January 7, 2019
Council explores shared partnerships for a downtown arts & learning campus
At the January 7 meeting, Town Council approved a motion to explore re-development options for the municipal land along Riverside Drive to include a downtown arts and learning campus.
“A shared arts and learning campus would promote economic development, provide access to quality infrastructure that would foster a balanced community, and enhance the downtown core,” said Mayor Bill Robertson. “A shared space would also provide opportunities for the Town to seek alternate infrastructure funding to meet the needs of arts, culture, recreation, sports, and non-profit groups.”
As the Town has land available within the downtown core, there is the potential for a shared development between the library, Bow Valley College (BVC) and a future performing arts centre. The library has been actively pursuing expansion opportunities and BVC has been searching for space to expand their current location. As well, the Town has already completed a performing arts feasibility study on the former creamery site in 2017.
Administration will prepare a preliminary conceptual plan to present to Council by February 25, 2019.
A significant consideration in any proposed design would be to follow the environmental guidelines established in the Sheep River Management Plan,” said Robertson. “Protecting the Sheep River, its water quality and eco systems, will be a priority.”
The reality of municipal capital budgets requires the Town to explore non-traditional methods of achieving community objectives. Creating a multi-purpose campus opens opportunities to have conversations with potential partners such as local school boards to identify their long-term needs and interests, discussing leasing options with BVC, and exploring cost-sharing alternatives with the library.
To achieve the full vision, discussions would also include potential partnerships to meet the needs of a performing arts centre.
A financial impact report will be developed, based upon alternate funding and ownership models including traditional ownership, lease-to-own, and leased space. The report will also include potential operating and capital budget impacts, including phasing, and will be presented to Council by May 26, 2019.
“Gaining a greater understanding of the long term fiscal impacts will make us well-prepared to plan for the future,” said Elaine Vincent, chief administrative officer. “This is an opportunity to think big and be future-focused while balancing the immediate needs of multiple stakeholders for the benefit of the community.”
February 26, 2019
Council approves next steps for proposed Arts and Learning Campus
At the February 25 meeting, Council approved a recommendation to explore funding, financing and ownership options to determine the feasibility of the proposed Okotoks Arts and Learning Campus along Riverside Drive.
The campus includes several external partners who need to expand their space and administration has been working with them to refine their needs for the potential development, while ensuring that it meets the needs of the downtown and the community.
“All the stakeholders involved have a learning focus and offer a tremendous opportunity to co-locate, share resources and establish a vibrant Arts and Learning Campus that strengthens the downtown,” said CAO Elaine Vincent. “Together with the future performing arts centre, this campus can create a vital, shared asset for the community.”
Administration presented four potential designs for the site, which encompasses the current library and Ethel Tucker Park. All four concepts take into consideration key challenges including developing along a flood fringe, the proximity of the rail line and maintaining current park space.
The artist renderings offer a vision for what the future campus could look like. They are in alignment with environmental guidelines established in the Sheep River Management Plan, which protects the Sheep River and maintains the green space along the river. The renderings also include concepts for enhancing the pedestrian connection between the downtown and the river valley that incorporate existing networks.
“The renderings are ideas only at this point,” said Vincent. “The Town will be seeking public input to refine the concepts and learn how the community sees this downtown enhancement project progressing.”
Public participation opportunities will be available soon and residents, businesses and key stakeholders will be encouraged to get involved. Continue to check this page for details.