Looking to fuel growth in Bragg Creek, a local developer is hoping to construct an oasis along the path of the Elbow River.
Owner and president of The Gateway Village Development Dick Koetsier purchased land in Bragg Creek in 2005. The land spans 12 acres and is located behind the hamlet's shopping centres. A self-described “land speculator,” Koetsier said he knew when he purchased the land that Bragg Creek would develop into a popular space.
The original plan was to sell the land, but Koetsier said he fell in love with the area and later moved to Bragg Creek in May 2013 – right before a once-in-a-generation flood wreaked havoc on the hamlet.
“There was a very famous clip [on the news] of a house floating down the river – that was my house and that was all my possessions,” Koetsier said.
He estimates he lost about four acres in the flood.
Since 2013, flood mitigation has been pursued in the hamlet, and construction on berms recently began. To facilitate the project, Koetsier sold a portion of his land to the provincial government.
In the end, he said, what mattered is that actions are being taken to keep the community safe in the event of future floods.
“This is the perfect opportunity for the hamlet and for myself to do something really positive for our community,” Koetsier said. “It’s time now to take the step.”
In 2012, Koetsier said, he began to visualize what the Gateway Village development would look like. He has spent the last eight years working with the hamlet and Rocky View County (RVC) in planning and developing the project.
Koetsier praised the consultation he received from former RVC Coun. Bob Everett, who helped guide some of the design choices for the development in the summer of 2020.
“From that moment on, things just started clicking,” Koetsier said.
As part of the proposed development, Koetsier added they are also planning to resurrect the famous Bragg Creek restaurant The Steak Pit. The restaurant's original building was destroyed in the 2013 flood.
“We’re going to recreate it in its former glory,” he said.
The Gateway Village is looking to balance the heritage of the hamlet with creative innovations. The plan for the development includes a commercial village of about 2,500 square metres, a hospitality village with a 120-room hotel, a spa and conference centre, a residential village of up to 170 residential units and open-space amenities, including an outdoor amphitheatre.
“There’s so much magic here that really needs to be incorporated in this project,” he said.
Koetsier cited the Bragg Creek Revitalization Plan and the central place his 12 acres of land seemed to play. He added it was encouraging to see because it showed people were looking for a change and supported it in his development.
The key concern seems to be ensuring the hamlet does not turn into Canmore or Banff, according to Koetsier, who added that change is coming but will be calculated and careful to ensure the unique identity of Bragg Creek is maintained.
If successful in receiving approval from RVC to develop, the Gateway Village is anticipated to begin construction in about two to three years. RVC is expected to review and read the Master Site Development Plan for The Gateway Village in the spring. Phase One of the development will include the restoration of The Steak Pit and changes to the Old West Mall.
Phase Two includes the hotel and spa, followed by residential developments and multi-use commercial developments.
“I want to celebrate this community for the rest of my life. It’s such a great community,” Koetsier said. “I’m not just moving on to the next one.”
Koetsier has opened an office in the Old West Mall and is encouraging anyone interested in the project to drop by with questions or observations on the development.