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Given apologizes for Eastlink Centre oversight

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A painful, disappointing, and embarrassing lesson.

That was how Mayor Bill Given referred to the discovery of a multi-million dollar deficit at the Eastlink Centre in his State of the City Address yesterday afternoon.

Given says since the deficit was discovered last fall, this was his first opportunity in front of a large public forum to apologize on behalf of city council.

“At the same time we take every opportunity to learn from our mistakes and we’re certainly doing that with the Eastlink Centre. There have been a number of actions that have come out of that experience already and I expect that there will be more coming in the future.”

The address also gave Given an chance to touch on concerns residents might have about how Grande Prairie will ride out the current economic downturn that has come as a result of low oil prices.

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He says the region is rich in resources other than just oil.

“While there certainly is oil development, natural gas probably plays an even more significant role in the economic activity of our region. Residents have to understand that investments in natural gas resources tend to be very long term investments that are very infrastructure intensive.”

Given closed his speech by touching on amalgamation, which was brought to the table by city council earlier this week.

Despite the concerns voiced by other municipalities in the region, Given says he still sees annexation and amalgamation as two separate issues.

“We expect that there will be a result on the annexation application early this summer and, regardless of the outcome, the area that is included is ultimately part of the area that would be a part of the amalgamation anyhow.”

Other key points of the address included events of the past year such as the city’s 100th anniversary and the introduction of the new snow removal program, along with capital plans for the coming year, like the downtown enhancement project and construction of the 116th street sewer trunk line.

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