Shay Barker, City of Airdrie

The whole is always greater than the sum

What is a whole community? A whole community is one that provides an excellent quality of life to a wide range of people.  Whole communities provide a variety of public services to their citizens, focusing on diverse modes of economic development, transportation, housing stock and community recreation opportunities that appeal to households at different life stages.

A whole community places emphasis on local job and education opportunities, and an environment for citizens to live healthy lives. Whole communities create vibrant public spaces, engage in arts and culture, and continually work toward more sustainable practices across the community.

A whole community is created through positive engagement, conversation and collaboration between the public and municipal administration. This holds true for interactions between members of the public too. The best whole communities have citizens with a broad understanding of short- and long-range goals that will strengthen the fabric of the community, and make it sustainable and vibrant into the future.

Those same citizens strongly believe in investing in their community – be it by opening a local business, purchasing from a local business, or giving back through charity. They participate in effective public decision-making, and contribute to the wellness of the community. In a sense, citizens of whole communities raise what the community is doing well to the forefront.

There are a number of citizens, organizations and businesses that have contributed to strengthening the fabric of Airdrie through various efforts. Just this past winter, a group of people from Airdrie joined forces to launch the #YAYAirdrie campaign. This feel-good social media campaign was created to provide an avenue for Airdrie residents to share their positive stories, videos and photos of the things that make Airdrie great.

Airdrie Angel is a program that promotes working together to lift up Airdrie residents in need. To date, the program has assisted 46 families, and nearly $90,000 of money and gifts have been donated by the community to the families assisted.

Airdrie Dads, formed initially as a Facebook group for like-minded dads in the Airdrie area, has become an advocate for the community through a number of initiatives. The group hosts a charity golf tournament every year, and most recently, was the force behind nominating Airdrie as a Kraft Hockeyville community.

Though only a few are mentioned, there are so many businesses, community groups and individuals that contribute to building Airdrie toward a whole community, and there is immense value in supporting them.

Why is being a whole community so important?

A whole community is an attractive community – to visitors, potential residents, potential new businesses and investors.

The more a community is able to express long-range goals for the future; the more a community and its residents invest in the community, its programs, its infrastructure and its businesses; the more whole it becomes. It is proven that a community that is unique, one that invests in arts and culture, recreation, gathering spaces, and infrastructure, is more economically sustainable. Whole communities attract a breadth of diverse people and unique businesses, strengthening the fabric of that community.

So, as residents of Airdrie, ask yourself how you are contributing to make our city a whole community. Let’s continue to work to raise our community up, and continue to show the world why Airdrie is the best place to live.

Shay Barker is an economic development officer with the City of Airdrie.

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