Town of Okotoks
2012 community report
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Town Town of of Okotoks OkotoksTown of Okotoks
Community Report Community Report
Tidbits from 2013
Message from Town Council
Key Result Areas
Planning for the Future
The Town of Okotoks is pleased to present the 2013 Community Report. This publication serves as a report to our residents showcasing progress and achievements towards the key result areas identified in the 2011-2013 Business Plan.
In the Year 2030, Okotoks is a leader in sustainability, driven by an involved, connected and creative community. Through visionary leadership, citizens are engaged in maintaining a safe, caring and vital community that honours our culture, heritage and environment.
The 2014-2017 Business Plan will be published in early 2014. This new four year plan will take Okotoks through the next four year Council Term. Tour of Alberta
Northridge/Southridge Drive Corridor
Interesting Tidbits Did You Know In 2013: • 99% of residents rated the quality of life in Okotoks as good or very good in the 2013 Household Survey! • Money Sense Magazine ranked Okotoks as of one of the Best Places to Live in 2013. Okotoks ranked 36th in Canada out of 200 communities, and 18th nationwide on the Best Small Cities list. • The Okotoks Public Library circulated 355,053 items— that’s 1,060 items checked out for every day the library was open!
• The Okotoks Recreation Centre and Pason Centennial Arena averaged 20,000 and 12,000 people per week respectively. • Overall attendance of annual community events was up 35%. • The Town’s annual Sheep River Valley Clean Up and Arbor Day event saw 222 volunteers plant 3,400 trees, and collect 1,000 kilograms of garbage for the landfill.
• Okotoks.ca saw a steady increase in traffic with over 455,500 visitors and nearly a million page views.
• The bells rang again at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre, renewing a historic tradition in Okotoks—bells originally tolled from 1906 to 1984.
• Overall construction in 2013 was valued at $96 million. Of that, approximately $29 million was for commercial and industrial construction.
• 120,000 people accessed drop in activities at the Okotoks Recreation Centre.
• The Okotoks Physician Attraction & Retention Committee worked collaboratively to find more doctors and medical professionals for Okotoks.
2013 community report
• Okotoks has once again made it on the list of top 25 “Best Communities to do Business in Alberta”, as ranked by Alberta Venture Magazine. This year Okotoks is ranked #4—our best ranking ever!
Message from Town Council
This Community Report highlights the last year of achievements identified in the 2011-2013 Business Plan. Thank you to the 2010-2013 Town Council for their work the last three years to guide the direction of the Business Plan. Town Council and staff had another busy year! In November, Council voted to pursue the development of a regional water system via Calgary to meet future longterm growth needs. Short term water capacity solutions also continue to be a priority, and the Town has been successful with water license transfers. Okotoks remains committed to following our sustainable growth principles, including preservation of the Sheep River watershed.
The June floods caused significant damage to Okotoks. Emergency funding for flood damage was estimated at $4 million. Town resources and staff supported neighbouring communities, and Okotoks hosted close to 180 displaced High River residents for nearly three weeks at the Okotoks Recreation Centre. We are extremely proud of our staff and residents who came together to help others in need.
Okotoks adopted a proposed 60-year annexation plan to support its continued growth model and began the annexation process. Future growth plans will maintain the values and principles that are important to residents such as maintaining a friendly, safe and connected community.
Our community continues to host many popular events such as the Highland Games, Spirit of Okotoks Parade, the Taste of Okotoks, and we were also a host community for the inaugural Tour of Alberta Pro-Cycling Tour in 2013.
Several major projects in 2013 positively impacted our community. These included the opening of the Southridge Emergency Services building; the Centre Avenue utility update project to replace aging infrastructure; the continuation of construction of the Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House and the introduction of 240L blue curbside recycling carts. Other highlights include the introduction of the Cut ‘n’ Call branch collection program and electronic waste accepted at the Recycling Centre, and surface upgrades to Cimarron Park playground to make it safer and wheelchair accessible.
Commercial business activity remains strong, and Okotoks continues to be a major economic hub. With growing retail and industrial areas, Okotoks is generating local employment and diversifying the tax base. The May 2013 census indicated Okotoks’ population is now 26,319 (5.4% growth). This strong growth has brought additional services and amenities while creating some challenges to keeping up with growth demands. Council is committed to maintaining Okotoks’ well-planned, safe, friendly neighbourhoods, as well as enhancing a robust and diverse business community. Sincerely, Mayor Bill Robertson on behalf of Town Council
Manage Community Growth
Okotoks will continue to be a recognized leader in building a sustainable community, including its social, environmental and economic viability. The focus will remain on sustainable growth that is reliant on securing adequate water supply to meet our community’s needs.
