**Update: On June 28, Council provided additional information to provide clarity and address residents concerns around the ecovillage. Read the full details
Council has directed administration to include additional limitations to the lease agreement with Realize Communities in response to citizens’ concerns regarding the ecovillage development within the Homestead Project.
“Council recognizes the effort that our residents have taken to bring forward their concerns,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “Council has responded with two additional clauses in the lease agreement that further protects taxpayers and will ensure a long-term return on the community’s investment.”
To provide ratepayers with annual revenue from this portion of the Homestead Project, the additional limitations within the lease will require Realize Communities to pay a lease fee equivalent to property taxes.
Additionally Realize Communities will be required to repay 50 percent of the Town’s estimated $3.34 million land development costs for the 2.8 acre ecovillage over the term of the lease. This is similar to agreements for affordable housing projects the Town has with Westwinds Communities and Rowan House, where a portion of the Town’s funding support will be reimbursed.
Council had previously stipulated that the final lease agreement must include several principle controls to ensure the Town retains ownership of the land in perpetuity, that taxpayers will not be responsible for any financial obligations not met by Realize Communities, and that any profits be reinvested into the village or Okotoks community.
“Due to the confidentiality of the lease negotiations, we were unable to release these details earlier,” said Robertson. “I’m pleased that we are able to share this information and demonstrate Council’s commitment to being fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.”
Council directed administration to bring the final proposed lease agreement back for consideration on or before the September 9 meeting.
The Homestead Project encompasses 10 acres in the D’Arcy neighbourhood including the original farm site, whose buildings are currently being evaluated for heritage designation. If the lease agreement is approved, the Town will provide infrastructure and servicing for the 2.8 acre portion of the site where the ecovillage will be located. The Town will also landscape the ecovillage and an additional area for a public garden and greenspace. This will be funded through the capital reserve fund and will have no impact on property taxes.
This represents the first phase of development for the Homestead Project. The remaining 6.6 acres is anticipated to be completed through three more phases over the next 10 years. Community input will be sought throughout the process and will help identify the best community uses for this site.
The Town received the 10-acre parcel as part of a 1994 annexation agreement that was in addition to Municipal and School Reserve lands. The site can only be used for recreational, educational or any other municipal purposes such as community facilities or affordable housing.