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.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017, by Gerry Warner

A few honest, but brutal thoughts about 2017

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Now that the year 2016 – what a bummer – is safely behind us, what can we look forward to in 2017? Internationally, I’d say cover your eyes. We know that death, horror and destruction is going to continue outside our borders so let’s concentrate our gaze on Cranbrook, which is still a pretty, good place to live despite all the mayhem happening abroad.

Get ready for major disruption on Second St. South. It’ll probably start around May or June and disrupt city driving all summer. But when it’s over a much improved driving experience will emergence for everyone on the south side not to mention tourists turning off Highway 3 only to encounter the kerklunk, kerklunk of Cranbrook’s residential road system. Does it justify borrowing $10 million to inflate the City’s road budget for a single year? Hard to say, but those opposed had their chance. Let’s get on with the job.

Speaking of jobs, the City is planning major upgrades to Idlewild Park and one being considered for the popular site is development of a swimming beach on the former City reservoir. There are pros and cons on this one. Cranbrook does lack a beach within City limits with Jim Smith, Wasa and Moyie Lakes being some distance away. However, I hope the City thinks hard about this one because Idlewild is easily accessible and a fine rustic environment for people and wildlife and a a crowded and noisy public beach is not exactly compatible with that.

Then there’s the old city Fire Hall, a fine brick edifice sitting unused and forlorn in the heart of the downtown with only a garish “For Sale” sign in front of it for company.  The ornate, two-storey building is one of only nine officially designated Municipal Heritage Properties in the city and received a Commercial Heritage Award in 1980. Yet there it sits mostly unused and empty since it closed in 2011 with rumors swirling about its future.

Will this fine building continue to languish in 2017 or will the City announce its plans? The previous City Council, of which I was a member, set aside $500,000 in its five-year capital plan to develop the heritage structure into a new Art Gallery, performing space and craft work shop facility for the city in conjunction with the Cranbrook Arts Council and spent more than $108,000 to remove the asbestos from the building to help this exciting project become a reality. The new council decided to take a different course, which it was entitled to do, subject to the provisions of the Cranbrook Community Heritage Register. Now it’s two years later and the fate of our heritage fire hall is still uncertain. Isn’t it about time the City announced its plans? Wouldn’t it be nice if Council reconsidered selling the building to the private sector and partnered with a group capable of repurposing it for the use and benefit of all Cranbrook residents instead of selling our silverware to the highest bidder.   

And while we’re on the subject of fate, we have to consider the fate of the City’s prime sport institution, which of course, is the Kootenay Ice, who have been playing better as of late. But regardless of how well or poor the Ice are playing the question hanging over the heads of the team is how much longer will they be playing in Cranbrook? The quick and brutal answer is not for long if crowds continue to average 1,500 or less at Western Financial Place.   

Continuing to be brutal but honest, I have to say I don’t believe the problem is a lack of marketing, as so many Ice fans like to claim, but rather the lack of warm buttocks in those comfortable seats. In other words, we the fans, are the problem – not Ice owner Jeff Chynoweth – who has delivered one Memorial Cup, three Memorial Cup appearances and took his team to the WHL playoffs 17 times.

That’s a damn outstanding record! It’s an incredible achievement for any owner and general manager whose job is to put a winning team on the ice. Therefore, I can only maintain, if we lose the Ice in 2017 it’s our own damn fault!

Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who places the Kootenay Ice second only to his beloved Trail Smoke Eaters.

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