In 2013 Town Council initiated a proposed annexation of a 60-year land supply to accommodate residential, commercial and industrial long-term growth needs. The Town is seeking 33 quarter sections of land to be annexed. Okotoks has completed a comprehensive Growth Study based on projected long term growth and started the annexation process with landowners and the MD of Foothills. Principles that will guide the plan for growth include prioritizing locations, ensuring proper infrastructure is in place, and retaining a compact, connected and integrated community that builds on the existing major road network. Annexation also requires landowner and public consultation. The public consultation plan includes at least three public open houses as well as meeting with affected landowners; the first of these was held in December 2013. Annexation allows the Town to meet its projected growth needs and to comprehensively plan for the orderly and economical development of lands. It is necessary to help the Town strengthen its tax base, expand opportunities for business development, and have a balanced mixture of land uses. This will ensure that Okotoks remains sustainable in the delivery of services to its residents and businesses.
2013 community report
Water Management Strategies
Several key strategies and actions are ongoing to deal with our long-term water issues: • Town Council decided to pursue the development of a regional water system via Calgary to meet future growth needs. Administration will continue to work closely with the Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary in 2014 to establish agreements that outline responsibilities of each party, funding and timelines to secure water for future growth. • Development of a regional water pipeline is a multiyear process; therefore continuation of short-term water capacity solutions is necessary to accommodate growth over 30,000 people. Okotoks population is currently approaching 27,000 and a typical year welcomes over 1,000 residents. • The Town has been successful with interim water solutions such as water license transfers. • Okotoks is proud of our reputation as an environmentally responsible community. We will continue to lobby the Province on new legislation allowing for water conservation methods used in other countries (e.g. use of grey water, water harvesting, etc).
Nurture Economic Vitality
A continued focus on enhancing the local economy by attracting light industrial businesses will help diversify the property assessment base and create additional quality local employment opportunities here at home.
In 2013, there were 338 new business licenses issued for a total of 1,191 businesses at year end. There were 1,736 active businesses; a 3.5% net increase in business development over 2012. Of which, 55% were homebased and 45% storefront/physically located businesses. Approximately 464 jobs were created in Okotoks based on declarations received by business owners on new business license applications. New businesses included oil & gas, supply chain/wholesale, automotive, professional services, manufacturing, offices, household service shops, retail, commercial, real estate, warehouses, industrial service shops, hospitality and dining.
New Business Licenses Issued 2013 338
2011 300 2012 380
Overall construction is valued at about $96 million in 2013. Of that amount, approximately 36% was commercial and industrial construction and 64% was residential. Non-residential assessment represents approximately 14.3% of the total assessment in Okotoks for 2013 which is an increase from last year. In 2013, three more industrial lots were sold in the Okotoks Business Park Expansion near 32 Street and construction is underway on several new industrial buildings there. In the last three years the Town has focused on promoting the expansion of the Okotoks Business Park industrial lots which has resulted in $6 million in industrial land sales. The Okotoks Business Park is approaching 50% sold out which will result in more job creation and assessment expansion.
Total Businesses in Town 2011 2012 2013
Several new retail businesses were welcomed this past year in all areas of the community; some utilizing existing buildings. In 2013, much of the groundwork was completed for new businesses planning to open in 2014 including: Best Western Hotel, Good Life Fitness, Oshkosh/ Carters, Sport Chek, The Dollar Tree, PetSmart and more.
Partnerships & Projects
The results of the inaugural Okotoks Business Satisfaction Survey received 73% approval (Good to Excellent rating by businesses) as a place to operate a business. New streamlined approval processes were identified and implemented in 2013 for new business startups and a new interactive business license form was created.
2013 community report
The Calgary Region Economic Partnership (CREP) is a collaborative undertaking that Okotoks and others in the Calgary region participate in. Some projects in 2013 included attendance at Trade Shows in the US and Canada to promote the area within the Transportation & Logistics Sector in particular and efforts to develop a sustainable tourism strategy for tourism product development.
Southridge Emergency Services building
Rich’s Playground expansion
Provide Quality Community Infrastructure The rapidly growing population is placing demands on our infrastructure and facilities, resulting in a need for substantial upgrades.
