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New tourism master plan outlines investment opportunities in growing Kootenays city

Cranbrook’s online information portal helps potential investors make data-informed decisions

Cranbrook, B.C., a year-round outdoor playground nestled in the heart of the Rockies, is helping potential investors make data-informed decisions about the advantages of bringing their businesses to town.

The biggest city East of Kelowna, Cranbrook, has seen record-breaking growth in the past several years.

Known as the “Basecamp of the Kootenays,” Cranbrook is home to the College of the Rockies, a regional hospital, the Canadian Rockies International Airport and the British Columbia Hockey League’s Cranbrook Bucks, but that doesn't even begin to cover all that it has to offer.

Outdoor activities draw visitors from around the globe

As a popular tourism destination, especially for visitors from Alberta, Cranbrook is now turning its attention on creating a Tourism Master Plan to boost current tourism assets in the community and to set future tourism-related goals.

“We’re a huge playground here,” Cranbrook Mayor Lee Pratt says.

“We have all the amenities. We have lakes, rivers, golf courses galore, ski hills in the winter. We’ve seen the popularity of bike trails growing and have so many trails from leisurely rides to more extreme mountain biking, which people from as far away as England come to do

The plan is a partnership between organizations such as the city, Cranbrook Tourism, Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce and the Ktunaxa Nation Council.

“Our aim with the Ktunaxa is not just their inclusion, but their leadership in developing our tourism strategy,” Cranbrook’s business development officer Darren Brewer says.

“They will be a major part of the fabric of our regional brand.”

Data portal helps investors make smarter decisions

Cranbrook’s investment data portal will play a prominent role in informing potential investors.

“This data portal is meant to give people the data they need in order to make informed decisions ,” Brewer says.

This information includes tourism data provided by TELUS Insights that offer a detailed view of several unique visitors and trips made to the City of Cranbrook and the region of East Kootenays and the length of their stay.

Total unique visitors to Cranbrook were up over 9% in 2021 from 2019.

“Our data portal is a dashboard for decision making,“  Brewer says.

Record number of housing starts

The latest census information available doesn’t tell the whole story about Cranbrook’s population growth, Pratt says.

“Our census numbers came out, but it didn’t capture the recent growth.”

This expansion includes a newly built 292-unit rental building, already at full occupancy, with roughly 50% of renters new to the area. The same development company is currently in the process of starting another similar development.

In the same season, approximately 90 single-family homes have been built.

“Usually, we build about 18 new homes a year, Brewer says. “This is ridiculous.”

Building permit numbers also paint a picture of a growing community.

“We compared the numbers of building permits from 2017 to 2021 to the previous five years, and building permit numbers,” Brewer explains.

“We have hundreds of market rental units in the queue. Developers will find a quick and streamlined process. We can get things done in months, not years.”

Industrial land available for development

“We have a large parcel of industrial and employment land that are opportunities for investment. A big part of what we’re trying to do is fill this land,” Brewer describes.

There are hundreds of acres of prime industrial land available for sale, including 150 acres next to the airport.

As the base camp of the Kootenays, Cranbrook is the largest urban center and regional focal point of the East Kootenays serving Creston, Fernie, Kimberley, Invermere and the Columbia Valley.

“When you’re in Cranbrook, you’re not just servicing Cranbrook. You service the Kootenays. That’s a great reason to base your business here,” Brewer says.

For up-to-the-minute information about the advantages of investing in Cranbrook, visit