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, January 31, 2014

Michael's Musings

Accessibility improving for seniors and disabled persons in Cranbrook

By Michael J Morris

While having a chat with Councillor Sharon Cross over coffee recently on a wide range of issues facing Cranbrook, the subject of improvements for seniors and disabled persons arose.

Right off the top though, in the interests of full disclosure, Sharon and I have been friends since 1989 when I arrived at East Kootenay Community College, now College of the Rockies, where she was executive assistant to the president. 

Sharon had contacted me after my column on sidewalk snow removal in the city appeared, and we arranged a meet.

Anyway, we chatted about snow removal, and on that front, enough said. In fact, when it snowed again this week, I was delighted with the city's efforts, and doubly so, upon seeing a news release from the city's corporate communications officer on the subject. Enough already on that subject for the time being anyway.

In the course of the conversation, Sharon advised that Mayor Wayne Stetski had recently compiled a list of improvements for seniors and disabled persons, and others too, that enhances accessibility. I asked if she could provide me with a copy and within hours, the mayor had made one available. Good stuff.

All were supported by the city, but some were projects undertaken  by other organizations, and some received assistance from the provincial and federal governments.

Here is my summary from the list provided, as well as some observations -- and it may not be complete but it shows that in Cranbrook there is a focus on accessibility.

An elevator lift has been installed at the Cranbrook Seniors Centre - and I would add there is also one now at Christ Church Anglican, and although I don't use the one at the church at the moment, except when I want a little "joy ride" it is well used and a welcome addition for those who need it.

The mayor's list notes that sidewalk letdowns have been installed at the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and automatic door entries at six buildings.

At the Studio Stage Door, there is a new stair lift and more accessible washrooms. There are also portable ramps at some businesses.

For the visually impaired, new two colour lino is now in place on stairs at city hall as well as warning pads.

A major project, and long overdue but finally completed was wheelchair access ramp at the RCMP headquarters in downtown Cranbrook.

Extending the length of walk signals at intersections is a project in progress. I'm personally very supportive of this one because I've never made it more that half way across since I came here in 1989 before it changes to "Don't Walk", and I walked much faster than I do now.

I don't know if they plan to have those 30 second timers but when I am in a city that does, it really helps -- the challenge becomes to make at 30 seconds.

The mayor also noted that the City of Vancouver, and I would add others too, are considering a bylaw that includes accessibility features in new residence construction, but that may be a story for another day.

I extend my thanks to Sharon for taking time from her very busy schedule to chat and give me a very detailed overview on challenges facing Cranbrook, and to Mayor Stetski for making the accessibility list available so quickly. My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Go on - Smile

What's Happening.....

Cranbrook Library - ongoing
Art Display
The Work of the late Jimmy Warland

Fort Steele ongoing
Everyday Outdoor Public Skating
9:30am - 3:30pm

Thursday January 30th

Country Music Night and Dancing
Eagles Nest
Eagles Hall
715 Kootenay St.
8:00pm - 11:00pm

Saturday Febraury 1st

Zentangle Workshop 
with instructor Cindy Hagen
$35 including the kit
Cranbrook and District Arts Council
135, Tenth Av S.

Symphony of the Kootenays
Sultans of String
Key City Theatre 7:30pm
Tickets $29.50 adults Youth $16

Sunday February 2nd

Symphony Family Concert
Fiddle Fire with Chris McKool
Key City Theatre
Tickets $15

Monday February 3rd

Funtasik Singers Sing a Long
Singing just for fun
Everyone welcome
Cranbrook and District Arts Council
135, Tenth Avenue South
6:45pm - 8:15pm

Tuesday February 4th - February 28th

The Flathead Exhibit officially opens

First opened in Waterton National Park in September
Cranbrook and District Arts Council
is proud to be the first to host this exhibit in the area
5 well known artists, stunning paintings
Reception, Friday February 7th, 7:00pm
Gallery open 11:00am to 5:00pm Tuesday through Friday
11:00am - 2:00pm Saturday

Thursday Febraury 6th

Rockies Film Series
'All is Lost' with Robert Redford
Tickets Lotus books

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

City Snow Clearing Underway

Cranbrook, BC (January 29, 2014) -- Snow clearing operations are now underway in the City of Cranbrook, thanks to a return of winter weather today.
During and following major snowfalls, City snow removal operation runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and operates with a small fleet of vehicles; four salt/sand trucks with belly plows, two graders and two loaders.  With this schedule and the equipment we have, it is reasonable to expect most areas of the City to be cleared within 3 or 4 days of a snowfall, depending on the amount of snow and how fast it comes down.
Residents are encouraged to review the City's Snow and Ice Removal policy to understand how and why the City clears its snow the way it does.
Clearing snow is not just the responsibility of the City Public Works department, which does the best they can with the resources available to keep the community moving during the winter months.  Responsibility also lies with each resident and business owner to help clear around their home or business.
“Regularly clearing ice and snow from your sidewalks and driveways will allow much easier access to your property by the fire department, RCMP or paramedics should an accident or other emergencies happen.” says Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services Chief Wayne Price, adding “it also will make walking easier for our local mail and newspaper carriers and the public at large.”