Southridge Emergency Services Building
Okotoks RCMP and Municipal Enforcement, who provide emergency services for Okotoks and surrounding areas, are getting settled into their new space. The Southridge Emergency Services building, which opened in September 2013, also has a designated area for fire fighters and their equipment. This building was designed to be the Town’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certified structure.
Street and Road Maintenance
Ongoing maintenance includes: asphalt, traffic signs, pathways, streets & sidewalks; snow clearing routes; lane, boulevard & street cleaning; line & crosswalk painting, crack filling and pothole patching.
Rich’s Playground at Sheep River Park 2013 saw the expansion and upgrades to Rich’s Playground, which was originally constructed in memory of Rich McNab by Colt Engineering. The upgrades included the addition of a second main play structure and several stand-alone components designed to increase both the capacity and diversity of the play structure. Cimarron Park Rubber Safety Surfacing Okotoks received a $25,000 grant from the Alberta Recycling Management Authority for the purchase and installation of rubber (poured-in-place) safety surfacing. This upgrade took place at Cimarron Park playground and is the first public playground in Okotoks to receive a rubber surface, which reduces the impact of falls while also making the surface accessible to wheelchairs.
Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House
Construction of the Field House near the junction of Highway 7 and Aldersyde is well underway. The facility will offer 4 indoor playing fields, a multi-purpose space and a running track. It will be able to accommodate a large number of activities including indoor soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, tennis, basketball, and more. Construction is expected to finish in late summer of 2014. Many trades people were required for 2013 flood rebuilding, which caused delays in the project.
Centre Avenue Utility Upgrade Project
Replacement of aging and installation of new water utility infrastructure was completed in the fall of 2013. The project occurred along Centre Avenue between Daggett Street and Milligan Drive. While the work mainly focused on utility replacement and installation, the project also included re-paving of deteriorating road surfaces, repair of damaged sidewalks and concrete curbs, and landscaping.
Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House
The 2013 flood removed over 1.2 kilometres of the Okotoks pathway system, destroyed Spoilers Field ball diamond, significantly damaged the Lion’s Campground, and greatly impacted Okotoks’ most cherished park— Sheep River Park. Rehabilitation works will continue in 2014 to gain back pathway and park space. Water Well #1 also sustained major flood damage and had to be rebuilt.
Storm and Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Program
Video assessment work was conducted on several kilometers of sanitary and storm sewer mains throughout the Town to assess the current condition. Information gathered will assist in more accurate planning and scheduling of future lifecycle repairs and replacement of important infrastructure.
Centre Avenue Utility Upgrade Project
2013 community report
New 240L Curb It Recycling Cart
Promote Environmental Stewardship The Town of Okotoks will continue to be a recognized leader in environmental stewardship.
Through wise use of water and conservation techniques, the residents of Okotoks continue to be successful in maintaining one of the lowest per capita water usages in Canada, averaging 273L/capita/day (lcpd)—that is 112 lcpd less than the national average! Residential consumption itself was an incredible 177 lcpd (52 lcpd less than the national average), which speaks to how well the citizens of Okotoks have embraced water conservation and have saved money by reducing non-essential use. The $50,000 Outdoor Water Conservation Rebate Program sold out once again in 2013. Additionally, we are seeing an increase in the use of low-flow fixtures and toilets, purchasing of water efficient washing machines, mulch and rain barrels, etc.
Okotoks continues to be a leader in environmental sustainability. Residents are reducing the amount of total waste sent to the landfill by recycling more, whether that be through self-hauling to the Recycling Centre & bins at WalMart or using the curbside collection program.
Curb It Program
Curb It, the Town’s curbside recycling service, now has over 3,800 subscribers, and the program has processed approximately 700 tonnes of recyclables this year. This program has seen a 40% increase in subscribers over 2012!
Cut ‘n’ Call Program
In 2013, Cut ‘n’ Call, the yard waste collection service, collected 1,083 bags of yard waste. This 21% increase in bag collection over 2012 is equivalent to 13 tonnes diverted from the landfill. Additionally, 800 tonnes of organics have been diverted through the grass and leaves drop-off area at the Recycling Centre. The Branch Collection Program was also introduced in mid 2013.
The Town began accepting electronics at the Recycling Centre in late 2013. The first few months of the program have been extremely successful, diverting approximately 16 tonnes of e-waste from October to the end of the year. okotoks.ca
Provide Strong Governance
Sound municipal governance includes open communication with residents and a commitment to enhancing inter-municipal and inter-governmental working relationships.
