As former mayor of Okotoks and a current REALTOR® there, Sandi Kennedy has a unique view of what the town was, is and will be.
From 1988 to 1994, Kennedy headed up a town council that had to deal with the diverse wants and needs of individuals and businesses during a period of tremendous growth. The town had a population of about 5,500 when she took over the mayor’s chair, and surged during her term in office – today, the number sits at nearly 30,000.
Born and raised in the southern Alberta foothills, Kennedy still lives in Okotoks, and took the time to talk about what the town’s future might look like as it continues to grow.
CREB®Now: What is the current population of Okotoks and what is the forecast for the next few years?
Kennedy: During the time I was mayor, the population doubled to about 10,000 and the current population is at approximately 30,000. The forecast is that it will continue to grow, with new housing developments paving the way.
CREB®Now: Has Okotoks changed much since you were mayor?
Kennedy: There have been plenty of changes since I was in office – all for the good. More choices for shopping and dining, more sports facilities for children, and an arts and culture scene has developed for all ages.
Okotoks also has many new businesses, and business incubator space to assist startups. It’s all part of the town’s aim to support business.
“There have been plenty of changes since I was in office – all for the good. More choices for shopping and dining, more sports facilities for children, and an arts and culture scene has developed for all ages.”
CREB®Now: What is the state of the real estate market in Okotoks and where do you see it headed in the short and longer term?
Kennedy: The market right now is similar to Calgary, with sales a little slower and listings have been increasing. And with interest rates going up, a bit of sales in both Calgary and the rural areas were affected. As winter approaches, the sales volume should be normal – if the interest rates hold and the oil price stays about $50. We find Okotoks reacts to market changes about 60 days after changes impact Calgary.
CREB®Now: Are Calgarians still active in Okotoks’ housing sector?
Kennedy: They continue to make up a good percentage of buyers in Okotoks, and for good reason. We have schools in all districts, and if a child does require a bus, it’s just a short ride within the town.
Okotoks also has terrific sports and arts programs for children, all within walking distance or just a short drive away. The town supplies a wonderful service for working parents with after-school programs and summer programs at our recreation centre.
We are also seeing an increase in the number of seniors, as there are a good number of doctors and health facilities, as well as more recreational programs for them.
CREB®Now: Does Okotoks like being called a Calgary “bedroom community?”
Kennedy: Being called a bedroom community never seemed to bother anyone. Thirty years ago, a high percentage were driving to work in Calgary, but that is gradually changing as Okotoks continues to develop businesses.