The bounty of Bowness

A town that became a community, Bowness still has an independent vibe all its own

The northwest community of Bowness offers plenty of diversity, thanks to the area’s long and varied history. Just take a stroll along the main street and you will feel as though you have stepped back in time.

“Bownesians have this incredible sense of pride. They are proud that they are a small town in the big city,” said Jacqui Esler, executive director of the Mainstreet Bowness Business Improvement Area and former main street business owner.

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Braeside journeyman

Craig Iseke used his cabinetmaking skills to renovate his ’70s bungalow and is loving the results

High school teacher and journeyman cabinetmaker Craig Iseke has two loves: hanging out in the mountains (doing outdoorsy things like biking, hiking, snowshoeing, skiing and fishing ), and designing and crafting wood furniture. So when he decided to sell his Marda Loop home and look for something a little more off the beaten path, but closer to the school that he was teaching at, he had a long list of must-haves. First on that list was space to store all his sporting gear. After searching MLS® System Listings for close to five months, he found an 1,100 square foot bungalow on a 50-foot lot in the southwest community of Braeside. The home, built in 1972, was in need of a renovation, an endeavor right up Iseke’s alley.

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Room to grow

Town planners are building on Okotoks’ character, charm and affordability

There’s an unmistakable charm inherent in small town living and the vibrant community of Okotoks is no exception. It’s loaded with old-fashioned community spirit, coupled with ample, wide open spaces, stellar views of the Rockies, and plenty of cutting-edge ideas when it comes to urban planning and sustainability.

Add to that an expanding list of big city amenities and it’s no wonder the town is beeping on the radar.

“It’s the sustainability practices, for the most part, that are attracting people to Okotoks and our polls are showing that people want more of them,” said Dawn Smith, environment and sustainability coordinator for the town of Okotoks.

“And along with that comes the recreational opportunities. Okotoks is a great place to live, work and play.”

Certainly, sustainability has been at the core of development for many years, spearheaded by the community’s Legacy Plan in 1998. Since then, the town has adopted and implemented innovative water conservation techniques and top-of-the-charts environmental urban planning and building initiatives, beginning with the head-turning and award-winning community of Drake Landing in the mid-2000s.

United Communities, the developer behind Drake Landing, is once again adding to the landscape of Okotoks with the new community of D’Arcy (www.darcyokotoks.com).

D’Arcy will be a 113-hectare master-planned community that borders the D’Arcy Ranch Golf Club to the west, Northridge Drive to the east, Sandstone Gate to the south, and Northgate Circle to the north.

It’s the sustainability practices, for the most part, that are attracting people to Okotoks and our polls are showing that people want more of them. And along with that comes the recreational opportunities. Okotoks is a great place to live, work and play.

The vision embraces considerable housing diversity – home offerings will run the gamut from apartment-style condominiums, to duplex designs, townhomes and single-family homes. A high street with an urbanized, mixed-use retail environment comprised of grocery stores, coffee shops, restaurants and local retail will create a walkable community hub. “And throughout the community we are pioneering safe routes – uniquely designed pathways for children to walk to school,” said Steve LePan, marketing director at United Communities.

Phase one, which will offer semi-detached and rear detached laned homes, will begin in the spring, with show homes expected in early 2018.

LePan says the charm and character of Okotoks, combined with affordable housing is attracting people to the town. “There is a pent up demand for these housing types in Okotoks and we think that it will really draw Calgarians,”said LePan.

United is also planning a sister community to D’Arcy which is currently in the approval process. It will share D’Arcy’s amenities and offer many of the same attributes and housing types.

Future development is on the horizon for Okotoks in many aspects, as it solidifies and tweaks its growth plans.

Recently, the Town has reworked its 1998 Legacy Plan, a plan that mandated limited growth based on limited water resources, to embrace a Managed Growth Plan, one that involves a 60-year outlook and entails annexation of surrounding lands with guided sustainable direction.

Smith says that the new community sustainability plan initiated in 2016 sets five major objectives: a downtown revitalization plan, a transit plan, a new municipal development plan, greater support of community connections, and expansion of water and waste water facilities.

