Nov. 01, 2017 | Kathleen Renne
Open for businessOkotoks is the land of opportunity for developers and prospective residents alike
"An easy sell." That's how Okotoks' economic development specialist Alexandra Ross describes the process of attracting developers to the town.
"Okotoks has all the amenities of a big city, including its own Costco store, but it still has a small-town feel," said Ross.
Perhaps it goes without saying that Okotoks' proximity to Calgary makes it an attractive option for people who work in Calgary, but don't want to reside in a city of more than one million people. And developers know that, too. Ross acknowledges the town's closeness to Calgary as a "unique feature" that makes it attractive to builders. She estimates it takes less than 40 minutes to drive to the Calgary International Airport and only 15 minutes to reach the southern edge of the city.
"Okotoks is much more than a bedroom community or satellite town. Yes, the proximity to Calgary is great, however, Okotoks has maintained its character and identity throughout its growth," said Steven LePan, director of sales and marketing for Anthem United, the developer behind Drake Landing in Okotoks. "It's a unique community unto itself, a haven for families offering value without sacrificing amenities – and it's a gateway to the foothills and Rockies."
Anthem has just started constructing one of its most highly anticipated Okotoks communities: D'Arcy. D'Arcy will occupy 280 acres on the north side of town, part of the 4,900 acres of land Okotoks recently annexed to provide room for the town's future growth. Show homes will open in Spring 2018 and D'Arcy's first phase will offer many options for first-time homebuyers, including Okotoks' first duplex homes.
"(Okotoks is) a unique community unto itself, a haven for families offering value without sacrificing amenities – and it's a gateway to the foothills and Rockies." - Steven LePan, director of sales and marketing for Anthem United
Wind Walk is another community in the planning stages that will occupy nearly 145 acres of the recently annexed land. It's dedicated to the "utilization of sustainable, innovative and low-impact development practices."
Ross also points to Okotoks' 85 kilometres of pathways for biking and walking, and its 210 acres of naturalized land, as an amenity that helps sell Okotoks to developers, as Okotoks can offer residents many opportunities for active lifestyles.
Real-estate development and building company Apex is focusing upon nature in its current Okotoks development, MountainView, which is now in its fourth phase. In fact, nearly 50 per cent of MountainView is green space in the form of playground parks, pedestrian parkways, environmental reserves or wet ponds.
"Builders are attracted to Okotoks because it offers small-town living, beautiful naturalized lands, gorgeous mountain views, larger lot sizes and it's about $70,000 cheaper to build in MountainView than in Calgary," said Kayla-Rae Maurer, land administrator with Apex. "It's a little bit of country living, but at the same time, offers major box stores, so all you need is close."
Ross also points to the active and varied cultural offerings in Okotoks, educational opportunities (including a Bow Valley College satellite campus), recreational facilities, and the town's safety record as factors that make Okotoks a great place to live and an attractive option for developers.
"The Town of Okotoks takes an active role in planning a safe and sustainable place to live," said LePan. "The landscape offers unbelievable views, and the entrepreneurial spirit in the town makes for a vibrant lifestyle."
When it comes to "entrepreneurial spirit," Okotoks does not charge business taxes – except for professional services like dentistry – to encourage a thriving business community. Last year, Ross says, there were about 50 inquiries regarding new businesses. So far this year, that number has more than doubled.
"We want to make Okotoks a place where people can live and work," she said.
Tagged: Alexandra Ross | Anthem | Anthem United | Apex | Bow Valley College | D'Arcy | Drake Landing | Feature | Kayla-Rae Maurer | MountainView | Okotoks | Steven LePan | Surrounding Areas | town of okotoks | United Communities | Wind Walk