Exciting times ahead for Cranbrook: Mayor
Mayor Lee Pratt’s State of the City Address to the chamber Sept. 21
Business as usual returned to the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce membership Sept. 21 with the return of the monthly luncheon meeting.
As is the norm for September meetings, the guest speaker/presentation features a State of the City of Cranbrook Address by the Mayor of Cranbrook.
On Wednesday, at the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, Mayor Lee Pratt provided his second address since being elected in November 2014.
The following is the text of his speech.
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
Last year at this time we were a brand new Mayor and council elected, who had very little or no municipal political experience at all. I believe this has been a positive for the city as we do not get caught up in all the bureaucratic red tape procedures, which make it difficult to achieve what the goal was.
My approach has been ‘how do we get to yes’ and let’s ‘get-er-done.’
We all want to make Cranbrook a place to do business and to create a safe, friendly, progressive community that people will be proud of and want to live and raise their families here.
– The market has been very active and 2016 continues to show an increase in demand.
– Supply is at a low point since 2007 – currently only 85 homes offered for sale.
– Demand is above the 10-year rate with anticipated sales of 260 – 265 this year.
– Uptick in buyers from the lower mainland now comprising five per cent of our sales, up from historical two to three per cent
– Alberta has had a drop in origin of buyers by five per cent.
– Prices year to date are up 3.2% and expected to finish off in the 3.5 to four per cent range.
– Sales are up in all categories from $200,000 – 400,000.
– Down in the $400,000 to $600,000 range. This could be a result of shortage of listings and confidence in the economy, especially in Alberta now.
– Once commodity prices pick up and stabilize we expect increases in all sectors of the housing market.
– Thank you to Jason Wheeldon for providing me with this data
Building Inspections and Bylaw Services Division
The second quarter of 2016 saw a total construction value of $6.48 million as compared to $3.27 million for the 2nd quarter of 2015.
The second quarter of 2016 saw 11 new housing starts (single family and medium multi-family) and three manufactured/mobile home foundations as compared to five new housing starts and 5 manufactured/mobile home foundation for the second quarter of 2015. With the new Bain development coming on stream these numbers should show a significant increase. A total of 79 building permits were issued in the second quarter of 2016 as compared to 60 for the same period in 2015.
Quarterly Comparison – All Construction (Additions, alterations and new construction)
Category 2nd Quarter 2016 Value 2nd Quarter 2015 Value
Residential $ 5,316,916.38 $ 2,787,337.70
Commercial $ 62,707.57 $ 313,100.00
Industrial $ 903,300.00 $ 0.00
Institutional $ 179,403.64 $ 69,781.00
Government $ 0.00 $ 0.00
Signs $ 20,908.50 $ 96,705.41
2nd Quarter Totals
(April-June) $ 6,483,236.09 $ 3,266,924.11
Year to date construction costs for 2016 are $19.9 million as compared to $9.4 million to the end of August 2015. As of August 31, 2016, a total of 177 permits have been issued, compared to 152 for the same period in 2015.
Year-to-Date Comparison- All Construction (January 1st to August 31th)
Category Year-to-date 2016 Value Year-to-date 2015 Value
Residential $ 17,370,831.75 (109) $ 6,945,979.87 (98)
Commercial $ 588,507.57 (11) $ 1,056,031.00 (18)
Industrial $ 1,378,050.00 (10) $ 1,079,598.90 (4)
Institutional $ 494,403.64 (7) $ 142,831.00 (4)
Government $ 0.00 $ 0.00
Signs $ 78,428.15 (40) $ 215,023.85 (28)
Total Construction $ 19,910,221.11 (177) $ 9,439,464.62 (152)
A total of 53 permit applications have been received since the end of June 2016 as compared to 46 in the same period of 2015. A total of 10 new single-family dwelling applications were received since the end of June compared to 5 in the same period of 2015. These numbers are very positive and show the return of confidence in our city.
– Opened 90 new accounts in 2015 in total for the year.
– Opened 106 new accounts in 2016 to date end of August
– Closed 58 to date as well: Some moved out of the city limits;
Contractors finished their work; Some businesses merged with others.
The City of Cranbrook currently has 1,441 active business licences.