Public Input & Communication
Public open houses, workshops and online surveys were held throughout the year to provide information and seek feedback on current issues. Examples include: 2013 flood, Annexation, Culture Programming (RPAC), Southside Community Services Program Facility, Business Satisfaction survey, Downtown Parking, Dog Park, and Water & Sewer Main Replacement. The annual Household Survey was also completed with a total of 3,366 respondents completing the survey and 99% ranking their overall quality of life as good or very good. The selection of elected officials was also an opportunity for public input. 2013 offered 2 voting locations with a total of 4,619 residents voting.
Council Boards & Committees
Over 70 citizens serve on 11 Committees of Council. These dedicated people generously volunteer their time to provide input to Council on topics concerning our community, such as planning, finance, economic development, recreation and culture, policing, family and community support, the library and the Sheep River Valley. If you are interested in joining a committee or want to view meeting agenda packages, please visit okotoks.ca.
Use of social media grew with Town Facebook and Twitter profiles continuing to garner a steady following. Our Facebook page has nearly 2,000 likes (users) and Twitter has over 3,000 followers. These were key tools used to communicate with residents and the media during the 2013 flood. To join the conversation visit okotoks.ca. Town and Business e-newsletters continue to be popular, with over 600 subscribers to the general Town e-newsletter and over 900 to the business e-newsletter (Okotoks Venture). To subscribe visit okotoks.ca. In 2013, the Townâ€™s website saw a steady increase in trafficâ€”over 455,500 visitors, nearly 1 million page views, and over a third of visits coming from mobile devices. The online Drop-In Recreation Schedule is a popular new feature on the website, with 20,940 page views in its first 4 months.
2013 community report
Off-leash Dog Park
Rotary Performing Arts Centre
Fiscal Management Financial Management Principles
Key principles underlying the Town’s long term financial sustainability include: • Strategic financing of new capital requirements (i.e. maximum half lifecycle debenture financing, developer/user contributions, grant funding, reserves) • Annual contributions to reserves for replacement of current infrastructure
Okotoks Public Library
Where the Money Comes From 2013 Budget - $42.722M $4.555M
Taxes & Franchise Fees
Sales & User Fees
$12.279M Own Sources
• User pay approach to provision of utilities (water, sewer, stormwater, garbage and recycling) • User fees for recreational services that target 65% cost recovery Okotoks’ tax rates are lower than almost all municipalities in Alberta between the populations of 10,000 and 100,000, as confirmed in the annual financial indicator graphs prepared by Municipal Affairs (both residential and non-residential).
In 2013 the owner of a typical residential property paid $1,846 annually for property taxes.
Grants & Other Revenues
Where the Money Goes 2013 Budget - $42.722M $6.682M
Public Works &Transportation
Water & Sewer
Debt Payments Engineering & Planning Resource Recovery Community Support
Recreation & Culture
$2.232M $1.454M $0.648M
*Administration includes eight (8) business centres
What You Receive for your Tax Dollars • 24-hour RCMP/Municipal Enforcement and Fire Services (includes 911 & Fire dispatch) • 51 kms of pathways, of which 33 km are interconnected and cleared of snow • Year-round street cleaning and winter snow removal on priority roads • A transportation system with 153 kms of roadways, street lights, traffic controls, 2 bridges and a railway overpass • 96 parks • 48 playgrounds • 14 ball diamonds • 2 football/rugby fields • 15 soccer pitches • Outdoor fitness trail/park • BMX track • 5 tennis courts • 8 outdoor skating rinks and 4 toboggan hills
Rate Supported Services
The following services are not supported through taxes: • Water & Sewer services • Stormwater utility • Weekly garbage collection • Recycling Centre • Curb It & Cut ‘n’ Call programs
2013 community report
• Recreation Centre with 2 arenas, 6 curling sheets, 6-lane competitive swimming pool, family leisure pool, 40-person hot tub, fitness area, gymnasium and youth centre • 1500-seat Pason Centennial Arena (multi-use, year round facility with a walking track) • 2700-seat Seaman Stadium • Skateboard park • Water spray park • Off-leash dog park (15 hectares) • Wildlife reserve/bird sanctuary • 210 hectares of naturalized areas (including Sheep River Valley) • Art Gallery at the Station, Okotoks Museum & Archives and the Rotary Performing Arts Centre • Okotoks Public Library • Foothills Centennial Centre • Cemetery
Property taxes levied by the Town include amounts collected on behalf of other organizations and comprise roughly 39% of the total property tax bill: • Alberta School Foundation Fund • Okotoks Public Library Board • Foothills Foundation
Okotoks Fire Services
Okotoks Municipal Enforcement
Facilitate a Healthy and Safe Community A holistic approach to maintaining a healthy and safe community that enhances our quality of life, including facilitating community connectivity, nurturing partnerships to provide social services to those in need and providing services that maintain public safety and security.
