Last Wednesday, the UrbanCSA took 21 students to Drake Landing Solar Community in Okotoks, Alberta. In 1998, Okotoks made a decision about its future, becoming one of the first municipalities in the world to establish growth targets linked to infrastructure development and environmental carrying capacity when it adopted a Municipal Development Plan. They called this innovative initiative the ‘legacy plan’. Okotoks has successfully integrated Canadian energy efficient technologies with a renewable, unlimited energy source. Did anybody guess what that source is? I know you all did, it’s the Sun. The main idea behind the functionality of this community are the principles surrounding the district heating system. This is designed to store abundant solar energy underground during the summer months and re-distribute this energy to homes in the community for space heating needs during the winter months. Ultimately, this requires less dependance on finite fossil fuels to provide the community with heat. For those that did not attend the tour, there is a vast amount of information regarding the numbers and feasibility of such an ambitious endeavor and I encourage you to find out more about this community. Alright, details. The tour was not as large as last year but I feel it worked out better because with this number of students we could do an in depth tour of the community in one group. We toured the district heating center, the recycle depot and two show homes. One model home was based completely on recycled material (such as carpet and insulation) and one model based on clean air to the point of hypoallergenic furniture! Our host for the afternoon was very knowledgeable, and the timing of the tour worked out well as they had just received an update with respect to how the pilot project is progressing. The highlight (sorta) of the trip for me was the amazing 3 point turn the bus driver made on highway 2 trying to convince us he knew a shortcut to the community. Humorous. That about sums it all up. This trip was an exception because of the cost of renting a chartered bus to deliver us safely to our destination (however, the rear tires looked suspect and I think I aptly described our drivers decision making process earlier), but normally our tours are free to members. Hope to see everybody at some upcoming events. I’m out.