Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.
Friday, April 20, 2012
It’s time to give “The Strip” a break
Heading off to Barcelona in a few days and won’t be around to bug anyone for a while, but I thought it would be nice to leave you with a revolutionary thought – maybe it’s time we in Cranbrook rethought our beloved “Strip.”
Yes, I mean Cranbrook Street, that lovely arterial lined with fast-food joints, motels, tattoo parlors, malls, muffler shops, car lots, tire shops, chain stores, the Chamber of Commerce – you name it.
In many ways “The Strip”, as it’s affectionately known, is the bane of the city’s existence as it has been oft-criticized by travel writers, who after a few minutes or an overnight stop on it, use it as a punching bag to besmirch the city’s reputation after seeing little or none of the rest of the Key City.
Not very fair is it?
However, that’s life, and as we all know, life is seldom fair either and it’s no use wasting any tears over that. So it’s for this reason, I would like to emulate the Godfather and make an offer that I hope no self-respecting Cranbrookian will refuse – think again about The Strip.
Is our Strip essentially any different from any other urban, commercial strip, be it in Kelowna, Red Deer, Salmon Arm or Pouce Coupe? If you’re being honest, you know the answer is no. Some of the strips in the afore-mentioned cities may be longer, shorter, wider or narrower, but essentially they look just like our Strip. Many of them even have the same stores and businesses. Close your eyes and they become interchangeable in your brain, a virtual doppelganger for our unfairly maligned main artery.
So get over it Cranbrook. You have nothing to be ashamed about.
I bring this touchy topic up partly for personal reasons and in my role as a City Councillor who has antagonized some on Council and in the city at large over my role in supporting a local businessman on The Strip, who wanted to replace an old sign in front of his shop with a new slightly smaller one known in the trade as a “LED Electronic Changeable Copy Sign” or something like that. Council, in its wisdom, has decided that before this can be done a new sign bylaw or policy must be considered before we can say yea or nay to this businessman wanting to invest new money in our city.
Not wanting to throw sand in the gears of the City, I ended up supporting the motion myself, but I confess to reservations about why the City is going this route. The reasons, as best as I can divine them from some members of Council, is that our current Strip is projecting an image of the city that is negative in some way. They seem to feel the current signage is too garish, too bright , too big and there are too many signs. Over and over, I’ve heard comparisons made to Las Vegas, which I frankly think is way over the top, but you may disagree. Underneath the criticism, the subtext I hear is that they feel the bright lights on our main commercial street are a touch vulgar and unbecoming of a city that wants to project a more genteel and environmentally-appropriate image of itself.
Perhaps you agree with them and I certainly don’t fault you for doing that, but please allow me my response -- Codswallop!
A strip is a strip is a strip whether it’s in Cranbrook, Kelowna or Vancouver. A strip is a business street where hawkers hawk their wares and shoppers buy their products. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what makes our economy work and provides us with jobs and goods to buy. In short, it makes the world go around and if we can’t find what we’re looking for on our Strip, or elsewhere in town, we’ll go somewhere else to look for it and we all know where that leads.
So I say no to those who want to “improve” our Strip by bringing in new regulations to limit signs. Where else do you expect to find bright lights and colorful signs if it isn’t on a strip? If anything, it would be nice to see a few more bright lights and new LED signs to attract people downtown to its many fine stores which struggle to compete with the gaudy Strip.
Cranbrook is not a resort town like Fernie or Kimberley. We are a commercial, trade and business centre and I think our signage should reflect that.