2000 Planning — Co-winner 2
A Sustainable Okotoks
Unprecedented steps have been taken by the Town of Okotoks, Alberta to ensure its long-term sustainability. The community has devised a sustainable development plan that rests on four guiding principles: environmental stewardship, economic opportunity, social conscience and fiscal responsibility.
In September of 1998, Okotoks became one of the first communities in Canada to recognize its environmental limits to growth were restricted by the carrying capacity of the local watershed. Dependent on the Sheep River for its water, the town faced two possible courses of action. The first course would see a continuation of "growth without limits," where the local infrastructure would exceed local carrying capacity and create the need for a larger, regional infrastructure system. The second course would see the town function within the limits of the watershed's carrying capacity. The community chose the latter, focusing on quality of life and the environment, rather than on quantity of growth and standard practices.
Critical to the success of the Okotoks Sustainable Development Plan was the political will to continue with the programs implemented under its umbrella. The town's council had a good understanding of sustainable development as a viable strategy for its community.
Within the first year (April 1999-2000) of the Water and Waste Education Program there was a one per cent decrease in water consumption. The town estimated a further 30 per cent reduction over 15 years, or a decrease from 450 to 300 litres per day per person.
The town predicted a two per cent reduction in landfill tonnage by April 2000 and a 35 per cent reduction over 15-20 years. In 1997, 800 tons of compostable materials sent to landfill sites were made into 80 tons of compost. In 1999, the collection program collected 1,000 tons of paper, plastic and glass recyclables, a 700 per cent increase over 1992. Recycling revenues increased by two per cent in 1999-2000.
There was an 85 per cent reduction of pesticide and herbicide use on public lands.