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.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday at the Cranbrook Farmer's Market

Just got back from the market – fresh brick-oven bread, home-cured sausage, Wasa grown tomatoes, local basil, New Lake honey, resisted the raspberry pie but we’re set for lunch. All locally produced fresh food. Fabulous.

Friday, July 30, 2010

North American Orienteering Championships Held in Cranbrook!

The North American Orienteering Championships were held in Cranbrook in July. Over 500 competitiors from all over the world took part including the Canadian National Orienteering Team. The competitors LOVED the Cranbrook Community Forest. Thanks to the organizers and all the volunteers who made this a spectacular world class event.

Add caption
Eric Kemp, with the Canadian National Orienteering Team during the Middle Distance Event on July 2, 2010. Eric's team mate, Mike Smith, is the Men's North American Orienteering Champion. Yeah Canada!! The Canadian team are currently in Norway for the World Orienteering Championships.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cranbrook from Community Forest

Wild Mock Orange in Bloom

What's Happening

Learn to Fish in the Kootenays!

This is a great program for those who have never fished and want to learn how!

The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC's Kootenay Trout Hatchery is offering Learn to Fish programs this summer.

If you are interested in participating in a Learn to Fish program at the Hatchery, please contact them to set up an appointment:

Phone: (250) 429-3214


The Hatchery is able to book programs seven days a week between 10:00am and 3:00pm.

Please bring your own sunscreen, bug spray and a lunch. All other fishing gear is supplied!

Kootenay Outdoor Club

EKOC Sunday August 1 - Chisel Peak: Rock scamble a moderately exposed ridgeline on a mountain at the head of Madias Creek, east of Windemere. 3/3/3 Call Steve 427-7848

At Artrageous Gallery

Last chance to see;

VISUAL ARTS Current Exhibit

July 6th - July 30th

The Art of Drawing and Sculpting

Coming up ;

August 3rd

Summer Member's Exhibit

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

After a shock there’s nothing like a good cup of tea – blue nitrogen tea that is and only if you are a tree

On Tuesday, July 27th, during the violent storm that hit the area, two of the trees in Rotary Park were affected by a lightning strike to the sidewalk. It appears the lightning hit the sidewalk, then travelled to two trees. Severe damage and often death of the tree can occur after such a shock. Interior damage is not always visible and so in the pictures Simone, Cranbrook City Arborist can be seen pumping a nitrogen solution to the roots in order to assist the old tree recover. The hit to the sidewalk can be seen beside the hose.  Cranbrook is very fortunate to have recently gained several staff members who are qualified and experienced in the field of horticulture.

The black spot and bark removal is more evidence of the strike.

A nitrogen solution is pumped about 20 cm into the ground to reach the roots.
More on our important urban forest will be published in the future.

Development Cost Charges; A Hot Button Issue

Development Cost Charges have become a hot button issue in many communities around BC. This is a letter to the editor of the Rossland Telegraph.  It stuck a chord with us as there are many similarities between Rossland and Cranbrook when it comes to discussing DCC rates. As a note, Rosslands DCC rates are already over $1000.00 higher than Cranbrooks. Isn't it about time for Cranbrook to address our DCC rates?
To the editor:

Rossland Council has given developers another break which will ultimately be at the expense of taxpayers. At a recent meeting, Council decided not to consider a revised Development Cost Charge (DCC) bylaw until 2011. The ostensible reason given for the delay was the “infrastructure assessment” that is to be undertaken this year.
The “infrastructure assessment” consists of two phases. Phase 1 is a pavement condition assessment of all the roads in Rossland. Phase 2 will include the results of the pavement condition assessment in the existing
Geographical Information System (GIS) database.

None of the DCC projects involve the condition of the existing roads. Thus the “infrastructure assessment” provides absolutely no basis for delaying amendment of the DCC bylaw because it has nothing to do with any proposed DCC projects. Waiting for completion of the “infrastructure assessment” simply provides Council with a convenient excuse to off-load costs that should be paid by developers onto the tax bill paid by homeowners.

DCCs are fees the City can collect from new development to help pay the cost of off-site infrastructure services that are needed to accommodate growth. DCCs are generally collected in advance of the need to install the infrastructure services required by new development. The priority for DCC projects is determined by the amount of development occurring. The priority is not determined by the condition of existing infrastructure.