Residents are also encouraged to avoid pushing or blowing snow from their sidewalks, driveways and any windrows back into the street, after the City plows have been by.

Remembering Pete Seeger

Geothermal in Nova Scotia

Homes that are heated by geothermal pay very little after the initial outlay, for their heating and summer cooling.  Is this energy source explored to the maximum here in the Kootenays? We have natural hot springs, old mines (which may or not hold water) and sewage settling ponds all of which one might think would hold above average temperatures.  If a home can be heated with a small geothermal installation, how much more might be heated from these sources?  Greenhouses for year round food supply come to mind.  Food for thought.

January 24, 2014

Springhill has final provincial approval to open Nova Scotia's first municipal geothermal program.
Natural Resources Minister Zach Churchill signed a special lease to give the project the go-ahead.
"This is about supporting jobs and the community, while helping Springhill businesses and property owners benefit from this efficient, clean energy source," said Mr. Churchill.
Historic underground coalmine workings in Springhill contain about 49 billion litres of water.
The water is heated by geothermal energy from the Earth. The mines' depths make underground water as much as 11 C higher than normal groundwater temperatures. The water can be used to heat buildings, then returned underground to be reheated by natural processes.
"With this special lease, we can exploit a vast renewable and sustainable green energy source for the Town of Springhill and the Municipality of the County of Cumberland," said Mayor Maxwell Snow. "This program will help to develop Springhill's geothermal resource and possibly lead to creating a utility that will help all of Nova Scotia, the economy and the environment."
The province is committed to exploring alternative energy sources and reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Profit Is Not Always the Point

We frequently hear that local government needs to do more to help sustain the businesses within a community.  This TED Talk turns that around.   "Business has to play its role in serving the the societies which actually sustain them."

Friday, January 24, 2014

On line Images - Beware

Don't Spare the Sand

Cranbrook Courier, Jan. 30th, 1945
click to enlarge

Icy Sidewalks


Thank you Michael for speaking on this perennial topic.  I believe I am correct in saying the City bylaw for snow and ice  removal on sidewalks,  applies only to businesses.  There is however an expectation that out of courtesy to all other walkers, home owners will clear the sidewalks in front of their properties.  After Councillor Warner tackled this subject for Willowbrook Estates at a recent Council Meeting there seems to be a better understanding of responsibility on their part and their sidewalk has been completely cleared.  I do believe I also heard, at a recent Council meeting that Mayor Stetski has asked for this issue and the bylaw to be revisited.

It would be a shame in my view, that bylaw enforcement must be enacted just because common decency is lacking in some.  There are areas such as 7th Avenue where I have been able to walk for quite some time – the snow was cleared by nearly 100% of residents and what is usually more important for safety, sand or an ice melt was also distributed on the sidewalk.  At the very least, if homeowners cannot clear the ice, a non-slip material could be spread over it.  11th Avenue, my main route to downtown is clear as of January 14th except for the sidewalks in the 300’s block where I must take to the road.  Route finding must be treated as a game and indeed I find, in common with the local game, I must walk in the road with them by necessity.

To be fair, it is not always easy for some to keep their sidewalks clear - working, physical ability, shady areas all make it more difficult but there are ways around those things.  As I play my route finding game I try to come up with ways of solving this perennial problem.  Apart from residents taking their responsibility seriously and doing what they can, I think it might sometimes be up to the pedestrians themselves.  I don’t wish to carry a bucket of sand with me wherever I go and I do not wish to stop walking but the thought has often arisen that if a garbage bin of sand was available I could get the sand and spread it myself.  If homeowners were to sweep the road in front of their residence in the spring and place the grit in a garbage bin at the edge of the sidewalk once icy conditions existed, an appropriate material, no purchase necessary, to avoid dangerous conditions would be at the ready for both homeowner and passerby to use if necessary. 

Current City bylaws do not always work due to lack of enforcement so I have to wonder whether extending snow and ice clearing into a bylaw would be any different.

Michael's Musings

Snow on city sidewalks hazardous for everyone in Cranbrook 

By Michael J Morris

While I like to deny that I have entered into the Winter of my years, in one respect at least, I guess I am getting there. For the first time since arriving in Cranbrook 24 and a half years ago, this Winter, on occasion, I have been accepting rides from friends.

I really did not want to accept this kindness, but the snow covered icy state of the city sidewalks left me with little choice, if I did not want to simply hibernate for the Winter. 

But I have not surrendered completely as I continue to go for a walk each day, and along the way, share with fellow walkers, comments such as "deplorable", "dangerous", "disgusting" and  "treacherous" as we baby step our way, looking for the safest route. 

One morning I chatted at an intersection with a lady, perhaps a bit younger than me who had plotted her route to the superstores, and she gave me the complete details -- the safest route to walk. And she was serious!

