The Town of Okotoks and Wind Walk developers have signed a memorandum of understanding which could see the community annexed into the municipality.
Developed by Holmes Group, a company founded by TV contractor Mike Holmes, Wind Walk has been in discussion with the town throughout its short eight-year history. The major hold up in being absorbed into the town has been a secure water source.
A spokesman for The Holmes Group has indicated that water licenses have been obtained. Alberta Environment has only to sign off on a transfer application.
The primary benefit of annexation is being able to access the town’s water and wastewater systems at some point in the future.
The current understanding is a stop-gap measure before formal annexation procedures can be put into place. The agreement provides access for Wind Walk to tap into the town’s water system with permanent construction to follow once annexation is officially approved and completed.
The understanding means the Town of Okotoks can give The Holmes Group a commitment and timeline for services.
Wind Walk is 147 acres south of Highway 7 and it is now part of the town’s annexation plan going forward. The town must take any annexation plans and discussions to Foothills County council. Talks between the two are still ongoing with approval of the first phase of Wind Walk in the works. The Holmes Group wants to connect to the town’s water works for the development’s first phase. Plans for Phases Two and Three include a water pipeline which will originate in Calgary.
A spokesman for the Town of Okotoks said details are confidential but that the agreement looks positive.
Wind Walk was announced in 2008 as an environmentally conscious development with plans submitted to Foothills County the following year. However, the developers became embroiled in legal technicalities and disagreements. Foothills approved the area structure plan for Wind Walk in 2010. Challenges to the project between the Town of Okotoks and Foothills County went all the way to the Supreme Court. Adding to the quagmire of controversy has been the issue of a secure water source. The Holmes Group had proposed using groundwater but a provincial body turned town the request.
Town council told the Okotoks Western Wheel newspaper that past disagreements need to be put behind and that it’s long past time to move forward.
Annexation was reviewed in a new light when the Town of Okotoks decided to eliminate the population cap they had put in place in a bid to manage growth. The Calgary waterline solution was also a plus in the developer’s favour.
As things push forward, work can start on the community.
When Wind Walk was publicly announced in 2008, the proposal called for 457 residences with capacity for 1,100 people. With annexation now part of the equation, this community may become denser and may include some multi-family development.
The Holmes Group is still committed to building this sustainable neighbourhood with the latest in green technology with super-high-efficiency houses and a district energy system. Other developments such as this have been approved and developed in other Canadian centres but the company considers Wind Walk to be the “crown jewel”.