Council was informed in the spring of 2007 that the DCC bylaw then in place needed to be updated to reflect increasing construction costs over those that existed when the current bylaw was amended in February 2006. A draft DCC bylaw was presented to Council in June 2008 by consultants hired by the City
at a cost of $50,000 to review the existing bylaw. Public consultation was undertaken and a revised version of the consultants report was submitted to the City in July 2009. This revised report was not circulated to Council until June 2010. No explanation for this delay has been provided to Council.
By the time Council gets around to considering the DCC bylaw, the information provided by the consultant will be outdated and the whole process will have to be redone. The money spent for the current review has been wasted. DCCs that are collected from on-going development at the current low rates will not be enough to pay for the projects required to support development in the future. The result will be taxpayers paying the difference.

Taxpayers in Rossland have subsidized development in Rossland to the tune of over $2,000,000 already. Delaying the review of the DCC bylaw will only increase that subsidy. I think Council needs to think about who they are representing.

Laurie Charlton

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We Like Growth - Smart Growth

SmartGrowth is a series of progressive principles regarding development based on fiscal, social and environmental values. These principles should provide for transparent, predictable, and cost effective development. Our goal is to share ideas for creating a more environmentally, socially and fiscally conscious community which benefits all its residents.
Some of the principles include;

-Mixed Land Use Development
-Compact Neighbourhoods
-Investment in Infrastructure
-Preservation of Green Space
-Diverse Housing Options
-Emphasis on Green Building to save money and help the environment
-Engaged Citizens

Whats your vision for Cranbrook?

Lets start the discussion here!!

To learn more about SmartGrowth go to

Monday, July 26, 2010

Around Town and Looking Good

Look great, feel great and these look great.  Thanks to the city crews who look after these fabulous baskets and thanks to these businesses who show pride in their appearance.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Community Forest Before and After the Flood

Thank you to three very special citizens who took it upon themselves to restore recent flood damage inflicted on a well-used area of the Community Forest. A little birdie told us one of these three gentlemen who walk regularly in the Community Forest just happens to be some 87 years young!

THANK YOU for your caring and we appreciate you.

Whats Happening...

This weekend the weather is supposed to be hot and sunny. Why not head out to the Rails to Trails.


Its a great addition to Cranbrook and Kimberley

Cranbrook to Kimberley Rails to Trails

Plan your trips with EveryTrail Mobile Travel Guides

Rather cool down?

............and enjoy the serenity of a quiet lake paddle on one of the local lakes?

If you are in the market for a canoe or kayak there are a few fabulous options for checking them out.

Just Liquid Sports will be at Moyie Lake this coming Sunday July25th with a selection of boats to test out free of charge. Just Liquid Sports also has their crafts available for rent on Community Paddle Night, which takes place on Wednesdays. 250-489-2837

High Country Sportswear will tailor a kayak/canoe try out-time to suit your needs. You just need to book a time with Iain at the store. 250-489-4661

Might like some landscaping ideas?

If you would like to know more about landscaping with native plants Wildsight is hosting an Open House at the Marysville Falls Eco Park on Saturday July24th between 10:00am and 3:00pm.  This park has been planted with many native grasses, shrubs and perennials.  Staff will be on hand to identify and inform about these native plants many of which are drought resistant.  For more information contact Liam Cullen at 250-427-2535 or

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

If Calgary is talking about it why isn't Cranbrook?

If other municpalities are starting to question the cost involved in providing services to new developments in their city then why is Cranbrook not doing the same?  Our Development Cost Charges (what we charge to a developer to provide city services) are some of the lowest in the East Kootenays.  With  City of Cranbrook taxes increasing isn't it about time to have a discussion about how much developers should actually be paying.   Please comment and let us know what you think. Lets start the discussion here.

The following is a article from the Calgary Herald by Jason Makusoff.