I know the city has a bylaw that requires sidewalks considered not public to be cleared, but quite frankly, in many parts of Cranbrook, that is a joke, and I sure don't see any evidence that any attempt is made to enforce it.

In a research report in 2008, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 'Smart Growth, Livable and Sustainable Communities for Seniors', found that most Canadian communities have made minimal progress in achieving smart growth and livable growth. And that is despite the fact that within 12 years Canadians 55 and over will account for 35% of the population -- doubling the size of the current 55 plus population.

In a section on Neighbourhood Walkability, it notes that "Smart growth streetscape planning for seniors must include attention to small details, such as the availability of sidewalks in good repair and resting places along pedestrian routes, which, in combination, have significant impacts on the ability of older residents to take advantage of pedestrian routes. 

"Planning for walkable communities is an important component in allowing seniors to live independently. Design plans that feature walkability create safe environments for seniors, facilitate community engagement, reduce feelings of isolation, and promote active lifestyles – all  of which are essential for successful aging in place."

One of those "small details" assuredly includes ensuring that the sidewalks are safe in the Winter months -- and while I have focused on Seniors because I happen to be in that demographic group, the safety of all citizens who venture out should be a paramount concern of the municipal council.

I wondered what other communities were doing and discovered that the city of Edmonton, Alberta, has a community standards bylaw.

In an introduction on its web site it states: "Snow that remains on sidewalks is hazardous for everyone, but especially for people with limited mobility who may be severely injured from a fall on ice or snow. Uncleared walkways also make it difficult for people who deliver services in our city - mail carriers, meter readers, delivery drivers, firefighters, and paramedics."

Citizens in Edmonton, like Cranbrook are required to remove snow, but interestingly, there, if one wishes to make a complaint a phone number is available, or an online form may be completed. Upon investigation, a citizen may be warned to fix it, fined or billed for the sidewalk clearing.

Perhaps in this municipal election year, council members seeking re-election will find time to address the "small detail" of improving snow removal from city sidewalks. Thanks to my friends who have provided me rides, but I really do prefer to walk.

 My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What's Happening......

Through to January 31st

'To tell a Story'
Exhibit at the Cranbrook and District Arts Council Gallery
Work by Mount Baker Grade 12 students and Marisa Phillips

Cranbrook Public Library
Acrylic Paintings by Joki

Fort Steele
Outdoor Skating
9:30 - 3:30pm every day

Saturday January 25th

Intermediate Origami with Steve Bondy
This workshop is sold out
call Marisa at Cranbrook and District Arts Council 250-426-4223
for information about the next workshop to be held in February

Oscar Lopez
Key City Theatre
Tickets, $35 at the box office

Robbie Burns Night
Prestige Inn
Tickets $35 adults $20 for youth, Children 5 and under $5
Nicole @

Monday January 27th
GoGo Grannies Meet
7:00pm Superstore Community Room

Cranbrook and District Arts Council
Writers Group
135 10th Av S.

Tuesday January 28th

Cranbrook and District Arts Council
Funtastik Singers

Get your tickets now for:
The Symphony of the Kootenays Concert, 'Sultans of String'
Key City Theatre

Ballet Jorgan
February 11th

Rockies Film Series March 6th -8th
Lotus Books

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


by Helen Duckworth

Cranbrook and District Arts Council is pleased to introduce Cindy Hagen as the instructor for an exciting new workshop at the Cranbrook and District Arts Council.  (See poster to the right)

Zentangle! It’s fun to read and even more fun to say but what is Zentangle? The Zentangle Method is an easy to learn, relaxing and fun way to create beautiful images using drawn, structured patterns. An up-and-coming art form, seen recently in areas of contemporary graphic design and graphic novels, The Zentangle method uses pigma pens to draw structured intertwining patterns. Pigma pens are different in that they use pigments instead of dyes and are fast drying, which makes the practice challenging, rewarding and long-lasting. These creations are drawn on to small 3 ½ inch square paper tiles to create delicate pieces that are intricate works of art.
Instructor Cindy was first introduced to Zentangle after seeing a print advertisement for a workshop at Centre 64 in Kimberley in September of 2012. As someone who was interested in art, but was hesitant to try a class, Cindy saw Zentangle as a perfect outlet for her creativity. ‘It’s suitable for people of all ages and artistic skills levels’, she says ‘you can draw as often or as little as you want, draw for fifteen minutes or for five days, and create beautiful and interesting pieces, no two are ever the same!’
When asked what makes Zentangle different from other art forms, Cindy explains ‘you’re using quality materials, so you get quality results. Not only that, but the materials needed for Zentangle are small and lightweight, therefore more portable.’ The skills and techniques you learn in Zentangle can also be applied to other art practices. Finished tiles can be framed, collaged or you can use the art style in your other artworks with Zentanlges showing up on cards, in scrapbooking, on canvas running shoes and more besides!
Zentangle can also be a collaborative and social medium, with students in classes sharing ideas, admiring other’s works or even ‘sharing a tangle’ by passing a tile around the room and having each student add a component.
Zentangle isn’t just about creating beautiful artwork though. Many students and educators of the style cite it as a ‘practice,’ similar to yoga, in that it’s a form of creative relaxation. ‘It’s so wonderful!’ Cindy enthuses, ‘people are so busy in their lives, they’re too busy doing nice things for other people to stop and do something rewarding for them’ and Zentangle can be just that.
Having taken a basic and an advanced course herself, Cindy took it upon herself to become a Certified Zentangle Instructor in October of 2013 and now teaches classes here in Cranbrook. You can take a class at the Cranbrook and District Arts Council on Saturday, February 1 between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
For $35, you’ll not only get two hours of professional instruction from a certified Zentangle instructor, but you’ll also get your own Zentangle kit in a pouch with a pigma pen and tiles of your own. Pre-registration is required so call 250-426-4223 or register via today to avoid disappointment!
To find out more information about workshops, or the Cranbrook and District Arts Council in general, please contact Marisa via or call on 250-426-4223, or visit their website

