Mayor Bill Given talked to city residents this afternoon about the current state of Grande Prairie, and what’s on the way.

Given says downtown Grande Prairie is a huge priority for council.

We see a great opportunity to encourage more growth and development and re-investment in the downtown core. I believe that it’s going to take looking at a number of issues in a significantly different way than we have in the past.

Given says the current downtown was built to support the Grande Prairie of 1950.

Council would like to build the downtown of 2020.

The mayor also touched on the controversial issue of annexation, which he says isn’t meant to be a tax grab.

“It’s the only means to the city of Grande Prairie to balance our tax base. Residents are consistently saying the city needs to get a control on it’s property taxes, one the best strategies that we have available to us is to ensure that we’re competitive in attracting that commercial and industrial development.”

In his speech, Given said ideally he would like to see annexation supported and effective by January first of next year.

Other highlights of the address include the promise of a busy year for road rehabilitation and sidewalk replacement.

Given also mentioned the paving of 124 Street from Highway 43 south to the city limits, and a design for the twinning of 92 Street from 104 to 116 Avenue.

The mayor also made sure to promote the number of activities on the way for this year in celebration of 100 years of Grande Prairie, like the Innovation Conference, naming 100 parks, and the Century Play.