A is for Advocating: Championing for Airdrie’s Needs

Story by Patricia Merrick

Spring 2024

Airdrie is the fastest-growing city in Alberta and helping provincial decision-makers understand how growth impacts communities is critical to seeing these changes come to fruition. Although elected officials such as the mayor and council, along with support from City administration, play a huge role in the provincial funding process, input from residents is vital. airdrielife asked City of Airdrie officials about this topic, which were condensed to meet the space restrictions in our print edition. Here are the responses in full (edited only for clarity):

Q: Tell us about the City’s advocacy portfolio.

A: Although advocating for our community is something many people play an important role in, it’s a key function of mayor and council, with support from City administration. (They) work diligently to create and foster relationships with other elected officials at the municipal, regional, provincial and federal levels of government. By leveraging these relationships, the City has achieved some of its greatest advocacy successes and garnered positive results for Airdrie.

City administration plays a critical support role in researching and framing opportunities and providing current information and data to inform positions and discussions. At the administrative level, a small team of two work to support the City’s advocacy initiatives, intergovernmental relations and grant-writing activities.

Q: What kind of topics are included/what is being advocated for?

A: The City actively advocates on a variety of topics (such as) increased funding for growing municipalities, fair and transparent funding formulas for infrastructure projects, and new fiscal tools and policy updates. Airdrie is the fastest-growing city in Alberta and helping provincial decision-makers understand how growth impacts communities is critical to seeing these changes come to fruition. Airdrie’s growth also leads to the need for advocacy for other local supports from the Provincial and Federal governments such as funding for affordable housing, education and increased mental health resources. Advocacy in this form is mostly about partnerships that can help improve what we have today and ensure sustainability over the long term.

When advocacy is focused on gaps in services that are the responsibility of another level of government, like health care and schools, community involvement is essential. When residents get involved, it helps speed up timelines and the dedication of provincial funds to fill these gaps sooner rather than later. We aren’t ashamed to be a squeaky wheel when it comes to advocating for our community!

Advocacy is a continuum. Sometimes the work results in a quick win but other, more complex challenges may take years for change to occur. Identifying the current and upcoming needs of our community and advocating for them as early as possible is important.

Q: When did this these initiatives start and why?

A: “Advocating on behalf of the residents and businesses of Airdrie isn’t new for the City,” says Mayor Peter Brown. “For as long as there has been a need in the community, there have been advocates. The City is constantly identifying resource gaps — infrastructure, funding or services — within

the community and working diligently with other levels of government for support to address the need.”

Sometimes, it’s as simple as a meeting or phone call with a cabinet minister or just chatting with a key provincial staff member at a conference. In 2023, there were 48 meetings to discuss needs in Airdrie with provincial cabinet ministers and senior-level government officials. Other forms of advocacy can include emails, formal letters, events or grant applications. Airdrie’s story is being shared in many ways by many different people.

In 2023, the City hosted its first Airdrie Day at the Alberta Legislature. This was an advocacy event in Edmonton which brought together community representatives, City, council and many MLAs, both UCP and NDP. At the end of the evening, Airdrie’s story had been shared with almost all the provincial cabinet ministers and dozens of MLAs from across the province.

Q: Why is it important for people to get involved?

A: Lived experiences from our residents and business community matter when it comes to advocating to decision-makers. The City provides community statistics, information (and) projects that require support and opportunities for the Province to partner with us, but it is community members who provide a unique personal perspective about how these needs and challenges are impacting them on a daily basis.

When it comes to advocating for increased resources for services provided by the Provincial government, the more voices, the better! Numbers on school capacity and population growth provide key data needed for new school construction-funding formulas, but nothing drives home the need for a new school like hearing from hundreds of parents of students who are struggling to learn in overcrowded classrooms.

Urgent care visit statistics and wait time-tracking paints a picture of the need for more health-care resources in a community, but sharing the real-life experience of travelling over 40 minutes on the highway in poor weather to give birth, or waiting over an hour for an ambulance, give that picture much more colour and depth.

“Both sides to the story are important if we are going to be successful in our advocacy efforts as a city,” says Mayor Brown. “Accurate data and statistics back up and provide validity to the real-life experiences shared by people in Airdrie.”

Q: What is the goal from here?

A: Keep going! As we try new approaches, continue to build relationships and more of the community gets involved, our momentum is growing.

Our plans are to continue working closely with our local MLAs, Angela Pitt and Minister of Infrastructure Pete Guthrie, as they represent Airdrie at the Provincial Cabinet and Caucus tables, and (also) Federal MP Blake Richards. Their work on our behalf is critical to moving forward with many of our advocacy efforts and expanding our relationships with the Provincial and Federal governments.

Q: Who should get involved, and how can people get involved?

A: Everyone! Advocating for resources and funding for our city is easy and a great way to get engaged in supporting our community. Whether you’re thinking about it as a resident or from a business perspective; a newcomer to Airdrie; or someone who has been here for many years, it doesn’t take long to find a connection with an advocacy area.

One of the easiest ways to start is to send a letter or email to the Provincial Government and then encourage your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers to do the same. There’s great power in numbers and, when provincial decision-makers hear from a lot of people in Airdrie about the things that are very important to our community, they take notice. Our voices are louder and our message goes further when we work together.

Information and sample letters can be found on the City’s website at for anyone who’s ready to help.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: The 40th Avenue interchange project is a great example of a successful advocacy story for Airdrie. The need for an interchange in that area was identified more than 20 years ago. The City worked alongside several different Provincial and Federal governments over the years to advance the project. Since October 2023, when the project was completed and the road opened, our community is travelling safer and more efficiently. The impacts of 40th Avenue are felt throughout the day in all parts of Airdrie. We’re appreciative for the support we’ve received for this project and look forward to continuing to build on the partnerships we’ve created.