Cheap Heat

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Post Notes for the Council Meeting of January 20th, 2014

A Special presentation was made to Karin Penner for her many years of service to the Chamber of Commerce.

Anna Jordan and Katherine Hough: Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy Update on the Immigrant Welcome Centre
There are 18 coordinators of this program through the East and West Kootenays and a budget of between 2 and 3 million dollars is provided by government.  An overview of current programs for children, immigrants and  seniors was provided.  A City appointed representative was requested to sit of the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy or CBAL.  Family Literacy Day will be celebrated on the Manual Training Building on January 27th beginning at 5:30pm.  An award for creative writing will be presented to a student who participated in the program through the school district.

Council Inquiries
Councillor Pallesen read a letter concerning road markings and timing at certain traffic lights, including one at Victoria and 2nd St.  The letter was referred to Cranbrook in Motion.
Councillor Warner asked for a comprehensive look at time allowances at pedestrian crossings.  In his research he has found the time allowed to be an average of 6 seconds.  He found two crosswalks with longer time allowances but he felt the 6 seconds is not long enough for many to clear the crosswalk.  The matter was referred to administration.

7.1 Administration Update
The full report can be read at:

9.1 - 9.9 Correspondence beginning
9.1  Government and First Responder.  Concerns have been expressed regarding the sometimes duplication and unnecessary expense associated emergency responses.
 "The results of the review reduced the number of call types requiring a lights and siren response and/or Advanced Life Support ambulances to attend. The review also found that first responders were not required to attend 35 per cent of the medical calls that they are now notified of by BCAS because the patients do not require their medical services. Additionally, if a first responder is assigned a lower priority medical call, there is an increased risk that they are not available to respond to calls of a critical nature where they can have the greatest impact on a patient's outcome. The RAP does not affect the other services fire departments provide such as scene safety or vehicle extraction. A report summarizing the RAP review is available online at http://www.bcas.calabout-us/reports-statistics/. If you wish to respond to all the incidents, irrespective of the response rating, this is an issue that we would be pleased to discuss with you."

9.2 Praise given to Pacific Coastal

9.3 CBT Community Initiatives
Grants are now open for 2014. Closing date for applications is February 17th.

9.4 RDEK Highlights
A letter is being send to the Provincial Government regarding the slow progress on construction of the Homeless Shelter for Cranbrook

9.5 Thank you for Donation

9.6 Invermere Urban Deer Management
A meeting with MLA Bennett is scheduled for Friday January 24th concerning the matter of Urban Deer Control.

9.7 Request for sponsorship for Miss Teen Canada World Pageant
As this is a personal pursuit no sponsorship was approved.

9.8 Speed Limits Victoria and 10th St

9.9 Snow ploughing of Kelowna Crescent

Family Literacy Week
January 26th to 31st Proclaimed

New Business

12.1 Resolution from Councillor Whetham
THAT the following resolution be submitted for consideration at the 2014 Annual General Meeting of the AKLBG:
'WHEREAS current legislation governing subdivision and development is dated and does not adequately serve the needs of local governments or the development community;
AND WHEREAS legislation in neighbouring jurisdictions provide greater certainty for both developers and the public through more responsive provisions for permitting and approvals;
NOW THEREFORE the government be requested to initiate a review of Part 26 of the Local Government Act and related planning and development legislation and consult with the UBCM regarding appropriate changes".
Councillor Bob Whetham
Councillor Whetham spoke to the resolution and referred to the potential confusing process of a simple PLA (Preliminary Layout Approval)being issued before approval of a complete planning/structural process being approved.  This existing process has the potential to lead to poor construction and later expensive remediation for all parties.
This motion carried with Councillor Scott opposed.

