At the May 27 regular meeting, Council approved the next steps for the Homestead Project, starting with Phase One, which includes 3.48 acres for community green space and a public/private partnership for an ecovillage.
“This is the next step in the long-term vision for these Town-owned lands that further promotes Okotoks as an environmental leader and increases the potential for economic investment in our town,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “Setting aside 2.8 acres for an ecovillage is an opportunity to work collaboratively with external stakeholders who are funding a significant portion of this innovative project.”
Council directed administration to proceed with the negotiations for a long-term lease agreement with Realize Communities, who will develop the ecovillage in collaboration with the Town. Council passed a motion that a revised draft land lease agreement between the Town of Okotoks and Realize Communities, as amended In Camera, be brought back to Council for consideration by the end of June 2019.
Realize Communities will then manage and operate the ecovillage over a long-term lease. Council has stipulated that the final lease agreement must include several principle controls including clauses that ensure the Town retains ownership of the land in perpetuity, that taxpayers will not be responsible for any financial obligations not met by the leasee, and that any profits be reinvested into the village or Okotoks community.
The first phase of the project will be completed by 2021, while the entire 10-acre parcel will be developed over the next decade. There is currently no start date for the subsequent phases as the Town must complete its corporate land strategy and explore other opportunities for collaboration with external partners.
“Realize Communities is the first partnership for this site,” said CAO Elaine Vincent. “There is potential to explore additional partnerships with the private sector, post-secondary institutions, and other levels of government for the remaining 6.52 acres to further enhance the Town’s goals in economic development, innovation, urban design, and environmental stewardship.”
The 10-acre parcel of land is located in the D’Arcy development and was set aside as a Municipal Dedication Site when the developer purchased the D’Arcy lands in 1994. The proposed Homestead Project conforms to the requirements that the land only be used for municipal purposes and can never be sold.
Next steps include developing a comprehensive public participation strategy to involve the community in project planning for the entire Homestead Project and in choosing a formal name.
The Town will also collaborate with Realize Communities to host design charrettes with key stakeholders for the ecovillage development, including the regional sustainable design community, utilities, ecovillage design experts, and post-secondary institutions. During the charrettes, which are focused design workshops, participants will explore opportunities for innovation in environmental design excellence and fostering social and cultural connectivity.
More details about the project are available at www.okotoks.ca/homesteadproject.