Town provides clarity on Homestead Project

June 28, 2019

The Town is providing clarity about the Homestead Project in response to concerns brought to Council by the Okotoks Ratepayers Community Group at the June 24 meeting.

“As Council heard from the group’s representatives, it became clear there has been some misunderstanding about what the Homestead Project includes and the Town’s role in the ecovillage component of it,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “It’s important that the Town share as much information as legally possible.”

The Homestead Project refers to 10 acres of municipal dedication land within the D’Arcy neighbourhood, including the original farm site. The Town negotiated this municipal dedication land during the 1994 annexation of the D’Arcy Lands and is over and above the 10 percent municipal and school reserve required for any neighbourhood development.

Under the agreement, this 10-acre parcel is to be permanently owned by the Town and developed and used for municipal purposes. Municipal purposes include recreational, educational, community facilities or affordable housing.

The Town plans to develop the site through three phases over the next 10 years, seeking grant funding and financial support whenever possible. The first phase of development will occur between 2019-2021, which includes approximately one acre for community gardens and public green space and 2.8 acres for the ecovillage.

As the land owner, the Town needs to grade and service the site before any development can occur. This is a requirement for any lease agreement. Once the infrastructure is in place, it will have a life-cycle of approximately 100 years.

Grading and servicing the land, and completing the environmental elements for the ecovillage will cost approximately $3.34 million. An additional $900,000 needs to be set aside to complete the design and plan for the entire 10 acres, and to build community gardens and green space in phase 1. The total Town investment will be approximately $4.24 million for the first phase.

Realize Communities is responsible for funding and building the tiny homes and ecovillage central building. The non-profit organization is investing $4.4 million into the project, with support from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

The Town is negotiating a lease agreement with Realize Communities that will provide a return on the Town’s investment and will ensure a high standard of maintenance for the ecovillage.

In the lease agreement, Realize Communities will:

  • Repay 50% of the land development and servicing costs, over the term of the lease
  • Pay annual lease fees equal to property taxes.

Based on the initial estimation, the total amount that will be reimbursed to the Town over the term of the lease is approximately $6 million.

For a detailed response on each of the 14 points presented to Council by the Ratepayers group, and for more information on the Homestead Project and affordable housing, please go to okotoks.ca/homestead.