A future interchange at 40th Avenue will play a crucial role in facilitating future residential and commercial development in Airdrie, according to an economic impact analysis by BuildForce Canada.
At a regular Airdrie City council meeting Oct. 5, representatives from BuildForce Canada – which provides the construction industry with labour market information – presented the results of the analysis, which reinforced the importance of the $65 million capital project. With the overpass still in the pre-construction stage, the City is looking to secure both provincial and federal funding support.
According to Leona Esau, the City of Airdrie’s intergovernmental liaison, the economic impact analysis was meant to determine not only the impact of the interchange’s construction but also the ensuing development and labour market conditions in Airdrie until 2050.
“The Airdrie Developer Group is comprised of nine local developers and home builders, who see the construction of this interchange as integral to the continued growth of Airdrie,” she said.
Aaron Stokes, lead economic modeller with BuildForce Canada, presented an overview of the study’s findings to council, which the City will highlight when advocating for provincial and federal funding for the project.
According to the study, the analysis “modelled the potential economic impacts of building these key transportation infrastructure assets immediately” as well as “the induced regional economic development returns over a 30-year period.”
Once the new interchange is complete, improved access to and from Airdrie would facilitate a flurry of development in the city, according to Stokes, with more than 7,500 acres of land identified in the interchange’s catchment zone for future development. He noted the lands will accommodate the development of more than 36,000 residential units, more than 2,100 acres of industrial zoning and 381 acres of commercial zoning.
“According to previous studies, the construction of the bridge and interchange should permit these land developments, which are currently on hold due to access constraints, in addition to providing the community with the critical infrastructure it requires to develop future lands,” he said.
“Of course, this will take time to develop all of this land – the assumption is these lands are going to gradually develop over a 30-year period.”
Stokes said the study indicated those developments could result in economic returns totalling as much as $20 billion once fully realized.
“By the time all these businesses have been built out by the end of the 30-year period, we’ve estimated about $1.25 billion worth of gross domestic product will be generated by all the non-residential developments,” he said. “This is, of course, the summation of wages and profits earned by these businesses each year by 2050.
“By the time all these businesses are fully operating by the end of the 30-year period, they are estimated to employ over 16,000 people to keep them running.”
Following the presentation, council received the report for information. Deputy Mayor Al Jones said the study’s results pointed to the need to continue advocating for the 40th Avenue project.
"I think it confirms what council has been saying for a number of years now – that 40th Avenue is an investment, not just a cost, that will benefit all of Alberta and not just Airdrie," he said. "I thank the folks who worked on this report, and I'm assuming the provincial government will receive a copy of it."