As of August 31, scheduled passenger traffic is two per cent below 2015 and is projected to be three per cent below 2015 at year end. This can be attributed in part to the economic downturn in Alberta. Conversations continue with WestJet and Alaska/Horizon to expand air service though passenger loads are not quite high enough at this time to support these carriers.
Year to date (as of Aug 31, 2016) scheduled passenger traffic is up three per cent over budget and down two per cent compared with previous year. Year-end passenger numbers are projected to be two per cent over budget.
Recent Air Service Developments
Conversations with carriers continue, with Westjet and Alaska/Horizon being the most engaged.
Our passenger loads remain on the cusp of supporting significant aircraft size upgrades required to support these carriers. That being said, Air Canada has been putting the Q-400 on our Vancouver route from time to time and we’re seeing Pacific Coastal bringing the Saab and the Beech 19D quite regularly, these are very positive changes.
While we haven’t seen as dramatic a slowdown as other airports, such as Kamloops, the economic downtown in Alberta has had an effect and our eastbound growth trend hasn’t continued this year, which has slowed our progress with WestJet.
Integra Air has announced they will cease their operations on October 31.
WestJet staff stays in close contact, and have become more interested in meeting with Tristen (Chernove) following the Olympic Games coverage. A meeting will be arranged shortly after his return from Rio. (There was loud applause when Mayor Pratt stated the city is very proud of Tristen’s three medal performance in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games for Canada.)
Year-to-date (as of Aug. 31) operating revenues are five per cent over budget and four per cent under 2015 YTD. Yearend revenue is projected to be 4% above budget.
Year-to-date (as of Aug. 31, 2015) operating expenses are 17% under budget and on par with 2015 YTD. Yearend operating expenses are projected to be six per cent under budget.
2016 Capital Project Highlights
Airfield Electrical Infrastructure; Budget $1,250,000
This project involved replacement of aging airport electrical infrastructure, some of which was over 40 years old. Also involved was installation of Runway Guard Lights which permit aircraft to take off in visibility of one-quarter statute mile. Without runway guard lights visibility is required to be at least one-half statute mile. Construction is complete. Project will be complete once drawings have been received by airport administration.
ATB Interior Updates; Budget $150,000
Revamping the departures lounge and several other areas of the Air Terminal Building to improve the local sense of place and provide new passenger services such as charging stations, water bottle refill stations and a children’s play area. The airport administrative team has been working with an interior design firm to develop the floor plan and begin sourcing equipment and materials.
Parking Machines; Budget $40,000
The new machines have arrived and are awaiting installation. They will be up and running before the end of September. The new machines will use a pay-by-licence plate system that will be more user friendly, improving the overall passenger experience.
Training Centre Renovation; Budget $15,000
The training room in the old airport firehall has received a facelift. New paint and trim, complete with new boardroom furniture have created an improved revenue opportunity for the airport. The training room will be marketed to groups to be rented out for meetings.
Western Financial Place
Last year’s events: Johnny Reid – 1,931 attended; Collective Soul – 1,697 attended; George Thorogood – 2,138 attended; Theresa Caputo – 1,509 attended.
– Grand Slam of Curling – November 8 – 13. Tier 1 event – 30 top men’s and women’s teams from around the world. Tier 2 Event – another 30 men’s and women’s teams from around the world taking place at the Memorial Arena.
– Rogers Hometown Hockey coming on February 18 and 19. This event will highlight Cranbrook on national TV. Tara Slone and Ron McLean on location for two days and will have a major interactive festival as well as a live broadcast in conjunction with an NHL Hockey Game. This event is being planned for a downtown location and should bring thousands of people to the downtown core. Fifteen semi-trucks are required to bring this travelling show to Cranbrook.
These people meet with the Mayor to get a feel for the acceptance of their proposal. I then present to council. We look at the event costs involved and the cost to the city, if any. Sometimes we are risking some money but we feel we owe this to the business community. These events will be huge economic drivers.
Then the real work starts with all the arrangements, preparation and cooperation with all parties that are affected by the scheduling. At this time I want to publicly offer my thanks and appreciation to Chris New, Director of Leisure Services, Stacy Paulson, Facility Operations manager and Paul Heywood, Events and Marketing Manager. Without the efforts of these gentlemen these events would not be happening. They put in a lot of time and extra effort to accommodate the requests that these people make to hold their events.
