Home Municipal Services Planning FAQ
1. How much is a certificate of compliance?
A compliance certificate is a legal guarantee that a house being purchased meets all the requirements of a municipality - it's sited properly, does not exceed lot coverage or building height requirements, etc. Compliance certificates are required by the mortgage company, not the Town. Compliance certificates are a service provided by the Town and fee information can be found by clicking here.
2. Can I build a garage on my property?
A garage (accessory building) can be built on most residential lots in Town. There are different setback requirements (distance the building must be from property line) for different districts. Please contact the Safety Codes Services 403-938-8914 firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the setback requirements for your district.
3. How high can my fence be?
Fences and perimeter hedges in residential districts cannot be higher than:
a) 1.0 m (3.29 ft) in the front yard, or
b) 2.0 m (6.56 ft) in the side or rear yard
4. What school will my child go to?
The Town of Okotoks has a number of public and catholic schools. Bus service is available. Please contact the school divisions directly:
Foothills School Division No. 38 Public Schools (403-938-6436)
Christ the Redeemer Catholic Separate Regional Division #3 (403-938-2659)
5. When is the next Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) meeting?
The Commission meets on the third Thursday of each month.
6. I am going to operate a small business from my home. Do I require a license?
A home occupation permit and business license is required to operate a "major" business from your home. New regulations that "hit the books" in 1998 omit small ("Minor") home occupations from requiring a development permit. A home occupation brochure is available at Town Hall, or Development Services, or visit the Business Licensing section on our website.
7. What is the zoning on my property?
All properties in Town have a land use designation. A quick call to the Development Services with the street address and legal description will provide you with an answer.
8. I just moved into my new house but I don’t have a Driveway Apron. When will it be installed?
Normally concrete driveway aprons (on collector streets with separated sidewalks) are poured before you move in, however sometimes due to the time of year or construction schedules it is not possible to have the apron completed before you move in. The Developer is responsible for installing the aprons. Please contact your Developer directly to find out their schedule.
9. My sidewalk was damaged during construction, when will it be fixed?
The Developer is responsible for repairing damaged sidewalks. Normally they repair all damages 2 years after the subdivision was first constructed. Please contact the Developer to find out about their repair schedule. Of course when the repairs are being made, you may loose partial or complete access to your driveway for 3-6 weeks. Please avoid driving on newly placed concrete for at least 2 weeks to allow it to gain enough strength to support a vehicle. Concrete requires 28 days to reach full strength.
10. The pavement on my new street is lower than the gutter and it does not drain properly. When will this be fixed?
The pavement in new subdivisions is intentionally left low to allow a period of time for settlements to occur and to make repairs to damaged concrete. After the maintenance period (normally 2 years) is over, the Developer will level out any settlements in the road and patch any potholes or repair areas. The Developer will then place the final lift of asphalt to complete the road construction. You can contact your developer to find out about their schedule. Vehicle access to your house will be restricted for a few days while the paving work is completed.
11. There was a big storm and the street is flooded and the water is starting to come into my yard! Are the drains plugged? What do I do?
All new subdivisions in the Town of Okotoks are designed with a Stormwater Management Plan. Because the underground pipe system cannot be practically designed to handle the severe storm events, temporary stormwater storage sites called “Trap Lows” are provided in the streets, lanes, and sometimes parks to store the excess water. The water then drains slowly into the pipe system at the designed rate to ensure the downstream system is not overloaded. Some Trap Lows are designed to flood a portion of the surrounding yards as well. Don’t worry though, as long as when building your house and developing your landscaping you followed the assigned grading plan for the lot, the water in the Trap Low will spill downstream before reaching your house. When the rain stops or slows down, the water will slowly drain away. If at that point the Trap Low still does not drain, likely the storm washed some debris into the catch basins causing them to plug and you should call the Town of Okotoks Operations to clear the blockage.