12.2  Downtown City Block Planning
The results of the charette can be found at the link above.  Councillor Scott expressed the need to know that the City's needs were being taken into consideration. It was explained to her that there was extensive consultation before the public planning process.

12.3  Appointments to Environment and Utilities Committees
James Elliott and Bill Goss were appointed.

12.4  Appointments to Economic Development Committee
Helder Ponte was appointed.

12.5  Approving Officer Appointment
Curtis Penson was appointed to replace Jamie Hodge who has retired.
Municipal Election officer appointments.
Brian Wooff and Betty Wardle(deputy)


13.1 Council Procedure 3786
This new procedure which was adopted will place more important New Business items closer to the beginning of meetings.

13.2 Board of Variance 3787
To increase the number of regular scheduled meetings of the Board of Variance from four to six on the second Tuesday of February, April, June, August, October, and December.

13.3 Zoning Change 3788
To consider first and second reading of an amendment to the City's Zoning Bylaw to change and add new definitions, and to amend the C-6 Tourist Commercial Zone to better clarify regulations and permissible uses for an RV park development located on the Mission Hills Golf Course property.
1st and 2nd Readings carried after some concern expressed about the potential for more than temporary use  of these lots.

13.4 Zoning for Medical Marijuana 3789
To consider first and second reading and referrals for a bylaw to amend the City of Cranbrook Zoning Bylaw 3737, 2012, to enable Medical Marijuana Grow Operations (MMGOs) with associated regulations to locate within an industrial zone in anticipation of new Federal regulations concerning the licensing of MMGOs.
Both 1st and 2nd readings carried

Monday, January 20, 2014

Advance Council Notes for the Meeting of January 20th, 6:00pm


Anna Jordan and Katherine Hough: Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy Update on the Immigrant Welcome Centre

7.1 Administration Update

9.1 - 9.9 Correspondence beginning
9.1  Government and First Responder
9.2 Praise given to Pacific Coastal
9.3 CBT Community Initiatives
9.4 RDEK Highlights
9.5 Thank you for Donation
9.6 Invermere Urban Deer Management
9.7 Request for sponsorship for Miss Teen Canada World Pageant
9.8 Speed Limits Victoria and 10th St
9.9 Snow ploughing of Kelowna Crescent

Family Literacy Week

New Business

12.1 Resolution from Councillor Whetham
THAT the following resolution be submitted for consideration at the 2014 Annual General Meeting of the AKLBG:
'WHEREAS current legislation governing subdivision and development is dated and does not adequately serve the needs of local governments or the development community;
AND WHEREAS legislation in neighbouring jurisdictions provide greater certainty for both developers and the public through more responsive provisions for permitting and approvals;
NOW THEREFORE the government be requested to initiate a review of Part 26 of the Local Government Act and related planning and development legislation and consult with the UBCM regarding appropriate changes".
Councillor Bob Whetham

12.2  Downtown City Block Planning

12.3  Appointments to Environment and Utilities Committees

12.4  Appointments to Economic Development Committee

12.5  Approving Officer Appointment


13.1 Council Procedure 3786

13.2 Board of Variance 3787
To increase the number of regular scheduled meetings of the Board of Variance from four to six on the second Tuesday of February, April, June, August, October, and December.

13.3 Zoning Change 3788
To consider first and second reading of an amendment to the City's Zoning Bylaw to change and add new definitions, and to amend the C-6 Tourist Commercial Zone to better clarify regulations and permissible uses for an RV park development located on the Mission Hills Golf Course property.

13.4 Zoning for Medical Marijuana 3789
To consider first and second reading and referrals for a bylaw to amend the City of Cranbrook Zoning Bylaw 3737, 2012, to enable Medical Marijuana Grow Operations (MMGOs) with associated regulations to locate within an industrial zone in anticipation of new Federal regulations concerning the licensing of MMGOs.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flicker Photographer Joel Robinson

Meet Cranbrook's Joel Robinson:

Mallards Unlimited

It's no wonder these ducks resident alongside the Tamarack Mall appear to be continually smiling.  Their Joseph Creek is close by and probably too many visitors see fit to provide extra, also probably unsuitable extra nibbles.

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Tell a Story

Coyote is seduced by seven fish monsters disguised as beautiful women.
An energetic reception for the ‘To Tell a Story’ exhibit was held at the Cranbrook and District Arts Council Gallery last evening January 16th.  The exhibit of senior Mount Baker students’ and Marisa Phillips work was coordinated by Marisa Phillips, Mt. Baker High School art teacher Cheryl Wilkinson and the Cranbrook and District Arts Council. Over 100 people throughout the evening enjoyed the multi-media installations and displays at the reception.  The exhibit continues until the end of January.

Kaitlyn Hoeksema performs a hoop dance.

Wolf/Katie Purvis demonstrates her sketching skills.


Marisa Phillips introduces a performance

Rory Knihnicki performs a hoop dance

Michael's Musings

Creating a Vision for Viable Sustainable Communities

By Michael J Morris

The Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute recently released its 2013 State of the Basin report, which serves as a benchmark to increase understanding and promote discussion in the region, according to Dr. Terri Macdonald, regional innovation chair.

