Big Things in 2019!
Promoting economic growth
Council has identified economic development as a main priority for 2019 and has allocated resources to support the updated economic development plan with initiatives and activities to achieve the strategic priorities: These include:
- Launching a business retention and expansion program through initiatives such as expanded business visitation, providing business program information and support, and assisting business owners in navigating development approvals.
- Becoming investment ready, with a plan that incorporates an integrated approach to providing the infrastructure, services and policy framework to support investment readiness.
- Building on collaborative regional economic development efforts.
- Focusing on increasing activity in the downtown core, and offering businesses incentives to increase customers such as a façade program, permits pop-up-patios etc.
- Enhancing partnerships with key stakeholders such as the Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures and local business organizations;
- Targeting specific industry sectors such as professional, scientific and technical services; manufacturing; agri-business services; food and beverage and the film industry.
Some initiatives that foster economic growth are already underway, such as Land Use Bylaw amendments that expand business opportunities for microbreweries and distilleries, the adoption of the Downtown Urban Design Masterplan, and internal changes that actively lead entrepreneurs and small businesses through the development process.
Advancing Affordable Housing Through Partnerships
Town Council directed administration to purchase land to advance affordable housing and transitional housing within Okotoks, in partnership with Westwinds Communities and Rowan House. Westwinds Communities is proposing to build a 60-unit facility with 15 units allocated as market housing and 45 units as non-market (affordable) housing. Westwinds would reimburse the Town for all land costs for the market units, and has capacity to reimburse up to 50 percent for the remaining units. Rowan House Society is planning to build a 16-unit transitional housing support facility on the same land.
Council explores shared partnerships for a downtown arts & learning campus
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.
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.
Rogers Hometown Hockey is coming to Okotoks in 2019
Okotoks has been selected as a host community for this season’s Rogers Hometown Hockey tour. The Town of Okotoks is proud to partner with Rogers to offer this once-in-a-lifetime community event. Hometown Hockey is a great opportunity to showcase our beautiful town and community spirit to the many visitors who will attend the festival, and to television audiences across Canada on Sportsnet. It also allows us to share Okotoks’ hockey culture and history. Live on location, MacLean and Slone will host a pre-game, intermission and post-game show from the Sportsnet Mobile Studio, shining the spotlight on local culture, hockey history and the unique story of Okotoks. The festival event will come to Okotoks February 23-24 and includes free family-friendly music and activities.
Begin the Wastewater treatment plant expansion
As part of the 2005 upgrade, the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) was modified to use a Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) process. BNR is a biological process used for nitrogen and phosphorus removal from wastewater before it is discharged into natural water bodies to minimize the impact on aquatic life. The proposed expansion to the multi-year wastewater treatment plant will add an additional train, which would enable the Town to take one train out of service so that it could be maintained while the other continues to provide wastewater treatment. This allows the WWTP to maintain and optimize performance today and into the future.
Implement local in-town transit
Using community input from numerous events and from an online survey, the Town has created a transit plan based on an “on-demand” system with smaller transit vehicles. The Local Transit Implementation Plan project report is currently being reviewed by Okotoks Town Council. If the transit implementation plan is approved, this service will be implemented later this year.
Foothills Centennial Centre Management
The Town of Okotoks assumed the management of the Foothills Centennial Centre, beginning January, 2019. More information about any adjustments to booking procedures, contact information etc. will be shared with the public once details for the transition have been finalized.
This multi-purpose complex includes a seniors’ centre, meeting rooms, covered outdoor patio, commercial kitchen, and a 10,000 square foot hall that can be divided into four smaller halls. The facility holds weddings, fundraisers, community events and various other functions.
Begin Rewriting the Land Use Bylaw in 2019
Once the new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is completed, the Town’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) will be updated to align with the new MDP. The LUB is Council’s regulatory document that establishes the requirements on how the community will achieve the MDP’s vision by defining different types of land use through a variety of Land Use Zones or districts such as commercial, industrial, residential, institutional, parks and open space.
The LUB also sets the standards for orderly development such as minimum lot sizes for housing and commercial buildings, parking requirements and other regulations that ultimately determine what Okotoks will look like in the future. The LUB can govern everything from how complete neighbourhoods are built to the requirements for building fences, decks and landscaping.
The updated LUB will also include standards that reflect the current and future anticipated impacts and risks associated with climate change as well as the community’s appreciation for natural values, ecosystems etc. Citizen input will play a major role in helping to rewrite the LUB and there will be many opportunities for the public to provide input.
Review the Development Permit Process
Administration will be reviewing the development permit process in order to make it more efficient and streamlined for applicants. This may involve creating a single application process that includes development permit, building permit and business licence in order to save time and create a simpler experience for the customer or client. The process will also need to consider the role of the development authority in meeting certain local standards and provincial legislation. The review process is expected to begin this spring.
Enhancing the landscape around Laurie Boyd bridge
Starting this spring/summer, landscaping around the Laurie Boyd Bridge area will begin. The work will include installing a new re-dedication plaque.