Peace Officers generally spend about 75% of their time maintaining a safe community (i.e. enforcing speed limits, community security patrols, monitoring school zones), with the remainder spent handling provincial statute/bylaw complaints, school programs and public education. Peace Officers responded to over 1,600 calls for service in 2013 and issued over 4,100 tickets. Okotoks Municipal Enforcement, in partnership with the RCMP, continues to work towards a safer community. An initiative that continues to support this is the Mount Royal University practicum—5 students volunteered 1500 hours to patrolling the Sheep River Valley and community parks. In 2013, the Okotoks RCMP responded to approximately 9,300 calls for service and issued a total of 1,630 traffic tickets. The RCMP also completed a successful Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) pilot project. The CRU team will return in 2014 to focus on priority issues including drug trafficking and liquor matters.
Peace Officer and RCMP public education initiatives continue with presentations on topics such as: DARE (Drug & Alcohol Resistance Education), Anti-Bullying, Internet Safety, Crosswalk Safety, Block Watch, Anti-Graffiti and Animal Safety.
Okotoks Fire Services is comprised of 17 full time firefighters, 32 community firefighters, and 2 support staff who provide fire and rescue services in Okotoks and surrounding area. In 2013, Fire Services responded to a record 963 calls: • Medical Assistance 513 (53.3%) • Fire/Alarm Activation 190 (19.7%) • Rescues/Other Responses 144 (15%) • Motor Vehicle Collisions 116 (12%) Other activities included monthly car seat clinics, fire prevention and education programs, business inspections, and participating in numerous community events including Light Up Okotoks and the Christmas Eve Parade.
The annual mock disaster exercise and reception centre training was completed in May. Skills were put into action in June when a heavy rainfall event resulted in flooding of the Sheep River Valley area. The flood crisis of June 2013 was challenging for Okotoks staff; however they were able to respond effectively to all requests for assistance and also provide support to neighbouring municipalities. The Okotoks Recreation Centre also hosted nearly 180 evacuees (largely from High River) for 19 days. Reception Centre services included providing safety, food and shelter for evacuees for the duration of their stay. During the flood, 950 volunteer shifts were required to ensure that the Reception Centre operated properly and that people accessing it got everything that they needed. Social media, Town website and the Alberta Emergency Alert System were used to provide critical information about the flood and what action residents need to take. To subscribe to emergency alerts visit okotoks.ca.
Safety Codes Services provided 4,600+ building inspections, in accordance with Albertaâ€™s Safety Codes Quality Management Plan standards, to ensure safe residential, commercial and industrial construction standards are maintained. 2013 construction is valued at about $96 million. Approximately 36% was commercial and industrial, and the remaining 64% was primarily residential. 215 single family dwellings were built this year.
2013 community report
Okotoks Art Gallery
Culture & Heritage
Museum and Archives (OMA) In 2013 OMA, an accredited museum, set new attendance records with a total of 6,148 visitors, including a recording-setting 755 visitors in December. The museum developed 15 temporary exhibits, accepted 196 artifact item donations, and 1,700 archival photo and document donations. Rotary Performing Arts Centre (RPAC) 82 events were hosted at RPAC in 2013. Events offered included concerts (Ian Tyson, Tom Jackson, Mount Royal University Conservatory, and The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra), Yuk Yuks comedy and The Dewdney Players. RPAC also moved to an online ticketing system for events, increasing accessibility and convenience to the public. Fundraising Cultural and Historical Services raised $42K through stakeholder groups and granting organizations in 2013.
First Saturdays Festival
Special Events In 2013, over 8,000 people attended 17 special cultural events hosted over 10 days. Those included the Childrenâ€™s Festival, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, First Saturdays and a three-day Alberta Culture Days celebration.
