The restoration of Airdrie’s first municipal historic resource is officially complete.
City of Airdrie staff and council members held a small ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 29 to mark the opening of the 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators. The bridge, located on Edwards Way S.W. between Railway Avenue S.W. and First Avenue N.W., has been undergoing rehabilitation since May.
“Preserving our heritage allows future generations to understand where we came from, creates ties to the industries that Airdrie was built around and protects unique cultural icons," Mayor Peter Brown said at the unveiling. "This is the first step highlighting much of Airdrie’s history.”
The project stemmed from the results of a 2018 Cultural Needs Assessment in Airdrie, which indicated there is an appetite in the community to see historical resources protected. City council passed a bylaw to designate the bridge a municipal historic resource in 2019, ensuring the bridge’s preservation.
According to Michael Dougherty, team lead for the City’s Community Development Department, the 80-foot bridge is historically significant because of its connection to Airdrie’s origins as an agrarian and railway town.
“Other than the rail line itself, it’s the last linkage to our railway and agricultural history,” he said. “The bridge was built in 1928, almost 100 years ago, to make access to the grain elevators easier for our farmers and the market. It was built to access grain elevators that sat in the area and also built to be sure to have a good flow between elevators that sat to the north in Fletcher Park.”
As Airdrie grew, the Alberta Wheat Pool elevators and the railway station were torn down, Dougherty said, but the bridge stayed.
“What remained was this bridge in a field – the ‘bridge to nowhere,’” he said. “Our research into that bridge really uncovered the special history it offers to the very beginnings of the city.”
At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, community developer Michael McCallister said from an architectural standpoint, the bridge is similar to other early bridges that were constructed in Alberta in the early 20th century.
“It characterizes early bridge construction in Alberta, with its open design, low pony truss, narrow width and a load-rating of 20 tons without requiring any additional support from above,” he said.
“The bridge, and where we’re standing, has already been identified as part of the Great Canadian Trail, which over time will bring people from all over. The grain trucks will soon be replaced with running shoes, bicycles and the laughter of kids.”
While the bridge’s restoration is complete, Dougherty said four interpretative signs will be installed in the coming weeks. The signage will outline the historical significance of the bridge, the natural history of Nose Creek and Airdrie’s development.
“It’s almost an interpretive space that we’ve built and we’re excited to see the results,” Dougherty said.
“It’s a really great conversational piece that is also a community memory that allows people to connect to their past and express those things to us, which has been fantastic."
According to City council's June 1 regular meeting agenda package, the original budget for the restoration project was $507,510, with funding coming from the Gas Tax Funding grant. Council then approved a capital budget amendment in the amount of $101,790, bringing the total budget to $609,300.