The MLS club decided against exercising their option to sign the 21-year-old utility man permanently following his season-long loan spell at BC Place.
Aird, 21, joined the Whitecaps in January on a season-long deal after falling out of favour under Rangers manager Mark Warburton and went on to make 16 starts in 18 MLS appearances for Carl Robinson’s men, transitioning from midfield into a full-time right-back in the process.
The four-time capped Canadian international showed plenty of defensive improvement over the opening few months of the campaign as a regular starter, but he eventually lost his place in the side due to a combination of niggling injuries and inconsistency and earned just six league appearances from June onwards.
The Whitecaps, who ultimately missed out on a playoff spot by seven points after finishing eighth in the Western Conference, did have the option to make his stay permanent at the end of the campaign, but the Canadian club will now be on the hunt for a new right-back over the coming months.
"We have built a strong core and are pleased with where we are at in the process of building our roster for next season," head coach Robinson told the team’s official website upon announcing their roster moves ahead of 2017. "In addition to our players under contract, we continue to actively look for additional key difference makers and will provide updates when available."
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, to Scottish parents, Aird grew up supporting Rangers in Canada before moving across the Atlantic to sign a dream deal with the Glasgow giants at the age of 16.
The versatile youngster has since played 85 times for his boyhood club, recording 17 goals along with 12 assists, but he made just four appearances under Warburton over the first half of the 2015-16 season before linking up with the Whitecaps.
With 18 months left on his contract, it remains to be seen what the future holds for him at Ibrox, but the fact that he struggled to make his mark in MLS – albeit in a new position – suggests he faces a real challenge to revive his Gers career going forward.
His ability to play multiple positions could see him carve out a role as a useful backup in the squad if Warburton gives him another chance, but it may simply be better for him to look for a fresh start elsewhere at this point.