The Town and its partners, Westwinds Communities (WC) and the Brenda Strafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (BSS), are pleased to announce that today marked the official launch of the D’Arcy Affordable Housing project. The project, which will help boost local economies by increasing the purchasing power of residents and by attracting employers with the promise of a stable workforce, will be built in the newly developed D’Arcy neighbourhood.
“Okotoks Town Council and administration are very proud to be a part of this long-awaited project. Adding more purpose-built rental units in Okotoks will fill a gap that has existed for years. The project aligns with Council’s strategic priorities, specifically to manage community growth and strengthen a healthy and safe community. Providing affordable and diverse housing options in our community will fit our residents’ needs at every age and stage of their lives,” said Deputy Mayor Florence Christophers.
This project also reflects the recommendations in the Affordable Housing Strategy to maintain and establish new partnerships that will get affordable housing built. The strategy, developed by the volunteer Affordable Housing Taskforce, was approved by Council in September 2020.
Westwinds Communities, is a not-for-profit organization that provides quality housing and supportive services for seniors, as well as subsidized housing and services for individuals and families. Westwinds has been the largest provider of affordable housing options in the Foothills Region since 1960. Today, they serve more than 550 households across 15 communities, helping people to put down roots, build social supports, and make meaningful contributions that strengthen their families and community.
“We feel privileged to work alongside the Town of Okotoks and Brenda Strafford Society to enhance the spectrum of affordable housing,” says Lauren Ingalls, Chief Administrative Officer, Westwinds Communities. “This is a critical piece in fostering inclusive communities, and we’re looking forward to engaging with the community on this exciting development.”
Westwinds is planning to build 52 below-market rental units in two buildings, which will be completed in two phases. Their units will provide housing primarily for families, couples, roommates and seniors who are currently on housing waitlists in addition to a housing program for youth. The first phase of construction includes 20 units and the second phase provides an additional 32 units, in a stacked townhouse development.
The Brenda Strafford Society, registered charitable organization, provides safe housing and comprehensive support services for women and children impacted by family violence. Providing local services that will sustain natural connections and allow families to remain in their community helps ensure futures free from abuse. BSS is excited to be a part of this partnership and to help advance the Town of Okotoks’ commitment to fostering a healthy and safe community.
The BSS proposes to build 42 supportive housing units with common amenity spaces and in- house services for women and families impacted by domestic violence. The development will closely mirror the Society’s Calgary-based model of service and housing that has successfully supported women and families in their transition to independence for the past 25 years.
An additional acre is available to develop 44 market-rate rental units, which could potentially be owned and operated by a private builder. The Town will recoup a portion of the cost for the land through this development.
The vision of this project is to create a complete and welcoming community for all. By aligning with the Town’s new Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw, and through this partnership and future relationships, long-term affordable housing will be supported, resulting in diverse neighbourhoods and an inclusive community. It will enable Okotoks residents to remain in the community throughout their lives as they transition through the continuum of their housing needs.
During the regular meeting on May 10, Town Council approved a motion to transfer approximately 2 acres in the D’Arcy neighbourhood to WC and BSS to advance affordable housing options in Okotoks.
The Town has contributed the land and WC and BSS will assume all costs for site development, permitting and construction costs for their portions of the site. Site development is expected to be completed in 2021, with construction beginning in fall, 2022.