Airdrie's Mayor, Peter Brown, is reflecting on 2023 and what the new year holds for the city and council.

As he looks back on the past year, he said there are plenty of things to celebrate, including the completion of the 40th Avenue Interchange, which the mayor said is not only about easing traffic congestion in an ever-expanding city but also a safety issue.

"Connecting East and West and providing options for residents and businesses; so, I would say it was monumental in getting that done. I'm very proud of all the people that contributed to that success and hopefully, we won't have to worry about traffic in that area for at least a little while."

The topic of Airdrie's growing population has been a recurring one within Airdrie's city council chambers, especially as it pertains to how the city can maintain infrastructure in line with the demands of residents. Mayor Brown said that the milestone which was hit in the spring of 2023, with Airdrie surpassing 80,000 people is also a highlight of the past year.

He added that major infrastructure projects that are already underway, including the $65 million Airdrie library and multi-use facility, as well as the preparations for the new Northeast Regional Park are all coming together and he is looking forward to more progress this year.

While many of the large infrastructure projects have already been approved and are underway, Mayor Brown said 2024 will also bring hurdles for a city that is expanding, with one of the highest growth rates in the province.

"We've got a new fire hall coming on stream [and] with new fire halls, you have to hire firefighters, that's a significant cost and one we're willing to bear because we need safety and security," Mayor Brown stated. "[However], we have lots of things coming up in the next five, six years, that are expensive and we're working to develop through that."

But it isn't just the practical infrastructure projects that the Mayor reflected on as 'big wins' for the City. He enumerated how new monuments and art installations not only beautified the city but also underscored that Airdrie is attracting international recognition.

"I think the Korean War monument was quite a gift from the Korean government; we got international recognition from the Korean people and everyone's had an opportunity to go to the Cenotaph and see this magnificent piece of stone that was contributed to the City and will be able to have for generations to come," Mayor Brown said.

There was also the installation of a poignant series of bronze sculptures featured in Nose Creek Park, honouring Indigenous heritage, which Mayor Brown said, coupled with the permanent raising of the Metis and Treaty Seven flags cemented that Airdrie is not only open but is committed to meaningful work with the Indigenous communities in the region.

As he looks toward what this year will bring, along with the next few years, Mayor Brown said he is hopeful for 2024; hopeful that major development projects, whether it be the library's construction, or the beginning of construction of the city's fourth fire station, that the city will continue to not only grow, but thrive. However, the Mayor added that while he is optimistic about what 2024 holds for the city, he is not ignorant of the fact that the economic landscape, including inflation, is impacting Airdrie residents.

"We're all subject to it - interest rates have not come down, we're hopeful that they will, [but] we don't have a lot of control over what the federal government spends their money on, or how they're contributing to inflation. At the end of the day, I'm hopeful for 2024."

Mayor Brown pointed to the fact that while Airdrie has grown from a small town to a bustline 80-thousand-some city, the crime severity index is relatively low, in comparison to other regional neighbours.

"We're still the place to be and we're still attracting new families, new entrepreneurs every day."

While the Mayor is focusing on the coming year, he clarified that in terms of looking into the long-term and ahead of the municipal election, he isn't thinking that far ahead. 

"I worry about tomorrow and I'm focused on doing the job. It's a long way away." 

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