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Given grateful for past planning as pandemic overtook 2020

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As the year 2020, and his final in-office winds to a close, Grande Priarie Mayor Bill Given says the year presented a healthy dose of challenges, but helped create an appreciation for those who laid the planning groundwork in years gone by.

Given says while there is no way to fully prepare for a pandemic of the magnitude currently facing the world, events as recently as 2008 gave an indication to how emergency preparation can make a world of difference.

“I will say the global financial crisis of 2008, at the time, we probably felt similar because we saw the change in the global financial markets and the impact it was having locally on the economy,” he says.

“It think that time we felt helpless and like things couldn’t get any worse, and then 2020 rolls around,” he adds.

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Given says pandemics of this scale happen roughly once every 100 years, but the attitude of ‘it’s not going to be this year’ doesn’t take away from programming, and contingencies.

“At the time, there was a little bit of ribbing and kidding about that, but I’m thankful there were public officials that were thinking about pandemics and had contingency plans in place so we can respond,”

He jokes that while it may seem like a different year altogether, the momentum he feels council had prior to the pandemic was shaping up to be rather positive.

“Going into 2020, council had approved an ambitious capital plan, we had approved 1.25 per cent property tax increase, and we were looking forward to the start of the construction season, and then we got into March…and the year just rolled from there.”

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