The Town, joint-venture partner, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools and project stakeholders Foothills School Division, Bow Valley College, the Okotoks Public Library and Community Futures Highwood, are pleased to share details about the Okotoks Arts and Learning Campus (OALC) project!
In the new library, we are excited about having the ability to meet the needs of Okotoks and surrounding Foothills County. We look forward to the collaborative opportunities that the ALC Campus will provide us with the other project stakeholders, and we are happy to remain as part of Okotoks Downtown where our vision statement to be “The Heart of the Community, the Key to the World” is reinforced.
Due to our limited meeting spaces, prior to Covid-19 we regularly turned away individuals, community groups, and programming partners because we simply do not have the rooms to meet everyone’s conferencing needs. The new library will have its own 80-person adult program room, enlarged children’s play space, dedicated children’s program room, two flex/makerspace rooms equipped with sinks, and two private 2-3 person studying rooms.
According to the Alberta Government’s Best Practices for Alberta Public Libraries (2018), our library currently doesn’t have enough room to house all the print materials that it should have for a community of our size. The larger library will allow us to increase our number of shelving units so we can begin to grow our collection. This, in turn, will provide library patrons with more selection and faster access to items of interest. Especially of interest to us to adding to our Teen Section as we see this as a positive way for us to partner with other ALC stakeholders, Christ the Redeemer and Foothills School Division.
Public Libraries are now commonly known as their community’s 'third place' next to home and workplace/school as our changing social role has library staff focusing not only on books but on fulfilling the community’s human needs. This includes providing space for performances, meetings, children’s activities, art installations, and general public gatherings.
With the announcement of the new facility in late 2018, the Town of Okotoks Library Board started a grassroots fundraising campaign to generate interest and financial support for outfitting the space. In total over $56,000 was raised. They currently are launching phase 1 of a capital campaign with the goal of raising a further $250,000 before the library moves. Information about how you can contribute is available on the library’s website, here.
Each November, the Town of Okotoks Library Board prepares and presents a budget request to Town Council to support the operating costs of the public library for the upcoming year. For 2021, the budget is based on an anticipated 6-month occupancy of our current location (#7 Riverside Dr. West) and 6-months at the new facility (#25 Riverside Dr. West). In total, we asked for $701,256.00 from the Town which represents 6% more than last year’s appropriation. The bulk of this increase is due to higher anticipated building maintenance, insurance, and utility costs*, Covid-19 related expenses, plus one-time fees such as telephone & internet and legal costs associated to moving to a new and expanded space.
*Based on costs provided by Town of Okotoks administration.
The Town of Okotoks fosters a culture of resiliency – where people, businesses, ideas and sense of community thrive. Grounded by the Sheep River valley and supported by thoughtful planning and design, a strong local economic and a vibrant civic culture, Okotoks offers exceptional quality of life at every stage of life. Respect for each other and the natural environment makes Okotoks home. The OALC supports the future growth and evolution of our community in a number of ways.
With key partnerships, Phase 1 of the development is focused on a number of shared commitments. Along with being a cornerstone for the enhancement of economic vitality in the downtown, the OALC will:
• enable opportunities for local access to post-secondary education
• support a flexible and evolving library experience
• form a collaborative hub that links families, high school students and postsecondary learners to formal and informal learning
• create seamless access to resources and supportive networks for businesses and entrepreneurs
In addition to providing vibrant education and learning spaces, the proximity to the pathway system and downtown, the campus invites opportunities for indoor and outdoor community events in the flexible plaza space, future playground, and Ethel Tucker park area. The OALC will be an invaluable asset that will form a vibrant hub for the community, and a cornerstone for education, culture and economic development for current and future generations. To learn more about the OALC click here.
(Town of Okotoks, 2020)
Winter 2020: exterior completed/interior construction begins
Summer 2021: campus interior complete/ready for opening
Fall 2021: existing library building renovations begin
Winter 2021: renovations complete for new Bow Valley College campus
Spring 2022 – opening Ethel Tucker Park and outdoor plaza
Okotoks Arts & Learning Campus Plaza Rendering (Town of Okotoks, 2020)
Okotoks Arts & Learning Campus Renderings (Town of Okotoks, 2020)