Just south of the Calgary city limits on Highway 2, Okotoks is a bustling community full of amenities and surrounded by breathtaking southern Alberta scenery.
As of the May 2012 Municipal Census, Okotoks’ population was 24,962, an increase of 4.1 per cent compared to 2011. In August, the community saw 67 sales for an average price of $387,755. As of the second quarter of this year, year-to-date sales totaled 326 units, a 4.5 per cent increase compared to the same time in 2012.
“As single family home supply priced under $500,000 tightened within Calgary city limits, many buyers turned to the surrounding communities,” said CREB® senior economist Ann Marie Lurie. “Tighter market conditions have supported price growth in Okotoks but at a pace that is slower than levels seen within city limits.”
The end of the second quarter saw single-family prices total $394,600, a year-over-year increase of 4.4 per cent and just below the July 2007 unadjusted high of $395,200.
The town has managed to maintain its sense of history as seen in Olde Towne Okotoks while developing into a sustainably conscious modern space. In maintaining that historical veneer, the town also dances to its own tune with several cultural offerings including the Okotoks Art Gallery, the Rotary Performing Arts Centre and the Okotoks Museum and Archives.
The Museum and Archives recently won a Leadership Award from the Alberta Museums Association for its work in education.
“It is an honour to receive this recognition for our museum,” said Jan Robinson, education specialist.
The award is grounded in a belief that excellence, innovation and creativity for the foundation of outstanding museums.
“We love sharing the history of Okotoks through our programs and exhibits,” said Kathy Coutts, museum specialist. “Watching visitors, particularly students, make a connection to history and be excited about it is very rewarding.”
For the activity minded, the Sheep River runs right through the middle of town providing plenty of recreation activities. Located in the heart of the town is Sheep River Park. The park includes several community pathways, a playground and picnic opportunities. Whether walking along the banks, boating or fishing, the river has a little something for everyone.
The community is very focused on conservation and sustainability and in the summer months held a conservation awareness campaign in which conservation educators are in the midst of wrapping up visits to approximately 1,000 homes educating residents on everything from water to waste.
Conservation programs practiced by the town include the Cart It Automated Garbage program, Curb It Recycling program, Cut n’ Call Yard Waste program and the Water Conservation Rebate program.
Located just west of Okotoks, The Big Rock was deposited in its current grassland home by a passing glacier that melted some 10,000 years ago. The signature crack is explained by the legend of Blackfoot trickster Napi resting on the rock one day and giving it his blanket in return. With a sudden change in the weather Napi tried to take his blanket back but the rock refused. Napi took the robe anyways and the rock chased him. Animals who tried to aid Napi were crushed by the rock until some bats flew at it cracking it in half. The tale is a lesson of caution against taking back what you have given away.
Okotoks Air Ranch
Bordering Okotoks to the east, Air Ranch is Canada’s first private air park community. Boasting a fully certified airport with 3,100 foot runway set on 13 hectares of green space, the 97 hectare development was an idea of a local developer with a passion for flying. The area has plans for a soccer pitch and baseball diamond and is also home to Skywings Aviation flight school and the Okotoks Flying Club.
Olde Towne Okotoks
Comprised of shops and eateries along Elma, Elizabeth, McRae and North Railway Street, Olde Towne Okotoks oozes with vintage flair. Historical buildings house various restaurants and shops all within easy walking distance of the downtown core. Tourist information is housed at the old Canadian Pacific Railway Station — now dubbed The Okotoks Art Gallery at the Station. Just steps away from the Station is the Okotoks Museum and Archives located in the Welch heritage house.
Moving from Calgary to Okotoks in 2007, the Western Major Baseball League’s Okotoks Dawgs have enjoyed continued success. The Dawgs are one of the highest draws for baseball in Alberta in the stadium funded by brothers Don and the late Doc Seaman. The stadium is taking a turn at stardom as it was recently used as a set during shooting for the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar.