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Okotoks to sell affordable housing site to a private developer

The one-acre property could be used to develop market-rate housing or additional affordable housing.
NEWS-Affordable Housing BWC 7965 web
The Town of Okotoks purchased 3.3 acres of land on Sage Way in the D'Arcy development in 2019 for $2.6 million to be set aside for affordable housing.

The Town of Okotoks plans to sell an acre of undeveloped land at the 3.3-acre D'Arcy affordable housing site north of town to a private developer.

The successful purchaser would have the option to build market housing or additional affordable housing units at the site.

The section of land north of Okotoks will also be home to units built in collaboration with the Brenda Stafford Society for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (BSS) and Westwinds Communities (WWC).

Development and sustainability director Jeff Greene said the original development plan was for all the land to be used for the BSS and WWC developments.

"Once we arrived at a layout that worked for them and for the town, that was the piece that was not required for either of those parties," he said.

The northeast portion of the parcel, which borders Willow Crescent, has already had interest from buyers, Greene added.

Although the town would like to use the land sale to recoup some of the costs associated with purchasing the land, Greene said there are still plenty of options for possible developments, all of which are up for consideration.

He explained that sales like this are considered through three lenses – economic, social and environmental.

Selling the acre to a private developer for market rate housing would allow the town to recover some costs, while installing another affordable housing project would meet various social objectives. If a plan was submitted that contained elements such as solar panels or other environmentally minded aspects, that would meet the town’s environmental goals.

"The town will entertain offers to purchase,” Greene said. “We're still certainly interested and open to somebody that is interested in developing an affordable housing product on the site.” 

Consideration of proposals submitted thus far will begin in the next few weeks.

According to the town, WWC, is set to build 52 below-market rental units in two buildings, completed in two phases. These units will provide housing for families, couples, roommates and seniors who are currently on housing wait-lists. A program for youth is also expected to be facilitated through this build.

The first phase of the WWC project will have 20 units, while the second will have 32. The units will be combined in a 52-unit stacked townhouse development.

The BSS is set to build 42 supportive housing units with common spaces and in-house services for women and families affected by domestic violence. The town said the development is based on the service model the BSS uses in Calgary, which has been in place for 25 years.

The property was purchased by the town in 2019 for $2.6 million, with partnering organizations taking on costs for site development, permitting and construction costs for their portions of land.

Construction on the site is expected to begin this fall, pending the securing of funding by BSS and WWC, Greene said, adding that some construction will begin this summer in the form of site servicing and access road development.