In a report in Kootenay Business, Dr. Macdonald said, "“The goal is to benchmark and increase our collective understanding of well-being in the region and to promote discussion on where we are at and where we might want to go. In this report we provide a picture of this region at a given moment in time in a report that explores economic, social, cultural and environmental conditions and trends.”

The report contains valuable information that will enable community leaders, including municipal councils and school boards, businesses, investors, non-profits and individuals to make decisions that will enhance the work already being done to make the region stronger, according to the Kootenay Business story. 
"Working on the four pillars of the region – economic, social, cultural and environmental – the report gauges issues like the business climate, consumer confidence and a breakdown of growth sectors. It also explores areas like traffic volumes on regional highways, high school completion rates in each community and volunteer trends. Many aspects of life in the Columbia Basin are touched on in the report."

I have not worked my way through the entire report but decided to share a snapshot of some of its findings most particularly because 2014 is a municipal election year in British Columbia, and it provides valuable information that may very well form the basis for a healthy discussion and creation of a a vision for viable sustainable communities.
Here are some findings:
Although in 2013 the region experienced job growth for the second year in a row, what does the future hold, especially in terms of keeping young people in their communities.  In the key demographic of 19-24 year olds, the population of has declined by 23% in the last 2 years -- not a good sign
Also, most School Districts have experienced decreased enrollment over the last five years -- certainly not good news, but I hear very little about how this reality is being addressed, other than 20th century attitudes towards education. And, in interests of full disclosure, I taught at the secondary and post-secondary levels for 32 years.
The report notes that Seniors are expected to comprise 25% of the region’s population over the next 10 years and having joined that group, I would respectfully suggest that, at least in Cranbrook, the community is not well prepared. More on that one at a later date!
It notes that 86% of residents believe the water from their tap is safe to drink while 79% of dwellings are occupied by those who reside here at least 6 months a year. That indicates 21% are spending time elsewhere, not fully contributing to their local economy.
Over 4,000 residents visited a food bank in March 2012, sad news, but seemingly a reality of our times.
Half of the residents volunteer which I suppose is positive but seems low to me.
One in 3 residents say that the culture in the region is a significant reason why they live here and 1 in 4 residents have volunteered for a cultural initiative over the past year. Seems low.
Perhaps the most positive news in the snapshot was that 92% of residents feel that spending time outside is important to their quality of life.
The Columbia Basin Trust transferred responsibility of the State of the Basin initiative in 2011 when a partnership was created with Selkirk College to create the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute.
“The release of the 2013 report is really just the beginning of our work at the RDI,” says Dr. Macdonald. “We now look forward to working with communities to support their efforts in using this data.”
For more information I encourage you to visit, to sign up for the RDI e-newsletter, and to explore the full text of the long report and the snapshot report. Access to the online survey can also be found using the links from the homepage.

My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What's Happening.......

Thursday January 16th

Story Telling through Media and Performance 
- a joint exhibit of Mount Baker students and Marisa Phillips
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Cranbrook and District Arts Council Gallery
135, Tenth Avenue South

Joint exhibit "To Tell a Story"
continues Tuesday through Saturday
until January 31st
Gallery hours
11:00am - 5:00pm Tues - Friday
10:00am - 2:00pm Saturday

Every Day
Fort Steele Outdoor Skating
9:30am - 3:30pm

Saturday January 25th

Cranbrook and District Arts Council
Intermediate Origami
with Steve Bondy
135, Tenth Avenue South

Oscar Lopez
Key City Theatre
Tickets $35

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Batteries and Fires - a safety message

Regarding anonymous comments

Anonymous comments are no longer accepted on this blog.  All comments even if signed 'Anonymous' must be accompanied at the close of the comment with a legal verifiable name.

Appreciate this note Gerry:
I would like to congratulate The Guardian for its new comments policy -- namely no more anonymous comments -- because it's the right thing to do and I believe it will lead to a far more elevated discussion of local issues when people have to stand behind what they say and not just maliciously slag each other and other groups. Other on-line publications seem to be heading in this direction too so it looks like you're on the cutting edge of the trend.
Good for you and good for The Guardian.
Ciao . . .

Gerry Warner

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Message from Mayor Stetski, January 2014

About Cranbrook….

I believe in the concept of life long learning. Each day and every new experience teaches us and enriches our lives. As your Mayor, I work for you, so I want to share with you some of the rather unique but important things I’ve learned about the City of Cranbrook over the last two years.

For every dollar we pay in total taxes only $0.08 goes to municipalities, $0.50 goes to the Federal Government, and $0.42 goes to the Province. That 8 cents has to cover many of the services that are most important to us on a daily basis – water; sewer; roads; storm water management; police; fire service; parks; recreation; grants to support community groups, volunteers, the public library, the Chamber of Commerce, the arts; transit; garbage pick-up and disposal; replacement of infrastructure and airport improvements. This inequity is an issue across Canada, and it needs to change.

