Town down to year's supply of lots for new homes
Okotoks: New subdivisions still on hold until new water sources found
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 05, 2014 06:00 am
Okotoks has just over a year’s supply of developed land available for new homes unless the Town is able to increase its water supply.
Town council heard last week Okotoks started 2014 with 307 serviced lots to build new single-family homes. The Town is not approving new subdivisions until it can find new water sources.
In recent years the number of housing starts has ranged from 296 in 2010 to 215 last year. At this rate the Town could run out of serviced lots for new homes in just over a year if Okotoks isn’t able to expand its water supply.
Just how quickly the supply of lots fills up depends on a number of factors, said Rob Mueller, Okotoks safety codes officer, said
“It depends on the market and how much inventory is absorbed this year, this will determine whether we have just over a year or two year’s supply,” he said.
Okotoks’ current water licence allocation is enough water to serve a population of about 28,000 people. According to the Town’s 2013 census, Okotoks’ population was 26,319.
Town council decided in the fall to study a water pipeline from Calgary to serve its long-term needs, but it could be several years before a pipeline is built.
Mayor Bill Robertson said the Town is working on several short-term strategies in the meantime.
He said the Town won’t get to a point where it will have to stop construction because of a lack of water.
He said the Town is in discussions to acquire additional water licenses and is considering other options, such as borrowing water licences or getting the Province to provide temporary licences.
As well, developers who facilitate the transfer of a licence to the Town will receive 60 per cent of the amount of water it covers to use for their own projects.
“I’m optimistic things are going to come together here,” said Robertson.
Rob Kunz, sales manager with the Kunz group, an Okotoks homebuilder, said its good news there will still be inventory to meet demand for houses over the short-term, but homebuilders will be forced to play catch up if new lots aren’t brought on stream.
Kunz said Okotoks is an attractive, well-planned community, but be believes outstanding questions over water has made some people question buying a home in town.
“The water issue has been a strain to working to our business plan,” he said. “It’s beyond our control.”
The Kunz Group has eight vacant lots left and five homes under construction in the Cimarron area to keep them going in Okotoks.
Kunz said it’s enough to keep the company going, but they are also looking to build in other communities.
“We need to do something, right, Cimarron is filling up so I need to get into another area,” he said.
Ultimately, he said the economy is still strong and there is a still demand for new homes, compared to the after the recession started over five years ago.
“Having 13 lots today is a lot better than having 13 lots after the crash, that’s for sure,” he said.