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Mayor Bill Given looks back at the year that was, and what is to come in 2015

Mayor Bill Given says 2014 was a year of transition for the city, as the now year old council worked to get their feet under them.

It has been a learning process for council, one lesson in particular stemming from the Eastlink Centre deficit that was revealed in the fall.

Given says the discovery of the deficit was unfortunate and disappointing.

“Having said that, we certainly can learn a number of lessons from this. Council and administration are unified in their need to ensure that nothing like this can happen again in another city department, and we’re taking this opportunity to really look at the operations of the Eastlink Centre and see how we can refine it.”

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Heading into 2015, Given says he’s looking forward to the results of the operational review, which will help create the most financially sustainable facility possible.

“Early in 2015 we’ll probably see some of the major recommendations coming from the external consultants we’ve engaged. Absolutely that was a major event for 2014, and something that I don’t wish to experience again going forward.”

The highlight of 2014 for the mayor was the city’s extensive centennial celebrations, in particular, the Homecoming Weekend held in August.

“I have never seen the park as full as it was for the concert weekend, and it was amazing to see so many people, from so many backgrounds and age ranges just all there enjoying the sunshine on a perfect weekend, and coming together as a community.”

Another major 2014 event was the city and council’s annexation hearing held over two weeks in October.

Given says this year they should find out the Annexation Board’s recommendation on the city’s request to annex more than 6000 hectares of the county.

“We recognize that it’s not something that we’re in control of, we don’t know the timing of when the province will come forward with a recommendation. I’m sure that if annexation is approved for the entire area that the city put forward, that will likely mean a review of budget, but we’re ready to switch on a dime whenever we get the announcement from the province.”

And that’s not all there is for the city to look forward to in 2015, as there are a couple much needed infrastructure projects on the horizon.

“The twinning of 68 Avenue, that’ll see a new bridge added over the Bear Creek. We’ll be twinning all the way from the Shell on the east side, all the way out to the Community Knowledge Campus. Another project is the twinning of 92 Street on the east side of the city. That’s a long standing gap in our infrastructure that acts as a big bottleneck.”

Given says he is also anticipating that with another year of experience under it’s belt, council can start building and working towards the goals set out in their four year strategic plan.

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