Plan is expected to provide more housing diversity, increase tourism options
A plan approved by Rocky View County late last year to rebuild Bragg Creek after the 2013 flood will also lift a 20-year building ban on the community and is expected to transform the hamlet from a through-point to Kananaskis with a mature population into a vibrant business community with young residents.
Long favoured by day-trippers, Bragg Creek has seen little change in decades due to the lack of water and wastewater infrastructure to support new residents. Under the new plan, the hamlet will encourage flood-resilient design, including homes raised on piles, roadways with permeable surfaces, and rustic themed landscaping that conceals structural dykes.
“The Hamlet of Bragg Creek is envisioned to be a vibrant commercial core that attracts residents and visitors, a thriving residential community, and a country atmosphere that is in harmony with the natural environment,” said Amy Zaluski, acting policy supervisor in the planning department at Rocky View County.
Tourists and day-trippers who last year numbered about 100,000 will have even more reason to visit and linger at a proposed adventure centre, trail orientation point and revamped commercial area. Overnight stays at a proposed inn is also expected to add to tourism revenue.
“Visitors in their 20s and 30s are the ones who really take advantage of the nature-based amenities we offer,” said Margaret Barclay, a Bragg Creek resident and local business owner. “If it’s affordable, they also may choose to live here if they could jump on fat bike from the hamlet and ride out to Wintergreen or go golfing and fishing.
“It is a mecca for outdoor opportunities.”
The plan, which covers more than 250 hectares, will also expand the variety of housing offerings. The majority of current homes are acreages more than 20 years old – ranging from character homes and log cabins to luxury models on sprawling forested lots.
Proposed is a strategy to densify and subdivide acreages for infill construction of new homes, plus a master-planned streetscape on an undeveloped expansion parcel of land along Highway 22 that would put clusters of mountain cottage-themed homes within a family-friendly price range for new full-time occupants. A seniors’ residence is also proposed a few steps from commercial shops.
Multi-family units in the form of townhomes, attached duplexes, row homes and live-work lofts are also part of a master plan to densify and offer affordable choice.
As part of the new plan, the population of 454 residents today is expected to double to about 1,000 in 15 years.
“This is an absolute thumbs up,” Barclay said of the plan. “This is a beautiful place to live that will become more attractive to many young sporty individuals who love the lifestyle of the community.
“It’s a very bright future and we are now in a place that allows development to catapult Bragg Creek into this entirely beautiful, vibrant successful hamlet.”
Barclay, who for 20 years has operated Crabapple Cottage clothing store in the Old West Mall in Bragg Creek, said home ownership in Bragg Creek is currently in the hands of mostly over-50-year-olds, while young homebuyers are shut out of the market due to a lack of variety outside of acreage properties.
“People don’t ever really leave. And you are lucky if you can get anything for $700,000,” she said. “There’s very little housing variety in the hamlet.”
The Rocky View County plan came after the floods in 2013, which devastated much of Bragg Creek. The county first sought out public feedback on how to rebuild the town. That, when combined with new securing infrastructure funding from the province, eventually made a comprehensive urban plan viable, said Zaluski.
The plan will cover an area that borders the Tsuu T’ina Reserve on the east, and Kananaskis Country on the west. Provincially owned lands will be on the north border, while the MD of Foothills will be located to the south.