New suburbs asked to shoulder higher share of infrastructure costs
Builders say movewould cost $10,000 perhouse

Construction of new homes, seen here on March 12, 2010, is thriving in the new section of Cranston in Calgary's deep south. Calgary's land developers and new homebuyers will pay more of the costs of new suburban infrastructure under a plan that got aldermen's early endorsement Wednesday.
For nearly a decade, the full costs of water and sewer lines for Calgary's newest suburbs have been paid by the whole city, and city officials are warning that could send propel utility bills skyward.
But shifting the cost to developer levies -- along with hiking surcharges for other public works, such as fire halls -- comes with its own bill of roughly $10,000 per new house, executives in the suburb-building industry said Wednesday.
Developers acknowledge they must share more of the burden for growth but are wary of a sudden and sharp uptick in their fees.
"We need to see that number phased in, so the impact on the homeowner isn't as abrupt," said Richard Priest, senior vice-president of Apex Developments.
The exact timing and level of the per-hectare fees will be determined in negotiations later this year, but by a 5-4 vote, a council committee backed the principles of a larger share of infrastructure's cost borne by those who benefit from it.
"The question really is: how much are you asking current taxpayers to subsidize an industry?" asked Mayor Dave Bronconnier.
Industry leaders told the committee they were hoping the city could use other revenue sources to fund the infrastructure, such as new types of taxes or municipal bonds.
"We agree that the current system isn't working," said Michael Flynn of the Urban Development Institute.
"But to just introduce another set of levies won't solve the problem."
Aldermen agree the city needs new revenue-generating powers, and will lobby Ottawa and the province for them. However, they've been turned down before by the Stelmach government, and city officials want to hike levies in the short term to avoid taking on more debt or raising utility rates or taxes.
Priest said he understood the complaints about who benefits from the new communities' infrastructure.
"If I'm living downtown, I don't think I should be paying for a guy in suburbia to have that new waste water treatment plant that doesn't do (me) any good," he said. "But there's still spinoff benefits from jobs and tax money coming into the economy."
The $10,000-per-house extra cost is based on a density that some developers are striving to surpass. At greater suburban densities, that charge would be reduced.
Council will vote July 19 on whether to support the plan.

Read more:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Cranbrook from Lakit Lookout

City Council Meeting Notes and Some Questions

July 19th Council Meeting Snippets

- A short and very efficient meeting
- Congratulations to Al Skucas and John Mandryk on their appointments to the Rails to Trails Committe
- A 3% –5% plus HST increase in User Fees for Cranbrook’s Recreational Facilities achieved third reading

- Administration Update included Quarterly and Year to Date Construction Information for 2010 compared to 2009

Year to Date Comparisons - All Construction
(January 1 - June 30)

Category                   Year to Date 2010 Value             Year to Date 2009 Value

Residential                 $16,550,310                                   $7,699,199

Commercial               $650,000                                        $11,556,013

Industrial                   $990,000                                         $1,497,000

Institutional                $2,301,000                                      $377,500

Government               $0                                                    $0

Signs                          $41,206                                          $92,956

* This amount includes the Walmart expansion that did not take place. The project was scaled down to interior renovations only.

The full Admin. update can be found under Council Packages at the City website.
Afterthoughts and Some Questions:

Will it be possible for the rate of residential construction to be sustained with the relatively large inventory of homes in the area for sale (as reported at the Council Meeting of June 28th) and an increasing vacancy rate? How will this situation affect housing prices?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook in Action

Members of Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook enjoyed participating in several beautification projects this spring and summer including Joseph Creek Clean-up, Tamarack Mall Planting and Eco System Restoration in the Community Forest.

Around Town and Looking Good

Native plants, local produce and local musical talent make summer Saturdays fun.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Whats Happening...

Why not come by City Hall Monday night, July 19th at 6pm to attend the City Council Meeting. Find out how your council works and watch our elected officials in action.
On the agenda for this meeting:
Rails to Trails Committee Appointments
Fees and Charges Amendment Bylaw Leisure Services Dept.
Memorial Arena Improvements Temporary Borrowing Bylaw
Wastewater Capacity ImprovementsTemporary Borrowing Bylaw
Administration Updates include....Idlewild Park Memory Lane, Memorial Arena Renovation,Kinsmen Quad Ball Park

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Growth Management Study Mystery

Where is the Growth Management Study?

Cranbrook’s Growth Management Study was originally budgeted for in 2007.

From what we have been told repeatedly since December of 2009 (post East Hill Referendum), the Growth Management Study (for which the City has or will pay $450,000.00), has been returned to the Consultants because the City staff were not satisfied with it. At that time we were led to believe the study would be released by the summer of 2010. When asked at the Brown Bag Lunch of April 28th if there would be an extra cost to this, Mayor Scott Manjak indicated he hoped the consultant company would not have the audacity to charge more. No release time for the study was available yet.