Facilitate a Healthy and Safe Community Community Programs and Services
1,100 community programs that contribute to resident quality of life were offered in 2013. Of those, 54 were new. Overall, there was a 93% satisfaction rate. Over 6,000 individuals registered in swimming lessons—an increase of 6% over 2012. With an additional 2,671 students in school lessons, there were over 8,700 total swim lesson participants! The Okotoks Grade 5 Gets Active program, which provides affordable access to the Rec Centre and other program opportunities, continues to be very popular with close to 300 grade 5’s participating. The KinderCare babysitting service, available to patrons at the Okotoks Recreation Centre, provided 4,968 hours of quality care, a 29% increase over 2012. The Okotoks Youth Centre (OYC) is a facility for youth ages 12 to 18 that provides a safe place for teens to visit and hang out. Over 1,941 youth spent time in the Youth Centre in 2013. The Okotoks School Age Care (OSAC) program operates out of the Recreation Centre and provided care for 50 elementary-aged students from Percy Pegler, Dr. Morris Gibson and Good Shepherd schools. OSAC is an accredited program, which recognizes excellence in the child care field.
Work started on the modification to the Southside Community Programs area (adjacent to Pason Centennial Arena). This new Town-owned and operated facility will offer recreational opportunities on the south side and is anticipated to open in September 2014. Recreation Tidbits from 2013: • 60,222 lane/hours were rented or programmed at the Aquatics Centre. • 4,300 facility passes were sold in 2013, a 35% increase over 2012. • The total hours of rented Arena time: 10,035 (a 9% increase over 2012). • 87% of registered community program users were from either Okotoks or the MD of Foothills. • 40% of registrations are processed online using netreg.okotoks.ca.
In 2013 there were 14 Town-organized events and another 6 community-partnered events, which generate economic activity and boost community spirit. It was a successful year, with these 20 events experiencing an overall increase of 35% in attendance. Two new events were offered in 2013—the Tour of Alberta in September, which had over 5,000 people in attendance and the Taste of Okotoks in August, which had over 8,000.
2013 Hall of Fame Inductees
Okotoks Hall of Fame
A new tradition of celebrating the accomplishments of Okotoks athletes, and people in the areas of arts, culture and community service began in 2013. The Town, along with the Culture, Parks & Recreation Committee, inducted the following outstanding residents in its inaugural year: • Bill ‘Cowboy’ Flett – Sports: Athlete • Brad Banister – Sports: Community Builder • Ray Watrin – Sports: Athlete & Community Builder • Tracie Ward – Arts & Culture: Community Builder
Family & Community Support Services (FCSS)
Community Funds $283,000 was distributed by FCSS to support life skills programs and not-for-profit organizations in 2013, including support for Town programs, the Youth Centre, community special events and out-of-school activities. The United Way Committee raised awareness and funds during its October campaign, resulting in $94,804 in grant funding to 12 Okotoks agencies. An additional $50,000 was also allocated to agencies affected by the June flooding through a supplement from United Way Calgary. Transportation Support FCSS supports the Community Access Program, allowing seniors and disabled residents to remain active through subsidized taxi service. In 2013 this program offered 6,474 taxi trips to residents at a reduced cost.
Okotoks continues to be a generous, caring community with hundreds of registered volunteers. There was an incredible outpouring of additional time and talent from our community during the June 2013 floods. An extra 1500 people offered to help in every way possible around town and at the reception centre.
2013 community report
Okotoks Healthy Family Resource Centre (OHFRC)
Staff at OHFRC link residents up with available resources and social services, make referrals, assist with applications and provide problem-solving assistance. In 2013, OHFRC handled over 2,700 inquiries providing help to families with limited means through a variety of programs. Some 2013 highlights from OHFRC include: • The Volunteer Driver program saw an increase in requests again this year, with drives to medical appointments up nearly 53% from 2012. Nineteen dedicated volunteer drivers made 301 round trips for 30 grateful clients—totalling nearly 15,450 km and 994 hours! • The Recreation Fee Assistance program has seen significant growth. In 2013, the program provided over $23,000 in subsidies to 199 registered residents. • The Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, with 42 clients, has seen a 45% increase in people served over 2012. • The Holiday Helper Program raised over $33,500 in funds to assist over 65 families during the Christmas season. • Almost 500 people attended the annual Teddy Bear Picnic Resource Fair. Please see ohfrc.org for more information.
Drake Landing Solar Community
Cultural & Historical Services Team with a Leadership Award from the Alberta Museum Association
Maintain Organizational Excellence The high quality of services that are delivered to our residents are a direct result of the efforts of the employees of the Town of Okotoks. Building organizational capacity and maintaining a quality work environment ensures that the Town continues to attract and retain highly skilled employees.
Drake Landing Solar Community Achieves New World Record!
