Okotoks Wind Walk development blows in a new direction

Posted by on Thursday, April 13th, 2017 at 10:01am.

As the province considers annexation plans proposed by the Town of Okotoks in a bid to accommodate new growth, the developers of a residential area just outside current town limits unveiled growth plans of their own.

Wind Walk was first announced nine years ago.  It was supposed to be a cutting edge, highly sustainably community conceived by Mike Holmes, contractor/builder/turned TV star often seen on Home and Garden cable channels.  It was planned for south of Hwy 7 near 783 in Foothills County.

Earlier in April, the current developers hosted an open house in Okotoks and revealed their new area structure plan for the 145-acre land, and if the province approves the town’s annexation proposal, Wind Walk will be a new neighbourhood within town limits.

Contained in the new ASP are provisions for a K-Grade 9 school and a commercial/retail centre.  However, they would like to build more homes than originally intended.  Two and a half more homes than they had originally put forward.  Despite the increased volume, the developers say they will still be guided by their original vision and principles for the neighbourhood.

Allan Mar, who is the CEO of Alberta Foothills Properties Ltd, the new owner of the land, said Wind Walk will still be a sustainable community, smartly built and highly walkable.

The original plans when the community was first publicly presented in 2008, were to construct 457 detached and multi-family homes plus retail/commercial space.  The plan was to be as green as possible to keep energy costs down and conserve water.  The plan revealed April 5 shows capacity for 1,147 structures with a proposed density of 8 units an acre – still with single-family homes and multi-family developments and with the addition of duplexes.

Roads into the revised Wind Walk plan show access from two points along Highway 783.  There will be an addition commercial lot adjacent to the community’s main gate plus pathways and storm water ponds.  Water and waste water will be connected to the Town of Okotoks facilities.

The developer has a water license which would be transferred to the town.

Further, they have already have an agreement with Axia, an internet provide, to wire the community for fibre optics and high speed service to every building in the area. In keeping with their original plan, homes would be solar-ready for those wishing to install panels on their homes.

The new ASP won’t be submitted to the Town of Okotoks for final sign-off until they’ve heard back from the province about annexing surrounding land from the MD of Foothills.  At that time there will be more public hearings with the Municipal Planning Commission and then formal discussions with the Town.

The soonest Mar and Alberta Foothills can put shovels in the ground would be October 1, 2017, as long as everything goes to plan.

This development hasn’t always been popular, both with the town and the county, particularly because Wind Walk wanted to tie into town services when it wasn’t even under its jurisdiction.  However, discussions have never completely broken down and now the Town of Okotoks, which anticipates that annexation will be given the green light by the province, is working towards positive outcomes in Wind Walk.

After the April 5 open house to reveal the revised plans, a resident who lives south of the location wants to see local road improvements done before construction begins.

Kelly Lush told the Okotoks Western Wheel that Highway 783 needs some upgrades where it intersects with Highway 7 since development will bring more traffic.

There has been a study by the province of these roadways to see if twinning a section of 783 and widening Highway 7 is required.  The results have not been revealed.

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