On the heels of an 85 per cent population increase over the past decade, a small city just north of Calgary is now enjoying a more manageable pace of growth.Airdrie is now home to 70,564 people, up 3.63 per cent year over year, says its 2019 municipal census. Five years ago, its head count was 54,891, and in 2009, it was 38,091.Sixty-six per cent of Airdrie’s population today is between the ages of 25 and 44 years old.“It’s phenomenal,” says Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown. “We were one of the fastest-growing communities in Canada, certainly in Alberta, for the last number of years.”With that said, double-digit growth — such as Airdrie’s 10.7 per cent surge from 2013 to 2014 — is difficult to sustain, says Brown. “We’ve seen a bit of a drop over the past few years,” he adds, calling this year’s rise “very healthy.”“Our incredible population growth has been a bit of a defining factor in recent years. Smaller, more consistent population increases, like the one we experienced this year, certainly make growth a little easier to manage.”While a sharp population rise can bring challenges around keeping up with infrastructure, there are benefits, as well.“It has brought us a lot of employment opportunities, a lot of commercial opportunities,” says Brown, pointing to “extended park systems and recreation facilities” as other examples of positives for the city.Last year’s $67 million in commercial/industrial construction in Airdrie was the highest value the city has seen in three years.On what’s drawing moving vans to Airdrie, multiple factors play a role, including a “myriad of housing options,” says Brown.“I’m not seeing any shortfalls in our building styles,” he says, adding every segment is “there right now.”Airdrie added 951 homes between April 2018 and 2019, bringing its total number to 26,210. Seventy-five per cent of homes in Airdrie are owner-occupied, with the 25 per cent balance belonging to renters.King’s Heights — which continues to offer new home sales — paces the city in both population and number of dwellings with tallies of 5,519 and 1,953, respectively, says the 2019 census.Master-planned by Melcor Developments, King’s Heights and its neighbouring community of Ravenswood by Qualico Communities, lead residential growth on the city’s southeast end.The most active area for new home builders in Airdrie, presently, is on the west side. Here, Mattamy Homes is developing Southwinds, Vesta Properties has Airdrie’s newest community in Southpoint, there’s Cooper’s Crossing by WestMark Holdings, Chinook Gate by Brookfield Residential, and Pier 11, Canals Landing and Bayview by Genesis Land Development. The west also features HillCrest by Apex Developments, and Midtown by Shane Communities and Apex.“South of Yankee Valley Boulevard, there’s quite a bit of development going on there,” says Brown.Airdrie’s growth over the past year was equal to 6.8 new residents per day. Included in that tally was Roger Beals, Fabiola Beals and their six-year-old son Rogan. The young family moved from an established neighbourhood in Calgary to Airdrie’s Bayview, buying a home by Stepper Homes, in late 2018.With few options for the couple to enroll Rogan in a school near the Beals’ home in Calgary, they decided to look elsewhere.“I didn’t want to be commuting my son to another quadrant of the city for school,” says Roger, an insurance broker who works from home. “I wanted it to be convenient for my wife and me to pick him up.”Now, from their Airdrie home, the distance to class is a quick walk away.While distance to schools was at the heart of their decision to move, for the Beals, overall, Airdrie has been a fit. Rogers lauds its connectivity.“The thing I like about Airdrie is that everything is close,” he says. “You can drive from one end of Airdrie to the end in like 10 minutes. There are several options for grocery stores, little shops — if you need anything, it’s there. Even having a variety of restaurants five to seven minutes from our house was something I really liked about Airdrie.”Looking at Bayview, the Beals are fans of its inviting outdoor spaces. “There’s a big canal right across the street from our house,” Roger says. “There are a lot of trails that we can ride bikes on and explore.”The couple bought Stepper’s Willow model, singling out its striking curved staircase and master ensuite as favourite features. Moving to this floor plan, which measures more than 2,300 square feet, meant increasing their living space by more than 100 per cent, from the 1,100-square-foot bungalow they had in Calgary.Roger also mentions more affordable prices in Airdrie compared to similar homes in Calgary as another upside to their move north.The average residential sale price in Airdrie has increased the past two years, says the 2019 census. It was $401,800 last year, rallying from $394,046 in 2017 and $385,762 in 2016.Further to what’s made Airdrie a draw, “our trail systems, our recreation facilities, we have a lot to offer,” Brown says. “For me, the No. 1 is the people who live here. We have a small-town feel with bigger-city amenities and you can see it on a daily basis.”Included in these amenities is an expansion of medical services, with Airdrie adding 24-hour urgent care in 2017.Brown also credits the value in Airdrie’s proximity to Calgary — which he dubs an “awesome neighbour” — singling out shopping opportunities and specially the distance to Calgary International Airport.