When asked again at the Brown bag Lunch of June 1st about a release date for the study, none was available. Mayor Manjak assured the public they would be shown the final copy of the study when it is available.

As of June 29th Mayor’s Brown Bag Lunch we have been advised this long awaited study should be available to the public by July or August.

Mayor Vents, CLC Responds

As printed in the Daily Townsman on July 2,2010 by Bonnie Bryan

The mayor of Cranbrook expressed concern at the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society's (CLC) activities in the community at Mondays regular Council meeting and said he and Councillors will be speaking up when it comes to this group.
"I want you to know as mayor I will no long be silent on the actions and misinformation of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook," Mayor Scott Manjak said at the end of the meeting. "They have continued to create division in Cranbrook by suggesting we are not acting in the public interest.
"I will not be silent any longer and I will respond when required to protect the employees, the businesses and resident and their interest when they are under unfair or unreasonable attack from the Citizens," he said. "As mayor I should and must defend the attacks on City staff when they are unfair and I'm obligated and frankly, allowed, to defend my council when we are attacked as well."
Manjak cited letters to the editor, submissions to Council, and the actions of the CLC leadership at public meetings as examples of the group creating division among the citizens of Cranbrook.
"The leadership of the CLC creates mistrust and conflict for specific reason, which is to advance their specific agenda, which at the end of the day is political.," he said. "They want what every special interest group wants, which is to control what happens in the city."
Included in that night's Council package was an update on tendering costs to the City the construction of water and sanitary sewer mains through Havaday lands so the Shadow Mountain development can connect to City services. A letter from the CLC regarding the project was printed in the June 24th Daily Townsman and was included in the written submissions regarding the needed amendment to the Five Year Financial Plan to allow the project, and in it the group questioned if the City should financially support the development.
"In my opinion this issue has been completely blown out of proportion by CLC. They have attacked our City staff for providing poor planning to the community on development and they have attacked this Council as being incompetent in the approval of development and have insinuated that we are using property taxes to support developers, none of which is true," Manjak said. "Tonight Council passed an amendment to our Five Year Financial Plan that allows us as a community to use money form the Development Cost Charge fund and our utility reserves to build 7oo metres of water and sewer lines. We made the right decision tonight. With it, investment, jobs and growth will continue and that is exactly what Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook don't want."What we don't know is what they stand for. They have never declared what we all know, who have paid attention to these things, is that they are anti-investment, anti-growth organization that is similar to the Wildsight movement in the East Kootenay."
Sharon Cross, president of the CLC said she was disappointed in what she heard Monday night and that the CLC was put in such a light.
"What I would suggest is if people have concerns with some of the allegations being made, that copies of our correspondence are available at our website ( I think they speak for themselves," she said. "I think its really important people know we're a very diverse group of citizens with a strong interest in our community. We always have encouraged debate with a wide base of community citizens in order to open up discussions on the issues that affect us all.
She said the group is not anti-growth.
"we're interest in economic diversity, social planning and environmental sustainability, which are all involved with growth. We've never been anti-growth, we just have a different perspective of what that might look like." Cross said. "CLC asks questions of our elected official on matters that we feel are relevant to our community and if Council take exceptions to our asking questions, that's there prerogative. It is also our right as citizens and taxpayers to ask those questions and sometimes challenge the status quo.. We have different ideas, that's all."
Manjak said what the CLC is doing has gone beyond constructive criticism.
"In any healthy democracy constructive criticism is needed and desired. This is not what we have. It's time that we as a community stand up for what we believe and stop this ridiculous political dance and defer it to its rightful place which is the November 2011 election." he said. "Until then I and others, members of this Council. will no longer remain silent when we see the misinformation and propaganda from the leadership of the citizens in the local newspapers and on the Internet."

Friday, July 9, 2010

Whats Happening...

This weekend, if your a gardener, why not take part in the Cranbrook Garden Club Annual Open Garden Day Tour. Sunday July 11 between 10am - 4pm you can tour 6 stunning gardens in Cranbrook. Tickets are $10.00 and are availabe at Top Crop or at the Prestige Inn the day of the event. Go and be inspired!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Cranbrook Community Forest; Another Reason to Love Cranbrook

On Saturday, June 19 the Cranbrook Community Forest Society in conjunction with the Ministry of Forests and the Rocky Mountain Trench Society took part in a eco-restoration and fire supression work bee. With the assistance of 30 volunteers we were able to clear several hectares of the forest and hope to make this an annual event in which our entire community can take part. The weather was perfect and a BBQ was held for the hungry workers. Thanks to all those who participated.

