Genesis Land Development, a land developer and residential homebuilder, kick-started the holiday season with a flick of a switch on Nov. 19, lighting up the bridges connecting its canal-side communities of Bayside and Bayview after sunset.
Prior to what was marketed as the lighting of the canals, families were encouraged to peruse the west Airdrie neighbourhoods during daylight hours at the grand opening of the next housing phase in Bayview in partnership with Calbridge Homes and Genesis Builders Group.
The Airdrie Festival of Light’s miniature train made a guest appearance, offering rides and tours around the showhomes, together with food trucks and other activities including an Igloo tent.
According to Brendan McCashin, vice president of Genesis Land Development, more than 150 people attended the inaugural Bright Lights 2022 event, with approximately 33,000 lights installed on the various bridges across the canals network.
“The team dreamt it up and Bayside has always had a really active and engaged resident base and people who call that area home,” McCashin said in an interview.
Though Bayside is an existing part of an established residential community built several years ago, McCashin said there has always been an active resident base there.
“We wanted to get back a little bit and get everyone out in the community and create that sense of community heading into the holiday season,” he said.
According to the vice-president, there were already some houses in the area that had Christmas lights and decorations up, and the team thought they’d “beef it up quite a bit.”
“We came in there with a bunch of Christmas lights and a bit of a kick-off for the holiday season and it turned out better than we expected,” he said. “It was a great turnout by all accounts, so we’re really happy to see it come to fruition.”
The event hosted music entertainment and hot chocolate for a variety of attendees including the elderly, families, and children walking through with their pets in tow.
McCashin said a large number of people came out and stayed for the beverages and entertainment.
“A really successful community is about the people who live there and when you see people getting out and meeting each other and developing friendships over the fence, it creates a much stronger sense of community and a safer community at the end of the day,” he said.
McCashin added community-building events help foster a feeling of togetherness and a place where people want to live and stay for their entire lives. He said grassroots initiatives and block parties are a great way to help the community flourish.
“We see these things happen this time of year, especially when the days seem short and dark. Light it up [the street] and get everyone out and meeting each other,” he said. “It’s great to see.”
He added the initiative relied on some of the residents in the area to contribute with their lights and are asking them to participate by decorating and lighting up back patios along the canals this December.
Genesis Land plans to capture a video of the canal and homes shining bright early next month.