The Drake Landing Solar Community reached a new world record, providing 98% of the 52 homes’ space heating needs with solar thermal energy! The Drake Landing Company was recognized by Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, for receiving the International Energy Agency’s Solar Heating and Cooling (SHC) Award. The SHC recognizes leaders who have significant achievements in solar thermal market development, reduce market barriers, and demonstrate large-scale projects. The innovative Drake Landing Solar Community represents the sustainable vision of Okotoks—achieving substantial energy and greenhouse gas reductions while providing an innovative and environmentally friendly housing option for our residents. The Town of Okotoks works in partnership with Natural Resources Canada, Sterling Homes, United Communities and ATCO Gas on this unique solar energy demonstration project.
The Town won a Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) National Award of Excellence in the Government Relations category for the My Okotoks – Water & Growth Public Consultation project. The project was an extensive consultation and education process that was designed to inform residents of the water and growth options and to gather feedback from citizens. The CPRS awards recognize outstanding public relations programs and projects from across the country. The Town also received a Golden Quill Merit Award from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in the Government Communications Programs category for the My Okotoks – Water & Growth Public Consultation project. The IABC Golden Quill Awards recognize excellence in strategic communications worldwide.
Municipal Benchmarking Initiative
In 2013, as part of a regional collaboration program with 13 other mid-sized urban communities in Alberta, Okotoks embarked on a municipal services benchmarking initiative. This was the first phase of an anticipated two-phase project that analysed service delivery areas. The nine areas Okotoks participated in were: drinking water supply, waste water disposal, snow and ice management, fire prevention and mitigation, policing, parks provision and maintenance, recreation programs and facility bookings and maintenance, roadway operations and maintenance, and residential solid waste management. The initiative involves the collection of service level data, cost data and applicable overhead costs for each area. The data was analyzed using four performance measures: • Volumetrics • Efficiency Measures • Effectiveness Measures • Quality Standards This initiative will help Okotoks maintain best practice, efficiency and effectiveness. A report on the findings of phase one (2009-2012) is expected in April 2014.
Communities ChooseWell Award
The Town was presented with a Communities Choosewell Award, recognizing us for reducing barriers to healthy living. The programs and activities that address these issues include facility pass promotions such as the 21 Days of Christmas, 99 Days of Summer, and Fall Fitness promotion: Three for Free, the Grade 5’s Get Active program and Friday Teen Night.
Alberta Museums Association (AMA) Leadership Award
The Okotoks Museum and Archives (OMA) won a Leadership Award from the Alberta Museums Association (AMA) for its work in Education. The AMA Leadership Awards recognize outstanding museums for the exceptional work and innovative thinking in the museum community that contribute to the social, cultural, and educational fabric of Alberta.
The Town won an Economic Developers Association of Alberta award for the 2012 Okotoks Visitor Guide. The Guide features information on amenities, services and activities in the Okotoks area, which is widely distributed throughout the region.
2013 community report
Water and Growth
Okotoks has taken a unique approach to community development through its recognition of the importance of sustainability and supporting the natural environment. Sustainability is a holistic practice, incorporating a diversity of environmental, economic and social initiatives.
In September 2013, due to increased population and growth pressures in the region, Town Council approved a shift in Okotoks future growth direction and adopted a proposed 60-year continued growth model as compared to the past “limited growth model” of the Legacy Plan. In November 2013, Town Council decided to pursue the development of a regional water system, via the City of Calgary, to meet future growth needs.
As Okotoks continues to grow, sustainability will continue to be as important as ever as we move into this new chapter. We will strive to nurture and build on the sustainable practices that are important to future generations. We hope you will join us in renewing and strengthening this commitment to the legacy this community has established.
Comprehensive management of a municipality’s water supply is fundamental to the sustainability and resiliency of a community. A regional water system will provide the Town with a secure, long-term, supplementary, potable water supply. It is essential that Okotoks continues to manage all of its water sources in an environmentally, ethically and fiscally responsible way. The Okotoks Water Management Plan will be revised in 2014 as the Okotoks Water Conservation, Efficiency and Productivity (CEP) Plan. The revised Plan will take into account the Town’s new long-term growth model and tentative long-term potable water supply through a regional water system.
Water Rebate Program
To further incent wise water use, the Town offers an annual Water Conservation Rebate Program. In 2013, $50,000 was available, resulting in 430 household participants purchasing 680 water conservation items. Purchases included 313 orders of organic and inorganic mulch, 187 low-flow toilets, 87 rain barrels, 54 Energy Star® clothes washers, 22 ‘smart’ irrigation controllers, and 17 orders of drought tolerant ground cover/turf.
