The Town of Okotoks is keeping focused on expanding environmental initiatives, while attracting more unique eateries and boutique style retailers with its urban design master plan. Photo by Jesse Yardley / For CREB®Now

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 (

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.

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