55+ BC Games don’t take place until 2018 but organization will begin in December. Looking for a local games president and Board of Directors.
– Staff members are presently in discussion with a variety of promoters on five different concerts/events for Western Financial Place for the first half of 2017. All acts are confidential at this time.
– Installed four pickleball courts, which are also very busy with a lot of new players and the snowbirds who play when they go south.
– Installed new playground equipment. CBT Grant was received for this project. This was very much appreciated.
– This is now one of our premier parks in the city.
– They have been very busy with the planning for Idlewild Park, conducting surveys and holding open houses for public input.
– Next year will be when the enhancements to the surrounding park will start. This will once again be a very enjoyable experience for Cranbrook citizens, RDEK Electoral Area C residents and visitors to Cranbrook.
– The city undertook a number of energy projects to reduce our energy costs and decrease our carbon footprint.
– LED streetlight project: Phase I completed in 2015 – received $36,569 incentive from BC Hydro – cost approx. $142,708; Phase II completed in 2016 – received $66,522 incentive from BC Hydro – cost approx. $275,292. Savings of $33,450 in energy costs from June 2015 to July 2016.
– Library boiler upgrade: Received $7,182 incentive from Fortis BC. Have saved approximately $3,800 in energy costs from August 2015 to July 2016 – cost approx. $49,250.
– RCMP Furnace upgrade: Saved approximately $1,300 in energy costs – cost approx. $3,000.
– Western Financial Place upgrades: Boiler stacks replaced – cost approx. $39,634; Aquatic overhead lights upgraded to LED – waiting on final approval of $5,487.00 in incentives – cost approx. $22,500; From January 2015 to July 2016 have achieved savings of approximately $60,000.
– Curling Rink upgrades resulting in savings of approximately $10,000.
– Total funding received since January 2015 to August 2016 is $147,773. Total energy cost savings for the same period is $108,550.
There are still a number of projects to be completed this year at Western Financial Place, Curling Rink and the Cranbrook Public Library. These projects will receive an additional $150,000 in funding and should result in an additional $45,000 in energy costs. Total project cost $532,384.
– Lower than the 2.58% in 2015.
– Achieved without cutting any city services.
– Started looking at 2017 Budget and have a new process which we believe will result in a wiser, more efficient way we spend your tax dollars.
– Tax increases are inevitable but we are trying to hold the line on the increase and give the taxpayer the best bang for their buck.
– Asking to borrow $10 million for roadwork and repairs or replacement to failing infrastructure. This has been neglected for too long and we must work on it now.
– There will be a slight increase in your taxes but this pales in comparison to the cost later. If we wait it would possibly become a large burden to homeowners and business people.
– There is a calculation tool on the city’s website where you can see what the cost to your assessed value will be.
– Created CKDI (Cranbrook, Kimberley Development Initiative) partnership with the municipalities of Cranbrook and Kimberley, 49 business partners and Columbia Basin Trust.
– Have over $500,000 to direct strictly to sales and marketing with no administrative costs.
– Just finalizing the marketing campaign and have made direct contact with a number of industries to attract them to this area.
– Targetting light industrial type businesses creating good job opportunities for our citizens.
– Both myself and (City of Kimberley) Mayor Don McCormick met with a number of Ministers and their support staff as well as the Major Investment Firm. They are all excited to see our business community setting up this initiative and are offering support in many different ways.
– This would see the creation of three spin off industries creating over 100 jobs for many, many years to come and millions of dollars spent at start-up.
– You may have heard we are doing a 75 acre parcel in our watershed and the results of this will prove this proposal is a very viable option. If successful here it could be implemented in many areas of the province supplying a solution to Wildfire Interface problems facing many communities.
– MGX (Minerals) is on target to establish it’s processing plant for the magnesite from their mine. This is a slow process but is advancing well and should be quicker now that a lot of parameters have been established.
Their sample came back showing a much richer content than was first thought. They also have proven reserve of 8.46 million tons with more to come as they advance their drilling program.
– Dycar Pharmaceuticals is in the final stage of approval for the Medical Marijuana Facility. Hoping it will be finalized this year and they can start the building renovations.
– Streamlining the development permit approval process as well as starting to clean-up our bylaws such as removing the mandatory 125% security and getting it at a rate that makes sense for the individual circumstances.