The primary way for municipalities to raise money to provide those services is through property taxes and fees. Cranbrook’s total city revenue for 2013 was expected to be $55,698,708. A home assessed at $300,000 pays $5.63/day for all services, with the highest cost areas being the services provided by Engineering and Public Works (20.8%), Policing (19.4%), Infrastructure Projects (13.7%), Recreation, including Western Financial Place (11%) and Fire Services (9.6%). Water, sewer, and garbage cost homeowners an additional $2.37/day. In total (includes RCMP and Fire) there are 171 staff working for the city to provide these services.

Property taxes = services as outlined above. Every $200,000 that the city needs in new money results in a 1% increase in property taxes. At times City Councils will decide that a 0% increase, or even a decrease, in property taxes is the right thing to do, but here is the challenge – you have to reduce services and your infrastructure deficit (the condition of your roads, sidewalks, water and sewer pipes, etc.) increases. Engineering staff tell us that we are way behind on keeping up on infrastructure – about $107 million behind. Every city in Canada is in the same position – aging infrastructure that costs billions of dollars to replace. Can we do it on our $.08? No, which is why we need Federal and Provincial grant dollars.

Previous Cranbrook Councils decided to begin addressing infrastructure problems by starting each year with an “automatic” 1% increase in property taxes to improve roads (raised $783,734 in 2013) and another 0.75% to create an emergency reserve fund for replacing infrastructure. This is a sound financial practice that this Council has supported to date, but it does mean that there is a minimum of a 1.75% annual increase in our property taxes “before we even consider what other initiatives are important to Cranbrook.” You can see our challenge!

We all need to do better in using our transit system. We cost share the bus system with BC Transit and you and I paid almost $570,000 in taxes in 2013 to keep the regular and Handi-transit buses rolling. This is an important service to our city, particularly for students, seniors and others who don’t own vehicles. We have met several times with BC Transit to discuss service improvements and to request smaller buses, but have been told that our buses aren’t scheduled for replacement until 2019. I have asked staff to work with BC Transit to move that date up. We keep every dollar that is collected in bus fares (Adults/College Students - $2.25, Seniors/Students to grade 12 - $2.00, Children 4 and under - free) so the best way for you to help is to take Transit in Cranbrook!

Unlike the Federal and Provincial Governments, municipalities like Cranbrook are not allowed to run a deficit. That does not, however, mean that we can not borrow money. It means that we need to be able to cover the payments on our loans within our revenue. The total amount we are allowed to borrow is set by the Province – in our case we can borrow up to approximately $90 million. Our current debt (2013) is around $37 million which means that we could borrow up to another $53 million (approximately). Our largest loans are for Western Financial Place (previously the Rec Plex), the public library building, the renovation to the Firehall and for our sewage treatment facilities. All long term borrowing requires public consent.

Moving away from financial learning I want to finish this article with a big compliment to you, the people of Cranbrook. I knew you were great; otherwise I wouldn’t have run for Mayor. But I have learned first-hand over the last two years just what a caring, compassionate and generous community we all live in. I attend over 100 events a year where I see fundraising goals reached, countless volunteers making a difference, and innovative ideas that move our great little city of 19,300+ forward in so many ways. There is an old African proverb that says “If you want to go faster, go alone. If you want to go further, go together.” We are a city that has mastered the art of going and growing forward – together!

Mayor Wayne Stetski

Monday, January 13, 2014

Habitat for Humanity, Cranbrook Open House

Once again, Cranbrook's community spirit was on full display Friday November 10th evening, when approximately 60 people attended the Habitat for Humanity Open House.  Unfortunately, Mark Rodgers (COO Habitat Canada), was stranded in the Toronto airport but Harvey Linnen, and Con Hnatiuk (Consultants - HJ Linnen Associates Ltd) arrived from Regina, and were scheduled to be involved in the merger talks on Saturday.  Ray Hanson (Chair), Rick Friesen (Executive Director) Habitat Boundary and Marc Allarie (Chair), Gary Drouin and several others from Habitat West Kootenay also attended the Open House.

There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the room as several more businesses stepped forward to become involved in the build in Cranbrook.  Representatives from Sunrise Rotary Club were also present.

The house plans were on display and a slide show of the work to date.  

