From 2016 to 2017, College of the Rockies experienced a 14.6% increase in students
The word is out about Cranbrook
Lee Pratt, mayor and lifelong resident of Cranbrook, calls his home a largely undiscovered area of B.C.—but initially, it’s difficult to understand why he describes its this way, given the increasing number of people who are flocking to this southeastern city of 19,500 people.
Cranbrook is witnessing a larger influx of new residents from Vancouver than from Calgary, the latter of which has traditionally regarded the city as its playground. And in 2018, Cranbrook generated a total of $44.2 million in building permits—an unprecedented achievement considering the figure hovered at $13 million in 2013.
Like many resource-dependent locales, Cranbrook’s policy makers have actively diversified their economic base, which has resulted in the rezoning of 40 hectares of land in the downtown area.
“We already have occupation licences on three lots, and our intention is to grow this into an industrial business park that attracts high-paying jobs,” says Pratt.
Local government is hardly alone in its pro-business initiatives as $10 million was recently invested in the College of the Rockies to create a new trades training facility to further develop these opportunities.
But none of these efforts would amount to much if they weren’t augmented by lifestyle desirability, and on that score, Cranbrook and its surroundings are all about lifestyle—which is attracting attention from all points of the compass.
“It’s a cliché to say we have it all, but we really do,” says Pratt. “And in the rare instance there is something lacking, then Calgary is only a four-hour drive, Spokane is three hours away and Kelowna is six.”
The Cranbrook region of 2019 is well known for its superb bike trails, ski hills and fishing as it is for being a major service hub for the forestry and mining industries. Hunting, camping, snowshoeing—virtually every type of outdoor activity can be enjoyed and this is enhanced by the fact that, according to Environment Canada, Cranbrook has the most sunshine hours of any B.C. city (2,190.5 hours annually).
“Golf is another sport strongly associated with us,” says Pratt. “We have 20 courses within a 100-kilometre radius.”
Additionally, Cranbrook has an active arts community with its 600-seat Key City Theatre, the Western Financial Place multi-purpose recreational facility and a 4,500-seat arena.
And then there’s the icing on the cake: the reason compelling Vancouverites young and old to move to Cranbrook.
“An average single detached home here costs about $330,000,” said Pratt. “We’re affordable in so many aspects and we’re busy building new residences to keep up with the demand.”
So why does Pratt—who says that throughout the decades he’s had plenty of chances to live elsewhere—call Cranbrook an undiscovered B.C. locale?
Primarily because he believes the living and business opportunities have only begun.
“Our new industrial park will be a huge game changer for our economy, and our popularity will continue to build,” he says. “One example is our Canadian Rockies International Airport, which is the second fastest-growing airport in all of Canada,” he says.
While Pratt and his colleagues are proud of the gains Cranbrook has made, they’re focused far more on the strengths to come.
“Between new industry, our existing status as a service centre, our strong tourism sector and our reputation as the transportation hub of southeastern B.C., we’re moving forward quickly,” he says. “New residents have a lot to discover and enjoy here.”