The town is cautiously optimistic it will experience modest growth in 2018, despite the financial downturn impacting the Calgary region housing market.
The town saw a slowdown in the number of residential development applications in the latter part of 2018 and has received an indication developer will instead be focusing on existing inventories in 2019.
"There are some developers who are saying, 'OK, we're are not going to do the servicing of certain subdivisions because we're going to focus on the inventory that we've got'," says Drew Hyndman, Cochrane's senior manager of the development services, "So we've heard some developers being much more caution than they have been in the past with respect to 2019 because I believe 2018 was a difficult year for the building industry."
Still, Hyndman says the town can look forward to both Precedence in Riversong and the Rivercrest developments, both adjacent to River Heights Drive, to start to come onstream. The Precedence development is ahead of Rivercrest and it won't be that long before a few showhomes will appear on its horizon.
Cochrane seems to have been somewhat insulated so far from the stormy economic conditions in the region and whether that will continue is to be seen. Hyndman says they are aware of what's happening elsewhere and of the potential implication it will have upon the town.
"I think we're cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see growth. I think it will be modest growth. The financial realities affecting the housing market in the Calgary region will likely impact Cochrane as well, so we do have to take that into consideration."
The town did experience more industrial/commercial projects come on stream towards the end of the year creating some opportunities for further nonresidential growth in 2019. That includes a $10,5 million GMC dealership on West Side Drive at the former location of Smittys that was demolished this fall. Just down the street, a 7-11 convenience store/gas bar is well underway. River Heights commercial developments are also shaping up and development will continue in The Quarry shopping district. There are also two commercial developments underway in the Griffin Industrial Point
The town is anticipating a land-use application for Greystone, which after an extensive public hearing received approval for both its area structure plan and neighbourhood plan by town council last fall.
Hyndman doesn't anticipate his department will be dealing with a significant number of land-use applications this year but of interest to residents will be a decision on Sunset stage 3 that includes secondary access for the large residential area.
"There has been quite a bit of land-use granted by council over the last few years and, I think, the development industry will proceed with applications, dependant upon that market."
Building Permits Drop 39% in 2018 SEE MORE
Annexation Expected to be Completed July 1
By July 1, the town anticipates the finalization of the annexation of two parcels of land. While an insignificant amount of land, about 200 acres in total, the implications are significant for Cochrane. The strip north of the Sunset neighbourhood is all about improving access and the quarter-section adjacent to Heritage Hills will allow for the development of Cochrane's next high school plus a vast amount of outdoor recreational amenities. Of the 158-acres, Rocky View Schools (RVS) requires 25 to 30 acres.
"When you start to look at that quarter section, the opportunities for the recreational amenities on that property are pretty significant. It may be a longer-term project to get everything up and running but the potential is very exciting."
He says it will complement Cochrane's existing open space network, pathways and the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
Following annexation, the town will be developing the concept and completing an agreement with Rocky View Schools, who owns the land, before acquiring the property. The town has budgeted $1.4 million to purchase the land.