Anyone wanting more information or wanting to get involved can contact:  Gord Johnston, Project Leader/Chair, Habitat for Humanity West Kootenay
Cranbrook Project, email:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Wildsight 2013 Report

Welcome to 2014, a year to make change and make a difference. 
I’m proud to share with you Wildsight’s 2013 Annual Report. It is a summary of what we accomplished - together.
Thank you for all that you did to make last year a wildly successful year. The work, accomplishments and successes of Wildsight are thanks to you and all of the committed individuals that make up the larger Wildsight Team. A special thanks to our members - your passion, support, volunteer efforts and dedication fuels us to making bigger, better changes. 
I invite you to explore it and share in the successes of 2013. Without you, we aren’t possible. 
Last year, we: 
  • Took 4,101 kids outside to connect with nature through 208 different classroom trips.
  • Drew international attention to the toxic levels of selenium in the Elk River and are actively participating with Teck, the Ktunaxa Nation and our communities in the process to right this toxic legacy.
  • Hosted the 2nd Annual Flathead Bioblitz – expert conducted bird and bat surveys further demonstrated the Flathead Valley’s high biodiversity, emphasizing the need to complete Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the BC Flathead.
  • ​ Rallied to keep the Jumbo Valley wild for yet another year!
  •  Worked with Canfor, the region’s largest timber company, to identify and protect forests of high conservation value, removing many critical areas from logging plans.
  • Co-hosted the Columbia Basin Watershed Symposium in connection with the Ktunaxa’s Salmon Festival. The symposium, featuring keynote John Ralston Saul, ignited discussion on watershed governance at a time when BC is re-writing it’s Water Act and deciding whether to renegotiate the Columbia River Treaty.
  • Trained 14 additonal people in either Streamkeepers or Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring. 61 people are now professionally trained to monitor their watersheds!
  • Connected seed to plate through our ever-expanding Food Sustainability programs across the region. We hosted Edible Garden Tours, hands-on garden workshops, a multi-day Grow for It Conference and linked students to local garden mentors in Golden Sprouts.
  • Offered free loan of fruit presses and dehydrators, turning apples into juice, sauce and fruit leather and reducing bear attractants at the same time.
  • Offered Wild Nature Tours in Invermere and Fernie, connecting tourists and locals alike to the wonders of their back yards.
  • Hosted the 1st Annual Creston Valley Bird Festival, bringing hundreds together to celebrate the biodiversity hot spot of the Creston Valley Wetlands and flightpath of thousands upon thousands of migrating birds.
Thank you for all that you do for the wild, 

Forever Fickle

Last weekend we posted Stewart's fabulous crystal photos - this week Elizabeth Lake's ice melts into slush.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Election Issue - Fluoride

Cranbrook will likely be faced with a referendum over the issue of whether Cranbrook water should continue to be fluoridated after the next election.  There is a mass of information available about fluoride.  It is up to the reader and viewer to sift through the available information in order to make an informed decision about how they will vote.
Here is just one documentary about fluoride:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Michael's Musings

Selkirk College set to launch program to address rural medical doctor shortage

By Michael J Morris

Selkirk College is launching a program in the Fall of 2014 to help provide a solution to the rural doctor shortage in Canada.

According to a college news release, Selkirk has created the Rural Pre-Medicine Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Program to be offered at its Castlegar Campus. The program will offer students wanting to pursue a career in medicine a three-year opportunity to learn at a rural college.

This is potentially great news for all communities in the East and West Kootenay regions of British Columbia as they face the challenges of recruiting new doctors who are likely to stay. 

And it is being developed locally although Selkirk in creating this program, has worked closely with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (a joint venture of the BC Medical Association, the Ministry of Health and the UBC Faculty of Medicine), Native Education College, the Interior Health Authority, Columbia Basin Trust, local physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care providers.

“Selkirk College understands rural life and the challenges of living away from urban centres,” says Selkirk President Angus Graeme. “We saw a need in this province and across the country for this type of start to a career in medicine. We are extremely pleased to be part of what could be an important piece of the solution.”

The news release notes that research suggests there are many factors that contribute to the ongoing and increasingly severe shortage of rural doctors in Canada. Medical schools and various levels of government have developed a wide range of programs and  strategies to address some of these contributing factors. Selkirk College believes much more can be done at both the undergraduate and high school levels to encourage and support talented rural and Aboriginal students who wish to become physicians.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine was set up at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay by the Ontario government to address the same issue of physician shortage in rural Northern Ontario communities. While I do not know the overall results, my home town of Chapleau, now has three full-time family physicians who are graduates of the program.

They are from Chapleau, and after following other career paths, took advantage of the new program, and upon graduation returned home to practise medicine. Chapleau had been without a full-time doctor for several years.

The news release notes that, "A rural upbringing, combined with positive undergraduate and graduate rural exposure prior to and during medical school, are two factors consistently cited in recent research as the most important factors in determining whether a student will ultimately choose to practice in a rural environment. Rural and Aboriginal students face both real and perceived economic, social and educational barriers to becoming a physician. This program will address these barriers and give students who are underrepresented in medical schools a strong, viable pathway towards becoming a physician."

For more information on the program, interested persons may contact Selkirk College. I hope Selkirk receives support for its proactive efforts to assist in solving the looming rural doctor shortage from all the key players - - schools, medical profession, municipal councils, parents with children possibly interested in a career in medicine -- in communities across the East and West Kootenay regions.

Your comments, as always, welcome. My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.
Note from Editor: