The way we design new neighbourhoods can directly influence the Sustainable Okotoks goals we hope to achieve. Literature on sustainable communities suggests that community development should achieve two results:
1. Reduced reliance on cars and the expensive infrastructure required to service cars.
2. Creation of character and sense of place through design, to encourage pedestrian mobility.
One way to achieve both ends is to encourage mixed land use developments that place work, recreation opportunity, and basic needs shopping closer to home. Having amenities closer to home reduces reliance on vehicles, a directive in reducing greenhouse gases to adapt climate change. The mixing of land uses provides for this ability to create "live work" environments. Provision of a broad spectrum of housing provides choices for a full spectrum of demographic. The way we design open space, linkages and their relationship to major facilities in a neighbourhood directly impacts whether or not people utilize other modes of transportation other than vehicles. Denser forms of residential development must be wisely located within the community to support the viability of transportation options in the future.
Town Council advocates the development of sustainable neighbourhoods within the sustainable community as a whole. This comprehensive goal involves innovative environmental initiatives and a new type of planning created from strong sustainable urban design principals:
At buildout population to be split evenly with 50% north of the river and 50% south.
Complementary but distinct land uses identified for:
Downtown (high end retail, tourism, culture, entertainment, professional services) .
Highway commercial (lower end retail uses, daily need vehicle oriented services, & large land users that can't be accommodated downtown).
Neighbourhood commercial areas (daily need services).
Development of mixed land uses that place home, work, recreation and daily needs.
Shopping in close proximity to one another to promote active transportation.
Transit hubs, facilities, and highest residential densities to be central in community.
Shift of assessment base by build out to create 22% commercial/industrial, 78% residential assessment base
Development of light, high tech, knowledge based industrial base encouraged while recognizing need for traditional industrial land uses.
Preservation and restoration of heritage sites encouraged.
architectural controls and standards applied by Developers and the Town to create a unique identify for Okotoks
Residential Land Use
Range of housing choice, affordability, and density provided. Target 30% 'nontraditional' housing by build out.
Consideration of new residential land use designations to support this target (eg. allowance for 'granny' suites)
Maximum distance between any given home and the nearest commercial shopping cell or industrial or commercial employment cell will be a 20 minute walk and between any given home and neighbourhood recreation opportunity will be a 15 minute walk.
Overall housing density not to exceed 11.5 units per gross hectare (roughly existing density in Okotoks)
Avoidance of poor streetscape created by single family front car garages.
Laned and laneless subdivisions possible
Residential development to have appropriate interface with adjacent, nonresidential land uses.
High aesthetic standards for new developments to be maintained
All utilities to be underground (new development).
Commercial Land Use
Commercial development to be designed for both pedestrians and vehicles.
Future commercial development/redevelopment projects encouraged to provide pedestrian features such as plazas, courtyards, lighting, wider sidewalks.
Downtown to receive pedestrian improvements street lighting, signage, tree planting, street furniture, sidewalk improvement.
Four downtown expansion zones identified Elma Street (east of Highway 2A), Elma Street (limited to existing parcels) west of Highway 2A, South Railway Street, and McRae Streets and North Railway Street.
Mixed use and/or developments that show residential development above the main floor may be considered
Highway commercial development encouraged to be developed as 'cells' rather than 'strips' to improve aesthetic.
Upgrading of communication infrastructure to permit high tech industry (teleworking).
Flexible land use classification in all commercial and industrial areas
Additional facilities that have been identified as being required before build out:
South side recreation centre
South side fire hall
Community public transit hub and neighbourhood transit hubs
The Town has encouraged the use of 'swing sites' to maintain land use flexibility for specified sites
Architecture/sign guidelines to be created.
Revitalization incentives to be established through regulation and design (road changes to permit more intensive use of existing property, move from three to four storey maximum, relaxation of land use restrictions, reduction of parking standards).
Public art to be investigated as means of improving aesthetic.
Long term target to place power lines below ground.
Gateway feature landscaping installed at Highway 2A and Elizabeth Street.
Pedestrian street lighting installed.
Strip mall development prohibited unless strip can be shown to have distinct architectural modules that break down mass into smaller, more pedestrian friendly components.
Heritage resources downtown to be designated provincial heritage sites.
Investigation of 'common' parking, including Daggatt Street
Parking encouraged to be in rear rather than front yard (or shared public parking lots at rear)
Unique street signs
Zero front yard setbacks
New development pays 100% of cost of providing additional facilities (water, sewer, roads).
Private sector pays 50% of cost of retrofitting and maintaining landscaping in developed areas.
Private sector pays 100% of cost of Parkway and other off street pedestrian systems in new neighbourhoods.
Private sector funds 25% of cost of purchasing river valley and escarpment lands, and any additional lands purchased for park or open space systems.
Alberta Transportation and Utilities pays 100% of cost of upgrading Highway 2A to four lanes.
Municipal infrastructure to be sized for a buildout population of 25,000 to 30,000.
Annexed lands meet land use classification targets to ensure that an adequate commercial/industrial assessment base is created.
Taxation demand (using 1998 benchmark figures) on a 'typical' home assessed at $150,000 does not increase to buildout population .
Town of Okotoks Municipal Development Plan 'The Legacy Plan' Sept. 1998
Case Study - Sustainable Urban Planning
In 1999, the provincially owned highway 2A was planning to twin the four existing lanes to a 6 lane proposal. The community adamantly opposed this proposal for a more aesthetic approach. With significant public consultation a four lane road was ultimately constructed, including a significantly eco-scaped median and boulevard planting along a 2km stretch of the road. This initiative included the planting of 155 trees and 1400 drought tolerant shrubs.