Visions of a better Vancouver could help build a better Cranbrook

This Op-Ed article on the blog is an interesting look at how Vancouver is trying to integrate various socio-economic classes,businesses, and cultural facilties to build a vibrant city.

Vancouver has a world-wide reputation for planning expertise. Many former City of Vancouver planning staff went on to work on significant projects in China, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

What put Vancouver on the world planning map is the concept of “Vancouverism”, which is basically a means of creating mixed-use developments that are environmentally, socially and culturally sustainable. It started many years ago under the planning director of the day, Ray Spaxman, and was further developed by Larry Beasley.

A component that cannot be overlooked is the inclusivity required to have a city that truly works. Mike Davis, a renowned planner and academic at the University of California, has studied very different approaches that are based on the separation of people along the lines of wealth, occupation and race.

This is typical of many American cities where low-income people are ghettoized and those with money are enclosed in gated communities that exist to keep out lower income people and people of colour. Mike Davis calls this approach “spatial apartheid”, which in my opinion, is clearly not the way to develop a livable city. This approach leads to isolation, hostility and violence.

The emerging trend in Vancouver is to strive for the polar opposite of spatial apartheid. The best example of this is Woodward’s. The redevelopment of Woodward’s set out to accomplish many things on a small but yet very strategic piece of land. The community was involved in all aspects of the development process – and that process included 4,000 people that came to co-design sessions to give their vision of how Woodward’s should work. There was a community advisory committee, co-chaired by a long term Downtown Eastside resident, Lee Donahue, along with the Chair of Gastown Business Improvement Association, Jon Stovall. This collaborative approach led to a project which functions in so many ways to improve the community and the social and cultural aspects of Vancouver.

Approximately 50 BladeRunners, who are primarily aboriginal street involved youth, worked on the construction of Woodward’s. Retail on the site includes a highly sought after Woodward’s food floor run by Nester’s, a London Drugs, a Subway and J.J. Bean Coffee, whose head office and roasting facility is located in the Downtown Eastside.

Building Opportunities with Business (BOB) and Jim Green and Associates worked with these retailers and with Simon Fraser University, whose School for the Performing Arts is also part of the redevelopment, to recruit local residents and train them for positions.

The recycling in the Woodward’s complex has been contracted to Recycling Alternatives, a neighbourhood business that hires locally, while the refundable containers are managed by United We Can, a Downtown Eastside non-profit. Security for the complex is provided by the Portland Hotel Society, a well known non-profit operating in the Downtown Eastside. There are 200 units of social housing and a childcare facility, as well as W2, a non-profit media arts collective, which will soon be operating a social enterprise coffee shop on the site.

Woodward’s also features 500 units of market condominiums, some of which were sold at reduced prices to Downtown Eastside residents. Many of those buyers work for organizations such as the Portland Hotel Society and other non-profit organizations. Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts is committed to providing access to their facilities and events to local residents and organizations.

According to Dr. Pier Luigi Sacco, the Downtown Eastside is already the centre of culture in the city and I believe very strongly that there will be a synergy between W2, SFU with its five theatres, and the community. I believe this will bring great benefits to the whole city.

I have said on many occasions that Woodward’s is the model for the future, and I think that we are beginning to see that happen in places like the Olympic Village that have many of the components that Woodward’s first embraced.

In my current work with the Holborn Group on the redevelopment of Little Mountain, I can see many similarities with Woodward’s, especially the challenge of inclusivity. Little Mountain has a strong community advisory group that meets regularly and is well-educated on planning concepts and procedures. This group, which is open to anyone who would like to join, is an invaluable part of the redevelopment team. Holborn has also agreed to offer employment opportunities to the Musqueam people.

Little Mountain, which was the first social housing in Vancouver, was demolished for the redevelopment – but part of the arrangement between the provincial government, the city, and the Holborn Group is that the 224 social housing units that were on the site will be replaced and former tenants will have the opportunity to come back and live there. We are also looking at the possibility of including the Little Mountain Neighbourhood House in the plan, along with retail and possibly childcare. The plan is that it be architecturally significant and achieve LEED Gold. The possibility of including more social housing and affordable rental will be considered as well.

