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Heritage designation in the works for local bridge

A project seeking to protect and preserve a piece of Airdrie’s heritage has been given the go-ahead by Airdrie City council – the designation of the 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators as a municipal historic resource.
Local landmark
Airdrie’s 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators is on its way to receiving designation as a municipal historic resource, thanks to a vote by Airdrie City council at a regular meeting March 4.

A project seeking to protect and preserve a piece of Airdrie’s heritage has been given the go-ahead by Airdrie City council – the designation of the 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators as a municipal historic resource. According to Michael Dougherty, team leader with Community Development, the bridge (also known as Edwards Way Bridge) is the last remaining piece of the city’s railway heritage following the closure and eventual demolition of the community’s Alberta Wheat Pool elevators. “[It] is a lasting vestige to the centuries-old transportation corridor that links modern-day Airdrie to its pre-history,” Dougherty said in a report to council at a regular meeting March 4. “Purpose-built in 1928 as an access to the grain elevators, the bridge is a hallmark to Airdrie’s agrarian, railway town and early settlement histories.” According to Dougherty, protecting the bridge opens up Alberta Historical Resources Foundation funding of $50,000 through an annual grant program that provides matching funds for conservation activities. Additionally, as the bridge is slated to become part of the Trans-Canada Trail, as per the City’s parks planning, the historical designation offers a “rare opportunity” for heritage interpretation and placemaking while introducing a community-identity-building component. The move also provides a much-needed sense of history to the community. “Heritage” has been identified as significant – and lacking – by Airdronians, Dougherty’s report states. Citizens involved in the engagement process for the City’s Cultural Development Action Plan indicated residents feel Airdrie “does not have an appreciation of history” or a “sense of roots.” “They noted that with the population boom, the city has lost its heritage, does not have an identity and needs to work to create one,” Dougherty said. “They thought this was not necessarily a function of size, but rather a feeling.” The possibility of the designation of the site as a historic resource was suggested in a 2018 capital project request for a restoration project on the bridge. According to Dougherty, a comprehensive historical assessment and statement of significance regarding the structure was completed, which included the recommendation for heritage designation. “The conservation of the 1928 Nose Creek Bridge to the Elevators offers an opportunity to establish and demonstrate a municipal commitment to the protection of Airdrie’s cultural heritage and the fostering of community identity and pride,” the statement read. The report, prepared by Heritage Consultant Judy Larmour, states the bridge was an important permanent transportation infrastructure during the settlement period, as farmers demanded new and improved roads and bridges to get their grain to market in Airdrie. Almost a century later, the bridge “retains its design integrity,” the report notes, from its steel superstructure to its distinctive wooden abutment features. “The [bridge] conveys the feeling of early road bridges in Alberta, and evokes horse-drawn and early motorized travel,” Larmour stated in her assessment. “Its isolated central location within the riparian area of Nose Creek highlights the historic necessity for bridges that characterized the settlement period.” Today, the structure reflects the cultural landscape of Airdrie’s past and provides a valuable landmark within the city. “It signifies the importance of the surrounding rural farming community, and of Airdrie as an important grain-handling centre through the 20th century,” Larmour said. Following council’s endorsement of the Notice of Intent (NOI) to designate the bridge as a municipal historic resource, Dougherty said, there will be a required 60-day waiting period to allow for dissenting views to be voiced and all implications reviewed before a Municipal Historical Resource bylaw can be drafted. This will be presented to council for approval, and a listing for the bridge will be added to both the Alberta and Canadian Registers of Historic Places. “The restoration project is not subject to the 60-day waiting period so can commence at any time,” he added. “However, from issuance of the NOI, any work completed on the character-defining elements of the structure must conform to the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.”

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