Okotoks’ very appropriate motto is ‘Historic Past, Sustainable Future’. The Tillotson Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan (NASP) states that Fran Tillotson was a great Okotokian environmentalist and conservationist.
While I’m happy to see provisions made in the NASP for minimal disturbance of the existing forest, to designate it as an environmental reserve, including green spaces and Green Streets, we need to do more than the bare minimum in terms of environmental planning, by always scrutinizing our designs through the lens of climate change, sustainability and resiliency to honour at least the next seven generations.
The City of Calgary mayor and council declared a climate emergency in 2021 and we must absolutely future-proof this and all new developments in Okotoks to avoid costly retrofits later. Every building in the Tillotson NASP should align with the 2050 NetZero global strategy and Okotoks’ Climate Action Plan.
Therefore, I proposed the following nine concepts (already used successfully in other similar jurisdictions around the globe) to Town council on Feb. 27:
1. Site/lot planning to maximize south-facing rooftops on all residential/public/commercial structures and mandating the appropriately sized solar panel array on each of them.
2. The NASP commits to ‘Diverse Housing Options’ which should include homes built to the latest NetZero standards.
3. All public structures/buildings to be designed and built to the latest LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) energy-efficient standards.
4. Include the provision for carports that will use solar panels to provide green power, shade and hail protection, as has been installed at Okotoks Honda; perhaps these shared solar carports could be funded via a community co-op.
5. Mandate that all public outdoor spaces use the latest xeriscaping standards that maximize water conservation.
6. All residential/public/commercial structures to be equipped with water conservation equipment; for example, by pre-installing roof water collection and storage systems for indoor or outdoor use.
7. Any public parking lots to include for-fee EV charging stations.
8. Tight integration with Okotoks public transit and bike path systems to reduce residents’ carbon footprint.
9. Lastly, I would rather see the cemetery expansion space initially be designated as all green space and then be converted in sections if/when needed.
Okotoks has proven to be progressive in the past with the Drake Landing solar community and I think we need to build upon that legacy.