With a population of approximately 25,000 residents, Okotoks is best known for its prominent glacial rock deposit. It’s one of the nicest bedroom communities of Calgary with its own rich history. From the historic old town buildings to the thriving artist community, Okotoks is a unique place that knows how to help residents enjoy life to the fullest.
Home ownership in Okotoks has so many benefits, and buyers can select from historic homes or modern new construction homes and everything in between. Buying a home in Okotoks also means embracing environmental responsibility and sustainability in this eco-friendly community. There are few cities that offer the whole package of work and play, but Okotoks tops the list.
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Nestled on the banks of the Sheep River, the town of Okotoks is a picturesque community just south of Calgary. With a population of around 25,000, it is the largest town in all of Alberta. Although its most famous natural landmark is a glacial erratic rock, there’s so much more that this amazing town is known for, including a thriving economy, affordable homes and a nice quality of life.
Historically, the land around Okotoks was occupied by the Blackfoot First Nation, who called the prominent glacial deposit “ohkotok” or “rock.” European traders and trappers frequented the area in the 1800s and set up trading posts in subsequent decades, including one at the current town site in 1874. When the Canadian government opened up the land for homesteading in 1879, settlers swarmed in and changed the area for good. The railroad arrived in 1891 and the official name of Okotoks was chosen in 1897. Flooding has long been a problem for Okotoks residents, with the Sheep River spilling over in 1902, 1915, 1940, 1963 and 2005. The discovery of oil in 1914 transformed the agricultural focus to energy and the city was nicknamed “Heart of the Oilfields.” After WWII, the region experienced economic downturns until the 1970s, when expansion and improvements were implemented, along with a more diverse economic base. Today, Okotoks is a progressive bedroom community to Calgary and is making great strides in providing a quality place for residents, especially its youngest residents.
Okotoks has a robust economy similar to many of the smaller towns in the region. From its early days as an agricultural and lumber hub and then an oil distribution hub, the town now enjoys more diversity. Key industries include manufacturing, high tech and service centers, plus retail, restaurant and commercial growth. Several business parks offer enticing incentives for businesses and the economic development leaders of the town are concentrating on attracting complimentary businesses for their vision. Tourism is increasing thanks to a growing artist community and the Old Towne historic district.
Residents won’t lack for things to see and do in Okotoks, because there is a perfect blend of outdoor recreation, community activities and arts and culture. Start with the golf courses in the area, like River’s Edge Golf Course or Crystal Ridge Golf Club. Outdoor recreation includes camping, fishing, hiking, biking and more. The Old Towne Okotoks features shops, restaurants and galleries all year long, while annual festivals like parades, parties and celebrations draw people from all over.
Sports, fitness and games are central to enjoying life in this town. The Okotoks Recreation Centre includes a gym, curling rink, swimming pool and several arenas. The town also manages several parks, like a skateboard park, outdoor skating arena and several athletic fields. There’s even a BMX bike track for enthusiasts. Sporting events and teams include youth and adult hockey, youth football, baseball, lacrosse, rugby, swimming and dance.
Several neighborhoods comprise the residential and business areas of the town and include Air Ranch, Central Heights, Cimarron, Cornerstone, Crystal Ridge, Downey Ridge, Drake Landing, Hunter’s Glen, Mountainview, Rosemont, Sandstone, Sheep River Ridge, Suntree, Tower Hill, Westmount, Westridge and Woodhaven. The area schools are noted for their exceptional quality and are managed by the Foothills School Division. Several private schools and Catholic schools are also available for Okotoks children. The emphasis on environmental sustainability is a prominent focus throughout the community.
The residents of Okotoks know a good thing when they see it and are focused on preserving the past while stepping boldly forward into the future. From charming historic homes to high tech businesses, Okotoks is a highly desirable place to live.