Council Community Connector
Questions from the public
These are the list of questions Council received prior to the event and ones that were submitted during it that Council did not have time to answer.
Submissions included questions about the cost sharing agreement with Foothills County, government funding opportunities, details about the land right-of-way for the pipeline, future utility billing and whether the reservoir would be accessible for public recreation.
Cost-sharing principles will be divided based on the percentage of water each partner will be accessing. This will allocate $24.47 million to Okotoks and $9.76 million to Foothills County.
This collaboration is an opportunity with our municipal neighbours to obtain improved water-security for each of our communities by diversifying our water sources to include the Bow River
The partners are currently working on a joint application for grant funding from the province
The billing process will continue to be assessed based on individual usage
We have received several submitted questions regarding the roles, responsibilities and governance model for the CMRB, and the long-term impact of the growth plan to the Okotoks community. There has also been questions about Calgary’s veto power.
Okotoks Council has played an important role in guiding the process for the CMRB growth plan through the work that staff and elected officials have done to ensure Okotoks’ interests are represented. The CMRB influences the long-term planning for the town and the work that staff do on behalf of the community so their involvement on the various committees ensures that policies and plans are in alignment.
The CMRB builds on synergies that already exist within the region that could reduce duplication or redundancy of infrastructure (roads, water, wastewater) and services (transit, recreation, etc) resulting in costs savings and less tax dollars used to support growth. This enhanced coordination will also help to minimize the impact to the region’s natural systems, including water resources.
The Town already has shared-use agreements with the County for recreation programs and services, including the Crescent Point Field house, and will continue to support partnerships with our neighbouring municipalities.
The latest version of the Growth Plan has addressed many of the concerns raised by:
Revising the boundaries of Joint Planning Areas and providing greater clarity on implementation
Lowering certain density requirements in rural areas
Adding local employment and small scale residential opportunities that do not require CMRB approval
Providing the ability for rural municipalities to identify new growth areas or intensify existing areas, subject to minimum criteria
Adding a general exception policy that allows member municipalities to bring forward unique development proposals that may not fit within the policies of the Growth Plan
In terms of the veto power, It is technically true that if Calgary doesn’t support something it is ‘vetoed’; however it is important to note that anything Calgary wants to go forward, they cannot unilaterally make happen. They need 6 votes in favour of their proposal. A majority vote at the CMRB must pass two tests:
- Is Calgary in favour of it
- Have 7 votes been cast in favour including Calgary
We have been asked about the current investment the Town has made to support affordable housing
- In 2019 Council directed administration to purchase land in the D’Arcy neighbourhood to support affordable housing and is currently working with partners to develop this land.
- Council has recently approved two grant programs to support increased affordable housing units. The Below Market Housing Incentive Grant program will provide an incentive for developers to build below market housing that must be rented at a minimum of 20 percent below market rate for a minimum time period of 20 years. Council approved a budget of $135,000 in 2021 and $150,000 in future years Developers will be able to apply for a grant up to $15,000 per unit for townhomes, duplexes and apartments within Okotoks. Details on how to apply will be available soon
- Council also approved an annual budget of $65,000 for the Secondary Suite and Accessory Dwelling Unit Grant program to offset the costs for homeowners to upgrade an existing suite, or construct a new suite or accessory dwelling. Details on how to apply will be available soon.
More details are in the Affordable Housing Strategy
These are general questions Council received but were unable to answer during the Connector event:
We have received questions regarding land purchases by the Town over the past three years, and when the Bible camp lands, in particular will be open to the public.
- It’s been a long standing practice to buy property in the river valley as opportunities arise and the acquisition of two parcels of land including the bible camp lands ensures this important natural area is preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come. The total area for the bible camp lands is 28.8 acres and was purchased for $1.27 million. The first priority is to consult with the public and start the design for this property. This will be brought forward in 2022 as a project, so it will not be available to the public in 2021.
- As part of the ALC project the Town is exploring a credit to Foothills School Division for a small parcel on South Railway Street. The home on the site was demolished and landfilled and the land was backfilled and levelled. More details will be shared as the project progresses.
- Another home was also purchased in conjunction with the ALC project with the condition that it is rented to the previous owner until she no longer occupies the home. This was to ensure there that Stage 2 of the Arts and Learning Campus could advance when the time came.
- Recently the Council approved the repurchasing of the landmark site in the downtown area. This is a key location and retaining ownership of it will ensure the Town maintains additional levels of control for any development on this key location so Council’s goal to animate the downtown can be achieved.
With the uncertainty of economy - is this council committing future council to the Summer Games - is this realistic financially?
- Council sees an investment in the games as an investment in the future of Okotoks. The economic indicators showed about $750k of return to the local businesses because of the Games. That is why Council feels that investment is so important.
- The community based volunteer Board of Directors will be responsible for organizing the games with Sandi Kennedy as the Chair. The Board is aware of the economic challenges resulting from the COVID Pandemic and are committed to being fiscally responsible throughout the planning stages as well as the event itself.
- The original budget for the games has been reduced by $500K and there is a commitment to purchase locally whenever possible – this could amount to spending of over $800K in services and products. As well, moving the games from 2022 to 2023 provides additional time for the economy to recover. Any financial contribution from the Town has been allocated from reserves and not operating revenue.
- Existing facilities will be used to host the approximately fifteen sports identified in the application submitted to host the games. Major modifications or the construction of new facilities will not be required further decreasing any financial commitment.
- Local sporting events of this nature will provide children between the ages of 12 to 17 years something to look forward to as communities heal from the challenges faced during the pandemic. Competing at home instills pride in community and with over two thousand athletes plus coaches and officials as well as family and friends the economic spin off will be significant.
What/who is the largest users of water in this community?
The top three users are multi-residential buildings, car washes and the recreation centre.