Rural growth on the horizon
Foothills: MD expects to see more development in coming years
Wednesday, Feb 15, 2017 06:00 am
There were no surprises in the 2016 federal census as far as the MD of Foothills is concerned.
The census results, released on Feb. 8, reported a population in the MD of 22,766 people, up 7.1 per cent from the 2011 population of 21,248.
CAO Harry Riva-Cambrin said while the MD has grown by more than that in the past, the count tracks well with the number of new housing starts the municipality has seen over the past five years.
“Given the times and everything happening, it’s certainly a good sign that we’re still growing,” said Riva-Cambrin.
Although the Village of Longview did not see any change in its population of 307 from 2011 to 2016, there was some fluctuation in some MD of Foothills hamlets.
Blackie’s population saw a decline from 343 to 314 since 2011, while Cayley increased from 265 to 340. Heritage Pointe continued to build out and saw an additional 34 residents, increasing its population from 2,041 to 2,075.
Riva-Cambrin said there was no surprise there.
“Blackie and Cayley, there’s been some new housing in Cayley, which kind of keeps up its numbers, but in Blackie there hasn’t been any housing starts and of course it’s an aging little community,” he said.
Heritage Pointe, meanwhile, has pretty well reached its maximum population as it nears the end of construction in Artesia, he said.
Riva-Cambrin said he expects there will be more growth in the Foothills in coming years. The past two years saw a number of larger developments come forward with public open houses and consultation with the municipality’s planning department.
“They keep working away at planning, but we don’t know if they will make an application or not,” he said.
The developments include the Springs of DeWinton, an approximately 78-home development approved in 2012 that hasn’t seen any movement yet.
There are also proposals at Aldersyde east, another near the Okotoks overpass and one in the north end near the Cross Conservation Area, he said.
“Some of these are sizeable developments sort of on the same scale of Heritage Pointe if they go ahead,” said Riva-Cambrin. “And if they get approval. It’s not a foregone conclusion that council will give them an approval, either.”
He said it’s not shocking so many developers have their eyes on the Foothills. There are a lot of services available, including utilities and recreation, he said.
“The cities and towns are looking at far higher density-type development,” said Riva-Cambrin. “I think there’s still a market for people who want a little bit more elbow room where they live. And there’s just some beautiful settings they’re looking at.”
He said the MD of Foothills has a growth management plan, which identifies the central district, along Highway 2 between High River and the Calgary city limit, as the more preferable area for growth.
“It’s the most likely area where you could actually service with water and sewer and roads,” said Riva-Cambrin. “Many of the other parts of the MD, there’s no access to water, and road and infrastructure would be very expensive.”
MD of Foothills Mayor Larry Spilak said the population increase is inline with what council had expected.
“We don’t foresee any faster growth, and that’s the way we like to have it,” said Spilak.