Chestermere Mayor Patricia Matthews credited the Bee City designation to the efforts of community members who brought forward a great idea to make the city a better place. CREB®Now file photo
March 14, 2016 | Alex Frazer Harrison
Force to be reckoned with
Chestermere's growth reflects growing interest in satellite communities, say officials
The first permanent homes in Chestermere were built he same year the first Star Wars film came out: 1977
Seven movies later, the city's population is approaching 19,500 – with proposed development expected to double that number in the years to come.
"Fantastic cities attract fantastic people," said Mayor Patricia Matthews. "We have this huge body of water that's a great attractor for a lot of people. You get that feel of being out in the country – that retreat moment when you come home."
Matthews noted Chestermere has grown so quickly, it almost "becomes a different community every three years with the amount of growth we've had."
The city met this growth by annexing 2,225 hectares in 2009. An annexation plan for more than 10,000 additional hectares was withdrawn this month, pending mediation with Rocky View County.
"Chestermere has a great entrepreneurial spirit and we have a large number of home-based businesses," said Matthews about one draw. "We want to make sure (they have a) path to grow up and out."
To this end, the City has purchased land for light industrial and commercial development on the southeast side of the lake, she said.
"Chestermere has a great entrepreneurial spirit and we have a large number of home-based businesses. We want to make sure (they have a) path to grow up and out."
Now that several new communities have received approval or are in the approvals process, "we expect that residential permit applications will grow significantly again," said Megan Matthies, corporate communications strategist with the City, which is projecting 1,200 new builds this year, one-third of which will be multi-family.
Matthies said five new community developments either have an Area Structure Plan (ASP) approved or are working through the process: North Westmere by McIvor Developments Ltd., South Shores by Edgewater Inc., Edgewater Crossing by Truman Development, and Chestermere Gateway by WestCreek Developments and United Communities.
Gateway's ASP covers more than 500 hecatres on the west side of Chestermere where some 20,000 will call the area home. The area is also expected to include a major commercial hub.
"For us, the appeal of Chestermere is they want to keep the small-town feel while they grow," said WestCreek planning manager Catherine Agar, adding Chestermere's recreational amenities are a major selling feature.
Gateway is envisioned as an area "where residents can live, work and play – not everyone will have to leave Chestermere to work and it'll create more opportunities," said Agar.
United Communities marketing director Steve LePan added Gateway is actually closer to downtown Calgary than some Calgary neighbourhoods.
"The appeal of Chestermere is its recreation and family focus – we think it'll have a strong appeal, matched with high demand," he said.
Buyers in the city are coming from all over the place – including Chestermere itself, said Dennis Burnell, area sales manager with Stepper Homes Ltd., which has show homes in the Kinniburgh community
"A lot of people who come in here who are looking to upgrade their home or build a new home are actually from Chestermere," he said. "When that happens, it tells you they're happy with the community. They want a larger home, a newer home, but they want to stay in the community."
Large lot sizes are also a draw, said Burnell, noting that while lot prices may not be that much different than Calgary's, "what they get, size-wise, we are in the 50-plus-feet-wide range, as opposed to 36 or 38 feet wide, for the same price."
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