Revitalization Plan to breathe new life into Airdrie’s downtown

Story by Leanne Murray


Photos by Sergei Belski

Fall 2023

There are big plans for Airdrie’s downtown area, says City of Airdrie economic development officer Adena Malyk, who has been tasked with the role of downtown revitalization coordinator.

“Our goal is to transform the downtown into a vibrant and thriving area by hosting exciting events and attracting new businesses. We aim to double the current development in the downtown, drawing both residents and visitors to the area.”

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting downtown Cochrane or Okotoks, you know what she’s talking about. Both feature a quaint, walkable downtown where the streets are lined with interesting shoppes. The plan is the same here, to encourage businesses that contribute to the look and feel of the area, that add value both aesthetically and economically.

It’s a long road, with completion many years out – but the transition has already begun.

“We have achieved several milestones,” says Malyk, “including the adoption of a plan with seven incentives that cover various aspects, such as funding restaurant patio furniture, refunding application fees and reducing development securities. Additionally, the City has invested $2 million into the downtown, and we received approval for a community revitalization levy from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Exciting new businesses like Crumbl Cookies have joined the Towerlane Centre, Cream Body and Bath redeveloped their existing space and the multi-use facility and new Airdrie Public Library will serve as a connection point and gateway into the downtown from the south end of the city.”

With Airdrie continuing to grow at an incredible rate annually, both in terms of population and the city itself, the goal is to establish downtown as a destination for both businesses and consumers. It will be a place where people walk, shop, dine or just get together with friends.

“Our Core Strategy was developed through extensive public consultation from 2016 to 2019, and the plan embodies 10 key principles that set Airdrie apart from other municipalities and make it an ideal choice for businesses looking to thrive. By choosing Airdrie, businesses gain access to what will be a vibrant downtown that offers a unique blend of proactive investment, strategic location, community engagement, sustainable growth and collaborative support.”

Following is a list of a few new businesses that have made downtown Airdrie their home in the past year:

Boulevard Home
Crumbl Cookies
Jema’s All Day Breakfast
Maverick’s Donuts
Off the Beaten Path Psychology
and Wellness
Prairie Donair
Serengeti Shack
Sewing To Bless
Vena Women’s Health & Wellness

When Crumbl Cookies was looking for a prime location in Airdrie, downtown, in Tower Lane Mall, was the obvious choice.

From a single store in Logan, Utah, in 2017, and one cookie flavour, Crumbl Cookies has grown to hundreds of flavours and more than 800 stores across the U.S. and three in Canada – including the one in downtown Airdrie which opened in June and has attracted lineups of cookie fanatics eager to taste the rotating weekly offerings of tantalizing flavours including key lime pie, lemon cupcake and dulce de leche.

Tara Hardie, director of operations with ZZA Hospitality Group, which owns the Edmonton and Airdrie Crumbl locations, says everything is made fresh in-house daily with high-quality ingredients in an open-concept kitchen.

“What I love about Crumbl is that you can see it all, so you know the hard work and the love and quality ingredients that are going into every single cookie,” says Hardie, who lives in Airdrie and says the community is a perfect location for the franchise. The Main Street store is right in the heart of the city and is easy for people to get to.

Hardie says the Airdrie location employs more than 100 workers and that it’s a privilege to be the first place of employment for about 60 per cent of them.

“We’re not just another big name. We are local and we want to be a part of the community,” she says, adding that leftover cookies are donated to local organizations at the end of each day

Located in downtown Airdrie, Kristy McConnell is right where she wants to be with her psychology practice. The registered psychologist is the founder of Off the Beaten Path Psychology and Wellness, which combines office therapy with movement and talk therapy outdoors.

Off the Beaten Path started entirely outdoors in Airdrie in 2017. Eventually, the practice moved into a space on 1 Street NW, on the same block as Nauton Place, a quaint character home that has previously housed a coffee shop and law office, among other businesses. Every time McConnell walked by, she dreamed of owning Nauton Place and operating her practice out of it.

That dream came true when she and her husband purchased the building. “When it came on the market, we decided to go for it,” McConnell says.

Off the Beaten Path moved into Nauton Place in May 2022, with McConnell and five other psychologists providing support for adults and youth from Airdrie and surrounding areas, offering services including EMDR therapy, couples therapy and psychoeducational assessments.

Three other businesses operate in the space: Vena Women’s Health + Wellness Clinic, Silver Willow Psychology and Little Lotus Psychology.

Having an office with good vibes is incredibly important to McConnell, and she is thrilled to provide her services in her dream location.

“When you’re coming for therapy and trauma treatment… it’s nice to walk into a place that feels cozy, and Nauton Place definitely has that energy,” she says.