Alexandra Ross, economic development specialist for the Town of Okotoks says the vision will champion innovation and that the urban design master plan for downtown will include a Town Plaza.

“The aim is to attract more unique eateries and boutique style retailers,” said Ross.

In addition, the mandate is to foster awareness and interest in entrepreneurship, drawing business relocation and expansion into Okotoks.

When it comes to housing, the Town’s mandate is to expand environmental initiatives. “We want to be innovative leaders and we are willing to take risks to do it,” said Smith.

Homeowners can expect a streamlined permit process for solar power, a process that will work in conjunction with the recently announced provincial rebate. In addition, the Town offers programming that complements the HEAT initiative (mapping technology of energy efficiency available to all homeowners in Okotoks). The Town lends out a DIY kit that includes an energy gun and heat meter. It also offers a 50 per cent rebate on a home energy audit that will provide an Energuide rating. “This is really important because it gives your home a label, which can be fantastic for resale value,” said Smith.

For more information on Okotoks, please visit www.okotoks.ca.

 

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In the Loop

Homebuyer finds the perfect mix of location and amenities in Calgary’s Marda Loop neighbourhood.

Buying a home is a very personal endeavor as Carolyn Kemp can attest. For the past few years, she was considering making the move from Edmonton to Calgary to be closer to family and friends. She’d grown up in Calgary, so she was familiar with the city and what it offered. After searching for almost year, she knew within a minute of walking through the door of a bright and sunny three-level townhome in Marda Loop it was the place she wanted to call home.

CREB®Now: What were some of the qualities that you were looking for in a home?

Kemp: Location was really important. I knew that I didn’t want to be in the suburbs. I wanted a home that was centrally located, but not right downtown. I wanted a place where I could walk to the shops and where I could run along the trails.

Location was really important. I knew that I didn’t want to be in the suburbs. I wanted a home that was centrally located, but not right downtown. I wanted a place where I could walk to the shops and where I could run along the trails.

I knew of River Park because when I would come to visit my mom in Bayview, I would run along the reservoir trail, which leads right to the back side of River Park.

I was also quite specific in what style of home I wanted. It had to be a townhome or condo, not a single-family home. I really didn’t want to be shoveling snow and I didn’t want a basement. It had to feel spacious with two bedrooms and a couple of bathrooms. It was also really important to have outdoor space, but not a patio right on the street, like so many of the homes in Marda Loop. And it had to be close to workout facilities.

CREB®Now: What steps did you take to assist you in finding the right home?

Kemp: I hired a REALTOR®, a family friend to help me. I looked for over a year. Probably all in, I toured close to 50 homes, but nothing felt right. And then I was having coffee with a girlfriend at the Starbucks on 14th Street and I mentioned to her about an open house in Marda Loop and she said, “Oh, can I come with you?” So we went and I walked through the door and thought: this looks pretty good. It had all of the must-haves. It’s close enough to the action, but it’s not on the main street. It’s really light and bright (and) there is an attached garage. I’m usually terrible at making decisions, but I just knew that I wanted this place. I had the feeling.

CREB®Now: Would you hire a realtor again? How was the process?

Kemp: Yes, I absolutely would hire a Realtor again. The buying procedure was really great. And I am in the process of selling my condo in Edmonton, too. The Realtor there is so good – he was recommended by my Realtor in Calgary. He checks my place every 48 hours. He will check if the water needs turning on or off; he turns down the heat if needs be and tells me if there is mail. It’s fantastic.

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Even Odds

Calgary couple finds real estate investment opportunities close to home after 50/50 win

Michael Podwalski and his wife Kate relocated to Calgary from Ottawa three years ago and purchased a starter home in upper Cranston, practically sight unseen.

The experience worked out exceptionally well. So last year, they commissioned the builder, Cedarglen Homes, to build their dream home in Cranston’s Riverstone.

When an opportunity arose to expand their financial portfolio and leap into real estate investment, the couple went with Cedarglen Living, the multi-family arm of Cedarglen Homes, purchasing a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condominium with an east-facing balcony at Seton Park Place in Seton’s new urban district.

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