Long-time councillor seeks another term
Okotoks: Coun. Ed Sands wants to preserve Sustainable Okotoks principles
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 11, 2013 06:00 am
One of the architects of the Sustainable Okotoks Policy is looking for the chance to ensure the ideals behind it are preserved in growth plans for the community’s future.
Coun. Ed Sands announced he plans to seek re-election to council in the Oct. 21 municipal election. He was first elected to council in 1995 and has served six terms.
“We can ease growth toward a traditional growth model keeping the values we have,” said Coun. Ed Sands. “That to me is an important part of why I want to be back at the table.”
Council lifted the 30,000-population cap last year and he said he wants to see the principles of conservation and sustainability preserved.
“I still think we can continue to engineer a community with a great feel, small town feel with small town values,” he said.
Sands also wants to ensure the Town finds a water source to supply Okotoks’ needs as it grows.
Sands said he supports building a pipeline from the Bow River downstream of Calgary and a new water treatment plant on the north wide of Okotoks. He said the Town could look to partner with the MD of Foothills on a possible water system for the region.
He said water conservation initiatives, including outdoor watering restrictions, should continue even after the Town secures a long-term water supply.
“The water stewardship policies we have in place are not because of a shortage of water supply,” he said. “Its paradigm modification and it’s going to continue no matter what piped water supply we’re into.”
While some have criticized the length of time it has taken to determine a long-term water supply for Okotoks, he said it’s a long, uncertain process that can’t be done quickly.
“It’s slow, but there’s no good precedent for it and we’re the first community that’s really bumped into this,” he said.
Whether the Town gets water from Calgary, the Bow River or the Highwood, he said it will have to pay for it and he believes its okay to be cautious in a water market that is still developing.
As the Town prepares to move ahead with the annexation process, Sands said residents need to consider a candidate’s experience on council.
“I think it will be an asset to have someone with experience on council as we move forward with the annexation,” he said. “The last thing both communities need is new councillors on both sides of the table. It will be important to have some experience as we move forward.”
Sands said he also wants the Town to continue to build Okotoks’ recreation infrastructure.
He wants to get a plan in place to add a second ice rink to the Centennial Arena in the next term.
He said the Town has come a long way in addressing recreation needs with the Foothills-Okotoks Field House and it’s time to do something for local hockey organizations struggling with a lack of space.
He also hopes to have a performing arts facility underway in the next four years.
Finally, Sands said he wants to see “monstrous steps” taken to protect Okotoks from flooding by shoring up the riverbank near the rail tracks west of town. He said it’s something that can be done without having to spend a lot of money.