education Society, which has led discussions among many stakeholders in the Cranbrook area over the past several years, aiming for a holistic vision of the creek.
“The city has acknowledged the stakeholders’ effort and determined to support the initiative by way of providing technical expertise and funding. Funding for the preliminary scoping project by the Blue Lake Education Society is provided in the 2016 Capital budget for work necessary to any storm water management project arising out of the city’s capital works projects. A budget authorization request for $65,000 has been proposed for fiscal 2017 to provide for both Blue Lake Education Society funding and the capital costs of several stream related projects,” the city report explained.
The start of the project will feature Blue Lake Education Society reaching out to people and organizations in the community “to identify problems and possible options that will improve the sustainability of Joseph Creek and better serve the residents of Cranbrook in the future,” the city report said.
It is anticipated a preliminary vision “as to what might be possible in each reach of the creek, how any project might happen and who might contribute financially. It is anticipated that the proposed project will identify multiple opportunities for the bed and streambanks of Joseph Creek that will be realized over several decades,” the report concluded.
Mayor Lee Pratt said the creation of a vision for Joseph Creek “is just another piece of the puzzle,” adding onto the work being done at Idlewild Lake.
“Done properly this could be a showcase for the whole city,” he added.
Coun. Danielle Cardozo thanked the Blue Lake Education Society for its leadership. “This is work that really needs to be done,” she said.
Coun. Isaac Hockley agreed. “This is huge. We’ve neglected this creek, as a city, way too long,” he said.
Coun. Ron Popoff said he likes the make up of the coalition. “It truly does represent a whole collective of this community. It’s long over due,” he said.