At the February 11 meeting, Council approved the conceptual design for a project on the 10-acre Town-owned lands in the D’Arcy neighbourhood that will initially be referred to as the “Homestead” project.
The project concept includes 7.2 acres for a variety of community amenities that would be phased in over time. These amenities include several community buildings with flexible programming space, park space, a trail network, an amphitheatre, a commercial greenhouse, and community gardens. The remaining 2.8 acres is designated for a ecovillage, which would be built in the first phase of development. It is estimated the entire Homestead project will cost approximately $17.92 million.
“The vision for the Homestead project provides Okotoks the opportunity to model environmental excellence and sustainable urban design, which aligns well with Council’s strategic priorities,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “The public spaces are designed to become focal points of community gathering that build social connections, while the ecovillage will increase the diversity of housing options for Okotoks.”
The ecovillage would be the first phase in the project with an estimated cost of $7.02 million. External contributions would represent more than 60 percent of the total cost ($4.4 million), with the Town providing the land and approximately $2.62 million in infrastructure to service the 2.8 acre ecovillage.
“The Homestead project will create spaces that allow all Okotoks’ residents to build social connections while also incorporating innovative environmental elements,” said Environment and Sustainability Manager Dawn Smith. “The goal is to honour this area’s rich cultural history and create public spaces that benefit both the village residents and the larger Okotoks community.”
Council directed administration to act as the land developer for the project and to begin land lease negotiations with Realize Communities as the builder and administrator of the ecovillage component. Realize Communities was created by Vagabond Tiny Homes as the non-profit organization representing the needs of the ecovillage. A proposed lease agreement will be presented to Council by April 30, 2019 when Council will make a final decision on whether to proceed. All project funding is dependent on successful land lease negotiations.
Council directed that land lease negotiations must include several controls that will mitigate risks and protect the interests of the Town and its citizens. These include maintaining ownership of the land, guaranteeing affordable housing options are upheld, and ensuring taxpayers will not be responsible for any financial obligations not met by the ecovillage leasee.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Affordable Housing Innovation Fund will be providing external funding through an agreement with Realize Communities.
Council and administration are committed to keeping the community informed as the project progresses. The community will be invited to learn more about the proposed Homestead project and provide feedback in early March 2019.
For more information, the full report to Council and to sign up for emails on project updates visit www.okotoks.ca/EcoVillage