Airdrie is the place to be in 2023 … and beyond

Story by Jim Zang

Summer 2023

“Airdrie truly is the place to be.”

That was the message from Mayor Peter Brown in his State of the City address to a packed house of Airdrie business owners and Chamber of Commerce members at the Town and Country Centre on June 6.

The luncheon was a chance for the local business community to gain valuable insight into some of the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead for Airdrie, and what the City is doing to meet and take advantage of them – with Mayor Brown presenting in his usual friendly, folksy and, at times, funny style.

According to Mayor Brown, Council has identified seven major focus areas for their term in office: Transportation; Leisure, Recreation and Culture; Environmental Protection; Advocacy; Caring Community; Informed and Engaged Community; and Economic Development.

Always open to feedback, the luncheon allowed attendees to log in to a web link to both ask and respond to questions in real time throughout the presentation. For attendees, the three biggest priorities were infrastructure (57%), healthcare (44%) and schools (29%).

Earlier this year, at the Home and Lifestyle show, the City asked attendees for their opinion on how to prioritize some upcoming possible capital projects, and Mayor Brown posed the similar question to the crowd. The top three new infrastructure priorities for the crowd included the southwest recreation centre, a CP Rail underpass at Yankee Valley and a new waterline from Calgary.

Clearly, there’s lots of work to be done and, with the support of businesses and residents, said Mayor Brown, the City is up to the task.

In fact, much of it has already begun, said the Mayor. The southwest rec centre is needed badly, and it’s coming. A new lift station is being built for additional water treatment capacity (lift stations manage wastewater by using powerful pumps to ensure a continuous flow to the treatment plant and stop the system from overflowing). The first-ever community well-being survey was conducted. The completion of a firehall in the northeast will mean there’s one in each quadrant of the city. The new Airdrie Public Library is underway and, of course, the 40th Avenue interchange is in its final phases “on time and on budget”.

“It’s not easy to keep up with infrastructure given our city’s extraordinary growth,” said Mayor Brown, who expects the most recent municipal census to show a population of around 81,000. “We’ve done a good job of recognizing what needs doing and when.”

There’s a vision for a revitalized downtown, he said, but it will take time. A Community Revitalization Levy (CRL) that helps keep money in Airdrie that would otherwise have gone to the provincial government will help fund the project.

In addition to the downtown revitalization plan, the City’s Economic Development team continues to work to both attract new businesses to Airdrie as well as support businesses already here through a number of ongoing programs, including SMARTstart, the Right For Your Business consulting opportunity and Digital Service Squad, which offers businesses advice on internet marketing and maximizing your business through using available technology.

Availability of affordable office space remains a challenge for some businesses, as does skilled labour. The in-house online survey showed that 92 per cent of Airdrie business owners and operators at the luncheon are ‘satisfied’ doing business in Airdrie.

Inflation is also a challenge, not just at the gas pumps and grocery store, but for businesses and governments as well.

The single, biggest challenge, however, says Mayor Brown, is funding. Specifically, money from the provincial government.

“We need more help from the provincial government, especially when compared to what other Alberta cities are getting. It’s unacceptable,” he said, noting the City is going to step up their advocacy campaign. “We are NOT a bedroom community of Calgary. We stand alone and we need help.

“High-growth communities can’t continue to be short-changed. We could use a new school every year based on our growth, nearly 400 new students per year, yet the new provincial funding formula will have us literally get less from the province moving forward. We’re not getting our fair share.”

Everyone needs to be onboard, he said, from governments, to businesses, to residents. To do your part, visit

“Airdrie truly is the place to be. Growth hasn’t cost us our sense of community. When people stop to talk to me on the street, they invariably have something positive to say. It’s an exciting time to be Mayor. This is a great city.”