Conservation Education Program
In 2013, this program employed 4 summer students who provided in-person waste reduction, water and energy conservation information by visiting approximately 1,000 households. They also did presentations to hundreds of children via Town summer day camps.
The Corporate Environmental Stewardship Plan is a strategic document created by the Town of Okotoks to maintain leadership in environmental stewardship and reduction of corporate environmental footprint. Since 2010, the Town has either maintained or reduced its annual consumption of natural gas, electricity and water despite higher facility use. The Town’s solar systems (solar photovoltaic and thermal) continue to contribute to the overall reduction in facility greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Town is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, which includes examining the source, efficiency and productivity (end-use) of the energy we procure and consume. Through purchasing Renewable Energy Credits equivalent to 80% green power, the Town has achieved an annual reduction of over 8,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, which is similar to taking 1,600 cars off the road or planting over 215,000 trees. As of January 1, 2014, the Town will be procuring Renewable Energy Credits (for green energy) to offset 100% of the Town’s annual energy consumption.
Storm water treatment ponds protect and minimize the negative impact of storm water run-off on the Sheep River’s water quality. The Town’s practices are designed to reduce the amount of silt and salt contaminants entering the environment by year-round street sweeping and silt guard devices on catch basin grates and reducing salt during winter sanding operations. Example of green energy
2013 community report
Planning for the Future 2014 Budget
The 2014 Capital Budget of $8.477 million provides for new infrastructure and facilities including: • Upgrading the water and wastewater treatment plants and the Operations Centre • Skateboard Park improvements • An additional outdoor rink (Cimarron) • A southside community garden located in Westridge • Equipment and fleet replacements photo courtesy of the Western Wheel
The 2014 Operating Budget considers the growth in service demands resulting from additional roads and pathways, new playing fields and streetlights, increased use of recreation facilities, increased residential and commercial customers, and extraordinary inflationary pressures in new facility operating costs, utilities and protective services. A 4.3% municipal tax increase will occur. The owner of a typical home will pay approximately $79 per year ($6.58 per month) in municipal taxes. The budget also includes an increase in the differential tax for non-residential properties from 33% to 38%. Water and sewer rates will also increase in 2014. A 3.5% increase, amounting to $3 per billing period or $18 per year. The water utility rate structure continues to be based 20% on a fixed fee and 80% consumption.
Highlights of the 2014 Operating Budget include: • Enhanced Policing Services with RCMP at a full complement of 19 members, and an additional Officer for the Crime Reduction Unit (CRU) in April 2014 • Full year operation of the Southridge Emergency Services facility • Enhanced recreational opportunities with the opening of the Foothills-Okotoks Regional Field House in July 2014 • Initial contribution of approximately $66K to the MD of Foothills for the operation of the Scott Seaman Sports Rink in Heritage Point to enhance recreational opportunities • Enhanced Economic Development Services • Additional Community Programs Centre to open in the fall of 2014 in south Okotoks • Continued provision of wheelchair accessible transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities through the Town’s subsidized taxi program • Expansion of the Curb It blue cart option to address recycling capacity needs • New development providing a 10% growth in the number of trees, manicured open spaces and play fields • Major operating projects total $5.583 million for lifecycle maintenance and infrastructure replacements, with the largest projects being 2013 flood remediation
Initiatives • • • • • • • •
• • • • • • • •
Progression of annexation process Flood remediation Sandstone Park path repaving Ball diamond upgrades Waller lands (NW) restoration Accessibility enhancement to Riley Minue Pool Polystyrene (styrofoam) compactor purchase Property modelling using innovative software to assist the mass appraisal process for Okotoks markets Fleet and indoor facilities equipment replacements Operations Centre buildings upgrades Modernization of the water and wastewater treatments plants Road surface improvements New South Side Community Programs Centre Website re-design Further implementation of electronic forms/ applications Implementation of the Future Energy Procurement Strategy for the Town’s energy needs. This will result in approximately 34% year-over-year savings on the direct commodity cost for power and natural gas Continued improving of energy efficiency program with the purchase of LED lighting and ensuring solar systems are utilizing design potential
We look forward to another successful year of accomplishments in 2014.
2013 community report
Town of Okotoks
Community Report Town of Okotoks PO Box 20, Station Main 5 Elizabeth Street Okotoks, AB T1S 1K1