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Economy and Taxes highlights at State of the City Address

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Mayor Bill Given gave his State of the City Address Thursday afternoon. He spoke on past, present, and future of the city with special notes on tourism growth. In the last year, he says there has been significant growth in that sector with the Philip J. Currie museum and the addition of the Bear Creek Festival.

“People will travel from all parts of the province and country to come to this [festival] and that means they will be spending money here that they wouldn’t otherwise. I think we need to recognize that Tourism is that fourth pillar of our economy.”

As part of the address, Downtown Revitalization was noted as a desire from the community. Given explains that the project presents Grande Prairie as a truly urban centre.

“Council’s commitment is reflective of the community and I think it says that Grande Prairie is a truly urban centre. In many parts of the province Grande Prairie is recognized as a rural community. This may be the case compared to Edmonton or Calgary but in our region we are the urban centre.”

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The Mayor also took a focus on taxes within the city and took to comparing city property taxes to those in the County. He says there is reasons the city residents bare a bigger property tax burden and it is measurable.

“Coming out of the Community Foundations Vital Signs Report, it was recognized that household incomes are about $10,000 highers in the County.”

He pointed out that it is a problem and challenge in the way the region is structured.

The one message the Mayor says he wants to get across is that although Grande Prairie isn’t immune to the changes that are happening in the economy in the province and the country, he says the city is better off to than other urban centres.

Premier Rachel Notley, Minister of Energy Marg McCuaig-Boyd, Minister of Finance Joe Ceci, and Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee attended the announcement. Local MLA Wayne Drysden was also in attendance.

The event was held at the Teresa Sargent hall in the Montrose Cultural Centre.

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