There were a few challenges in 2015 in Okotoks. Name one place in Alberta that didn’t have any last year.
But there were many highlights in the Town last year on which to build a prosperous 2016.
Those high points include the development of a much needed regional water pipeline, the proposed construction of a recreation/education campus on the north end of town and continued annexation and growth.
Water for Life
As the town continues to update its water supply with the regional pipeline from Calgary, the biggest challenge has been in working with the provincial government and the continued administration turnover as the party in charge keeps changing.
Since 2013, there have been seven municipal affairs ministers, a revolving door of bureaucracy that keeps the pipeline project in limbo. Government funding is a moving target. The mayor of Okotoks, Bill Robertson, told the Okotoks Western Wheel newspaper that he is cautiously optimistic that by spring, the Water for Life project will receive its funding.
New recreation and education facility
Okotoks already has some fine recreational facilities for a municipality of its size. With the announcement of a future recreation and education complex on the north side of town. This eventuality, plus the new Crescent Point Regional Field House which is operated in conjunction with the Foothills County, is adding to the quality of life for Okotoks residents.
The beautiful new field house has been in operation for a year and recently, a public open house was held to mark the occasion.
Also in 2016, construction of new rec space will begin at the Pason Centennial Arena which will also be twinned with an NHL-sized arena and a leisure rink. In October, the Master’s Grand Slam comes to Okotoks Centennial Arena. This huge curling bonspiel is a national event and will be broadcast on television coast-to-coast on TSN.
Annexation of Wind Walk
Wind Walk is a 147-acre residential community south of Highway 7 and as a neighbourhood has expressed interest in being absorbed by the Town of Okotoks. This would broaden the tax base for the Town and bring enhanced municipal services to the community.
Rebranding and redevelopment of Olde Towne Okotoks is also in the works with a goal to creating a vibrant downtown area.
Just like most of the world, Okotoks will play its part in welcoming Syrian refugee families in the first six months of this year. A committee has already been struck by town council to help make their transition into a new country and a new home as smooth as possible.
All in all, council has planned for 2016 in a fiscally responsible way by introducing a 1.6% property tax increase. And while the economic downturn will continue to pose new challenges for the municipality, the mayor believes that the slowdown will actually help Okotoks catch its breath. Remarkably rapid growth in the past 10 years has been good for the town, but Robertson stated that he would like the town to achieve some balance and perhaps catch up with non-urgent infrastructure projects.