– Entering into an inter-community Business Licence with Kimberley.
– Sale of old Fire Hall which follows on the rezoning earlier this year to C1. The city has accepted a conditional offer for the sale of the old fire hall. The buyer is going through their due diligence in order to clear the subject to’s that were part of the offer. We expect this process to be wrapped up by mid-December at the latest, at which point we can provide more details on the sale.
Roadwork this year
Major road projects which included replacement of underground infrastructure (water, sanitary sewer, and storm sewer) were: 11th Avenue from 3rd Street South to 10th Street South; 4th Street South from 11th Avenue to 14th Avenue; 6th Street South from 11th Avenue to 14th Avenue.
-The city’s Asset Management Plan was used to identify these projects. We will continue to use this plan to optimize investments in road and utility maintenance to ensure we can extend the life span of existing infrastructure that is in good condition.
If approved, the $10 million loan will see the replacement of the pavement and underground infrastructure on 2nd Street South from Highway 3/95 to 10th Avenue and resurfacing of the street from 10th Ave. to 14th Ave. Estimated cost on this is betwen $7 million and $8 million. The balance will be added to our dedicated $4 million to $5 million dollars roadwork and should allow for the resurfacing of many other streets in Cranbrook. We will do five years work in two years.
Looking at new technology and different equipment to increase the efficiency of our roadwork and the life expectancy of the roads and infrastructure.
Last 12 months
In the last 12 months we held the line on taxes with a 2.26% increase including the one percent dedicated road tax. This was accomplished without cutting any city services.
We continued to use the Asset Management Plan to prioritize which streets need to be fixed and to what extent; for example, do the water and sewer lines need replacing also.
We are introducing a Road Maintenance Plan to help preserve our roads and have them last longer. This involves the use of our pothole machine and re-instating sealcoating
Replaced the 30 year old Motor Control Centre at the Spray Irrigation site.
Completed the installation of new and updated equipment at the three city wells bringing them back on line.
With the city’s efforts and partnership with the local chamber and tourism sector, we established a Tourism Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) to help promote Cranbrook as a destination and grow our visitor economy.
Updated, amended or rescinded several bylaws, streamlining procedures with the city, reducing red tape and making it easier to do business in Cranbrook. We are continuing to look at these on an ongoing basis.
Replacing the washrooms in Rotary Park with one that can be used year round. Partnered with the Rotary Club on this project.
Enhanced the landscaping downtown.
Installed new holding tank and septic field at Elizabeth Lake Visitors Centre.
Completed the establishment of Off Leash Dog Park.
Did extensive sidewalk repair and replacement
Gave up the E911 service to the city and the Regional District of East Kootenay. We partnered with 13 other Fire Departments and the regional district to establish a new service out of Kelowna. This resulted in a savings in excess of $400,000 to the City of Cranbrook and helped us maintain our certification with the Fire Commissioner and underwriter.
What’s in the Future?
Cranbrook is facing great potential economically and socially/community wide. This requires changes in our organizational structure and development approval process.
We have restructured some city departments to make them more efficient and able to make decisions in a more timely fashion. This is still a work in progress but already has delivered some great results.
We are looking at establishing a one number call system. Three people will be trained to direct your call to the proper department in real time to manage all our work in all departments. They will know what questions to ask so the message can be sent off and put in a priority sequence. This will help us to constantly monitor our infrastructure and plan the work in an efficient way at the same time minimizing our risks.
– Because of our location we are researching some transportation and intermodel opportunities. In a few weeks we are working with the Minister of Transportation and Vehicle Inspection services to conduct a survey of all the trucks going through Cranbrook. We will be engaging some students from the College of the Rockies to help with this survey.
We will be asking what they are hauling, where it originated from and where they are going. With this information we will be able to attract some interest from industries which would benefit from the traffic and possibly the goods being hauled.
– We are starting to get a lot of interest from outside developers. We will be in conversation with CP Rail and the Vancouver Port Authority regarding intermodel transfers. We will be seeing these people next week in Victoria at the UBCM Conference.
– We have a number of other initiatives in the works but some are in the very early stages and must remain confidential. Exciting times are coming for Cranbrook.
Thank you to the chamber for inviting me to speak here today.
Mayor Lee Pratt,