Mayor Jeff Genung called upon the crowd at the sold-out State of Cochrane address to become engaged in moving the community forward and seize the opportunities that exist.

"The change will not wait for some other person or some other time," said the mayor. "We are the ones. We are the changers."

On Feb. 10, Mayor Genung provided a sold-out crowd with his views on Cochrane, at times defended decisions made by his administration, and added some insight on some of the success stories.

Those victories included the efforts made to not only keep Garmin Canada's headquarters in Cochrane but to see an expansion press forward.

"Garmin was looking at all the options for their expansion plans, including moving out of Cochrane," he said. "Jim Rooney (Garmin's managing director) came to me over a year ago asking for help. He had heard us talking about tech, and now wanted to know if we were serious."

The mayor said the town continues to be on sound financial footing, well within its debt limit. It must continue to add to its reserves to complete identified infrastructure improvements.

"These reserve funds are not an endless pool of money. Council needs to set clear priorities and live within our means, and I am happy to report we are doing just that."

There's been the added challenge of high inflation, coupled with funding reductions to mid-sized cities like Cochrane from the provincial government.

He didn't back down from criticism of overly expanding the town's administrative staff in the last two budgets and specifically points to how adding an inter-governmental portfolio has assisted in advocacy efforts with the province.

"This has been a focus of mine since the day I was elected, putting Cochrane back on the map in the eyes of the provincial government by highlighting our extreme growth and showing how we are an important economic engine in Alberta."

That includes ongoing engagement and assistance from local MLA Peter Guthrie, now Energy minister, and ongoing discussions with transportation, municipal affairs, and seniors' ministers.

He defended his recent trip to Las Vegas for the tech convention. There, he met with local tech companies and continued to research the startup environment. He seemed offended and dwelled upon a recent Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FIOP) request for an accounting of his expenses.

He said the Vegas trip cost $4,479.77.

Genung was excited about the opportunities of the Southbow Landing development, expected to begin this year. Besides offering residential properties, it will provide convenient shopping options for residents on the south side of Cochrane. He said the timing is right for creating further commercial nodes outside of downtown.

Guests included Rocky View County Mayor Crystal Kissel, who spoke briefly, and Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown.

Before the address, a protest was staged outside of the RancheHouse that attracted upwards of 150 people. To the crowd inside, the mayor admitted it was a fearful walk to the building's doors.