New communities and developments in bustling town offer more choices for would-be residents
The explosive growth that Cochrane continues to enjoy is evident when Mayor Ivan Brooker reels off the names of more than a dozen new communities either under development or in the planning stages in the scenic town west of Calgary.
“We’ve had huge growth – we were the second-fastest growing community in all of Canada from 2011 to 2016,” said Brooker.
“People love the location. We’re a beautiful community, you’re on your way to the mountains, and we’re not a small town necessarily, in the aspects of not having services. We have everything you would expect in a big city. The amenities are there for anything you might want to entertain as a family.”
It’s this sense of close-knit community and laid-back, small-town flavour that has consistently attracted new residents, to the tune of 26,300 additions – a 47 per cent increase – in the five-year period between 2011 and 2016.
Brooker says that even 2016 — a year of recession throughout the province — saw 3.5 per cent population growth in the town.
A municipality can apply to be designated a city once it has 10,000 residents, but Cochrane residents have been resistant to that idea.
The community nestled in the Bow Valley, flanked by the Foothills, and painted throughout with an historic, old-West flavour just wouldn’t feel right being called a city, says Debbie Leah, a 15-year resident of the town.
“When I moved here there were 8,000 people. There are families that rolled into town 100 years ago, and those families are still in Cochrane. If we go to a city, there might be the risk of losing that connection with our past,” she said, adding one of her favourite things about Cochrane is the town’s Western heritage design guidelines that ensure any new developments conform to fit its character. Even the Walmart in town has a Western-inspired storefront.
“We could have (become a city) a decade ago, but there is no benefit to doing that,” said Brooker.
When I moved here there were 8,000 people. There are families that rolled into town 100 years ago, and those families are still in Cochrane. If we go to a city, there might be the risk of losing that connection with our past.
“Years ago, there used to be different taxation and grants to make that attractive, but now everything is based on population, so it means nothing. We like to retain the notion of being a small town.”
That notion is a selling feature for people who want a slower pace of life away from the city.
Many new communities established on the south side of Cochrane are in a variety of development phases. One of them is Greystone, located downtown on former Burnco land and coming to market in 2018.
Other new or upcoming communities include Fireside, Riversong, Sunset Ridge, The Willows, Heartland, Riviera, Heritage Hills, The Rivers, Southbow, Rivercrest, Precedence and the Summit of River Heights.
Leah remembers how the Cochrane housing market hit a fever pitch around 2007.
“At that point it was crazy. Everybody wanted to move to Cochrane, and there wasn’t enough product to sell,” she said. “Now we have lots of new developments.”
Everything from apartment-style condominiums and townhomes to estate homes on river lots are available, and two new seniors’ complexes are being built as well, Leah says.
“This is a treat, because Cochrane was rated one of the top 10 communities to retire to in Canada,” she said.
According to CREB®, for detached and attached property types, year-to-date benchmark home prices are $422,040 and $325,080. These properties are comparable to what you can find in northwest Calgary communities such as Arbour Lake and Tuscany.
“A lot of people think if they are going to live out this way, they’ll just go to Cochrane instead.”