Mayor Jeff Genung's State of the Town address last night heavily focused on managing growth in Alberta's fastest-growing town.

Expecting backlash afterward from some on social media, Mayor Genung made no excuse for the growth that some residents find distasteful. Instead, he spoke of how the town was attempting to strategically manage it and address issues. He placed emphasis on the opportunities growth provides.

He said it's difficult as a leader in the community to stand up and say we're growing, but believes we need to accept the fact that we are a popular destination for families. He said we need to address it head-on.

Speaking to an audience largely formed by business people, he said growth is good for a community, just like any business. He said the reality is that if you're not growing, your dying, and some Alberta municipalities are facing that very dilemma.

"Who here plans a zero plan budget of growth. Who has a business plan, raise your hand, that has zero growth built into it for next year? No one. I didn't think so."

He believes an inadequate infrastructure for the population density has caused much of the outcry.

"We're working on our infrastructure, plugging holes, we're putting those fixes in place so that people can move in our community freely, get to work, get home, get to the sportsfields, go to the movies, whatever it is they're doing. Once that starts to happen, I believe that density problem will start to drift away."

Genung is a long-time Cochrane resident and was a member of the graduating class of 1986 of the Cochrane High School. He said many of his classmates moved on because there were limited career opportunities.

"Since then, Cochrane has become a world-class community with all the opportunities and we have taken significant strides upon producing a community where people can work, live and play."

Fast forward to now, he is proud that his daughter has just graduated from university and has successfully applied for a job to pursue her chosen career right here in Cochrane.

He called it something almost unthinkable when he graduated.

Genung addressed several other topics. He gave a snapshot of the town from the pandemic to now, touching upon challenges, budgets, strategic planning, transportation, capital projects, intergovernmental relationships, and how the town will soon engage with residents to produce a 50-year plan to guide the town into the future.

The event was co-organized by the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce and it was their largest gathering since the pandemic. It was the chance for many to network face-to-face, something that is crucial, yet has been lacking for the last few years.

The address drew elected representatives from the area. MP Blake Richards, MLA Peter Guthrie, Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown, and Rocky View County Deputy Reeve Crystal Kissel were all present, and it's likely the first time they've all been together in the same room for some time

Chamber president Ozzie Sawicki spoke briefly, as did town CAO Mike Derricott.

Jeff and repsNothing brought home Mayor Genung's point on building intergovernmental relationships than the other elected officials in the room. From left, MLA Peter Guthrie, Mayor Jeff Genung, Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown and RVC Deputy Mayor Crystal Kissel. MP Blake Richards was in the room earlier but unavailable for this photograph. 
Chamber president Ozzie SawickiChamber president Ozzie Sawicki leads the applause for executive director Kelly Carson on his major role in the Cochrane chamber being named the best in the second-largest membership category in Alberta.