An interesting sideline to this redevelopment is that from the land costs and profits generated, the provincial government will invest half the money in social housing in Vancouver and the other half throughout the province. The province and the city, along with Streetohome, have just announced $225 million for 1,006 social housing units in Vancouver, and part of that funding is expected to come from the redevelopment of Little Mountain. This is a unique situation in which the redevelopment of a social housing project is being used to generate funds to finance other off-site social housing. The precedent for this is Woodward’s, which generated 200 units of social housing off-site, known as the Lori Krill Housing Co-op.

According to Housing Minister Rich Coleman: “the capital that Little Mountain will bring will actually create another thousand units of social housing…this is the right type of housing, which is supportive housing.… It’s really smart leveraging of an asset to actually do more in the areas that you need it the most."

It is imperative that we use every tool at our disposal to produce the housing that is so badly needed in our city and province.

Jim Green is the principal of Jim Green and Associates and served on Vancouver City Council from 2002 to 2005.

Lessons of Whitefish; A warning for Cranbrook

This article was reprinted from the FlatHead Beacon. ITs an interesting example of what happens when a city is counting on development to be the economic driver of growth.

It was early 2009 when, following the tragic death of its finance director and departure of its city manager, Whitefish began to get its finances in order. Amid a recession that had hammered budgets elsewhere, the municipality remained quite optimistic. It reported having robust cash reserves and officials there were confident building permits would pick up again.

Meanwhile, in Kalispell, the situation was dire. The finance director estimated that the city’s cash reserve could fall to a dismal $171,700. Department budgets had already been gutted and more cuts were considered. An already bleak outlook had only worsened.

Since then, however, the two cities’ finances have taken opposite routes.

By early 2010, Whitefish began bleeding money. Its city manager, Chuck Stearns, announced four layoffs, three from the building department, and said it appeared the city would finish the fiscal year in the red. He asked employees to take furloughs, ordered a hiring freeze and barred out-of-state travel.

It was hard to fathom. The fastest-growing city in the state, one that had a reportedly stable budget just a year prior, was going broke. While $400,000 was lost to a Montana Supreme Court ruling against the city and property tax money was coming in more slowly due to the number of protests in an appraisal year, Whitefish’s biggest mistake was betting on growth. It lost badly.

Revenue from planning and building permits plummeted and Stearns acknowledged that revenue estimates for each were “very aggressive and optimistic.” The municipality had banked on building to finance government and, like Kalispell before it, had lost its cash cow. The difference is Whitefish waited even longer to face this new reality, and is paying dearly because of it.

Departments there are now bracing for a second round of layoffs, this one even deeper than the first. Police and fire departments, with jobs on the line, are warning of the public safety risks that would accompany lost personnel. The proposal hopes to increase budget reserves to $287,759, but the government parings would have been less shocking had the city acted earlier.

Since early 2009, the city of Kalispell has been functioning as a bare bones operation. Interim City Manager Myrt Webb, and his successor Jane Howington, have been refreshingly blunt with city officials about its finances and the city council has slashed expenses accordingly.

As 2010 approached, Kalispell’s reserves remained dangerously low, but appeared to be stabilizing. And at its most recent preliminary budget meeting, the city projected that its cash reserves will double, from $244,122 to $556,457.

That number is still far from ideal for a city its size and has come at a steep cost. Howington acknowledged as much. “Our capital plan is pretty abysmal,” she said. “But we’re able to provide good basic services without having our residents suffer.”

Anymore, that’s about all people can expect unless they want to pay more for services. In many cash-strapped cities, tax hikes have accompanied budget cuts, which is an especially raw deal.

Many cities across the country face similar fates as those in the Flathead Valley: Growth that once helped subsidize government expenses has all but disappeared. Few could foresee the economy getting this bad and the housing and construction market experiencing such a drawn-out lull. But moving forward, city officials should stop counting on building dollars they previously relied on.

All budget projections are arbitrary, but erring on the side of stagnant to little growth – even in burgeoning communities – just may prevent future layoffs and tax hikes.

Kellyn Brown
Flathead Beacon