12. We have a Storm Pond in our new subdivision, can we use it for swimming and skating?
Storm Ponds (wet ponds) serve two main purposes in the Stormwater Management Plan. They serve to supply the additional water storage needed in a major storm event, and they also act as treatment for the stormwater to remove sediment and protect the Sheep River. Because of these functions, the Storm Ponds are not safe for recreational use. The water quality is not fit for swimming, and the pond is not safe for skating in the winter because the ice on the surface may become unstable due to the flowing water below and the fluctuating water levels. The water level may rise rapidly during or after a storm event so you and your children should avoid activity near the water’s edge. Runoff of road salts and de-icing fluids to storm ponds also decreases ice quality and thickness so please keep recreational activities in the designated areas only.
13. Why are there bags around the catch basins (drains) causing the street to flood?
In new areas and in construction zones, stormwater inlets (catch basins) on the streets are often protected with socks or bags to reduce the amount of sediment that enters the storm sewer system that drains directly to the Sheep River. This is a requirement from Alberta Environment to protect the water quality of our river systems. Sediment from construction sites can have a significant impact on the water quality of the river. Although this can be annoying for people living in the area or driving on the road, this small inconvenience is worthwhile if it helps to improve water quality. It is unlawful to remove these devices.
14. Why are the Traffic Signals not Synchronized?
Traditional synchronization is not a possibility in the case of Northridge Dr/ Southridge Dr (Hwy2A) because of the uneven intersection spacing and 2-way traffic. Traditional synchronization is most commonly used in major downtown centres with one way streets as the most efficient way to move traffic. All of the Traffic Signals in Okotoks operate independently at varying cycle lengths depending on the traffic flows at each intersection. In the future when traffic volumes warrant, some “coordination” during specific times of the day to favour traffic flow in one direction or the other (North or South but not both) may be implemented. Coordination is not the same as conventional synchronization and may not always be obvious to the casual observer, however it does improve the efficiency of the entire traffic signal system. The Town will monitor traffic and take traffic counts as necessary to determine when upgrades or programming revisions should be completed.
16. Why did the Traffic Signals cycle for no reason?
Occasionally it would appear that the Traffic Signals cycle to a phase that is not required (such as a protected left turn or a side street green). This phenomenon can be frustrating for motorists that are unnecessarily delayed and can be caused by many reasons. Most commonly the unnecessary phase is initiated by a vehicle or pedestrian that activated a detector or push button but are no longer in the area when the signals cycle to answer the call. This can sometimes happen with right turning vehicles, vehicles that enter the turn lane then change their mind and continue through, or by pedestrians pushing the wrong button (most intersections have 2 buttons, one for each direction) or pushing the button then crossing the street without waiting for the walk signal. Occasionally a malfunctioning vehicle detector or pedestrian push button will cause the controller to initiate and extend an unnecessary phase for no apparent reason. If the problem persists, please notify Engineering Services.
17. Why did I have to wait so long for the Traffic Signal to change? / Why does the Traffic Signal change so quickly?
The Traffic Signals are programmed with both minimum and maximum times for each phase. The cycle length will vary within these guidelines based on the actual traffic patterns at the intersection. The Traffic Signals will either cycle almost immediately or slowly when a vehicle approaches from the side street depending on what stage of the cycle the controller is currently in, and the traffic patterns at the time. If a vehicle approaches from the side street just after a green light ended, the vehicle will have to wait for a full cycle for another green. However, if the vehicle approaches from the side street after the minimum green time for the main road has passed, the signals may cycle almost immediately if there is limited traffic on the main road.
18. What do I do if the Traffic Signals are not working?
Traffic Signals that are not operating can cause serious problems, particularly at times of heavy traffic. In the event of a major malfunction, the Traffic Signals will enter “Flash” mode. In a power outage, the signals will not operate at all. In both cases approach the intersection with extreme caution and proceed only when it is safe. Traffic signals that are dark (power outage) revert to 4-way stop rules. A flashing red light is the same as a stop sign, a flashing amber (yellow) light is a caution light that means to proceed with care. The Town of Okotoks should be notified immediately about a malfunctioning set of signals and we will make the repair as soon as possible.