The Town of Okotoks has a Recreation Fee Assistance program that can help anyone in Okotoks and Diamond Valley.

This program has been around since 2002 and has helped foster social inclusion.

Under this program, lower-income families throughout the Okotoks and Diamond Valley area are able to receive access to certain Town of Okotoks programs at a reduced cost.

From the program's beginning in 2002 until July 1, 2023, eligible applicants for the Recreation Fee Assistance program had 80 per cent of the recreation services cost covered, up to a yearly maximum of $200.

As of July 1, 2023, the $200 yearly cap was removed.

The cap was removed to help simplify the program, as well as remove the limit on how much access people have to these activities.

"It is a program that is really intended to support and foster social inclusion," explains Community Wellness Team Lead for the Town of Okotoks, Sian Anderson. "So, it helps to make sure that all residents in Okotoks have access to recreational activities."

The Town follows the annually revised federal Low Income Cut Off (LICO) to determine who qualifies for assistance.

Under LICO, the cutoff ranges for 2024 are from $30,526 for a single person, all the way up to $80,785 for a family of 7 or more.

"This is a great opportunity for all residents in Okotoks to have fantastic access to the recreation services that are offered in our town and is a great way to ensure that everyone is able to be included in our community," Anderson says.

The Recreation Fee Assistance program saw a 36 per cent increase in applications once they removed the subsidy cap.

In 2022, the town received applications from 270 individuals from 107 households.

In 2023, the number of individuals who applied for the program increased to 333 from 145 households.

As of now, there are no limits on how many people can apply for the program.

While residents are still required to pay 20 per cent of the program fee, who exactly is paying for the 80 per cent?

"We do receive support from the Foothills Salvage and Recycling Society," says Anderson. "We received that grant from them in previous years. So, I mean with any funding source it's not guaranteed year after year, but we have had some fantastic support from them that has been used to cover costs for the program."

Because it is a regional grant, it helps cover the costs for Okotoks, Diamond Valley, and Foothills County residents.

"Tax support will help to fund the program if we have any shortfalls in our grant funding, but we do aim to cover as many of the costs as possible through grants and donations," Anderson says.

For those who wish to apply for the Recreation Assistance Program, head over to the Town Website.