If you are interested in living in the ecovillage, contact Realize Communities at email@example.com
Tuesday, July 9 ,2019
Below is a link to a summary sheet for Okotoks taxpayers on understanding facts and finances around the 2.8 acre ecovillage component in Phase 1 of the Homestead Project.
Friday, June 28, 2019
Town provides clarity on Homestead Project
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 26 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.”
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Council Responds to Resident Concerns with Ecovillage
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 negotiated 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.
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Council Approves First Phase of Homestead Project
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.
View the Report to Council (starts on page 40)