Cochrane is 'a rare gem'

Even while tripling in size in the past two decades, the town maintains its charm and community building is a going concern.

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The town of Cochrane, a growing community 30 minutes west of Calgary, has an undeniable charm and is attracting those looking for a slower, more connected way of life.

“As soon as you hit 12 Mile Coulee Road on your way from Calgary to Cochrane, it’s like ahhhh, you can exhale. I love it out here and I don’t miss Calgary at all,” says Sheena Wade, who moved from Calgary to Cochrane four years ago.

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She says that despite the growth — Cochrane’s population recently crested 35,000, up from just 11,173 in 2000 — this historic town still has that coveted small town feel.

“Everyone is so friendly; you still get that courtesy wave when you are driving and you can always expect lots of conversations at the grocery store,” says Wade.  “Plus, it’s just so accessible to the mountains. I like to get out to Ghost Lake and go kayaking and camping — I bought a camper a few years ago and use it all of the time.”

She also utilizes the town’s outdoor trail and pathway system, is a member of the Spray Lakes Recreation Centre and plays on two local community softball teams.

“Cochrane is just such a desirable place to live, and real estate is only going to go up.”

That’s why she recently purchased a three-bedroom townhome at Vertos by Ocgrow Group of Companies in Cochrane’s new riverside community of Greystone (developed by Burnswest), located just steps from the Bow River. Vertos is a luxury collection of 150, one-level garden homes and two-storey townhomes, some with rooftop patios and single-car attached garages spread across 11 buildings.

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“When you are presented with a really great opportunity, and you have no reason to say no, you just take it,” says Wade, who will be taking possession of her new home in 2025.

The sales manager for Vertos, Kristen Henderson, has been living in Cochrane for 10 years and agrees with Wade. She also moved from Calgary and hasn’t looked back.

“It’s just so safe here. You can walk your dog at night and not feel worried,” she says, adding Vertos has seen a real mix of buyers from singles to investors. “It’s really all about community here in Greystone.”

In fact, she loves the project and the community so much that she’s purchasing a townhome for herself.  

Harish Consul, president and CEO of Ocgrow Group, notes that Cochrane is the No. 1 fastest growing region in western Canada right now. “The town is a rare gem with a world-class quality of life. It really offers an amazing lifestyle for everyone.”

In addition to developing Vertos, Ocgrow Group is tapping into the strapped rental market (Cochrane is sitting at close to zero per cent vacancy rate) and launching Terez, an upscale purpose rental complex, later in 2024.

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But Ocgrow Group isn’t just contributing to the town’s residential offerings (it’s the largest multi-family developer in Greystone); it’s also the commercial and retail developer for Greystone and will be building more than 300,000 square feet of new commercial space and a High Street with plenty of boutique shops and great restaurants.

“There will be a wide range of new shops, restaurants and professional services, including several new trendy global retailers, which we will be announcing this summer,” says Consul.

However, it’s not just Greystone that’s turning heads; all of Cochrane is on fire with several communities under development. Derk Patton, area sales manager for Douglas Homes in the Cochrane communities of Greystone and Precedence which is on the south side of the river, says that Cochrane is becoming the new Canmore. “But much more affordable,” he adds, with a laugh.

Precedence is nestled into the riverside community of Riversong. These communities offer easy access to the town’s downtown core via the new $53 million Jack Tennant Bridge, which opened mid-COVID.

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Rivercrest, also on the south side and developed by Qualico Communities, is a boutique community of just over 94 acres (38 hectares) and 300 single-family and duplex homes. The community recently was awarded funding for a new kindergarten to Grade 8 school site and opened a spate of show homes in the fall of 2023.

Farther east from Riversong, Precedence and Rivercrest, along the south side of the river, Qualico Communities’ newest community, Southbow Landing, is gearing up for its first phase of development. A 1.5-acre (.06-hectare) Central Park is currently under construction and plans for a substantial and much-needed south side commercial development are also underway with announcements to be made soon.

Scenic Bulrush park graces the Cochrane community of Fireside. Photo by Supplied /Postmedia

Edmundo Azuaje, manager of marketing and communications for Calbridge Homes and Developments, concurs that the demand for Cochrane has been strong over the past few years.

“The proximity to the mountain, parks and pathways, and the housing options keep driving people here,” he says.

Calbridge Developments’ community of Fireside sits adjacent to Southbow Landing on the west side of Highway 22.  The community’s five-acre central park opened last fall and features a leisure rink, pump tracks and a tobogganing hill, playground, picnic area and firepits and the current show home parade opened last summer, so “it’s still quite new and fresh.”

On the west and north side of town, located 2.5 km from the downtown core, is the 250-acre (101 hectares) community of Heartland, which has just gone through a rebrand as a result of Rohit Communities taking over the development reigns from Apex. New play areas, a landscaped storm pond, walking trails, a school site, new entrance features and a new intersection to access the community along the east side are all in the works.

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