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EDITORIAL – Slimming down Sister City exchange program is a good move

Armchair Mayor Mel Rothenburger (left), Uji Mayor Tadashi Yamamoto, and interpreter Jacob Rothenburger.

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

FOR CLOSE TO THREE DECADES, Kamloops has enjoyed a Sister City relationship with Uji, a city near Kyoto in Japan. Civic delegations have alternated biennial visits with each other.

Each delegation pays its own travel costs, with the destination city picking up the tab for accommodation and hosting. There are thousands of such Sister City agreements around the world, mostly based on cultural rather than business exchanges.

I’ve always been of the view that while they’d be more useful if they focused more on business, they’re very valuable in promoting international understanding, something we’re in dire need of these days. However, the cost has always been an irritant with taxpayers in both cities.

Uji taxpayers have become especially concerned in recent years, possibly because Uji also has sister cities in China and Sri Lanka. That makes the program much more expensive for them to maintain than it is for Kamloops, which has only the one sister city.

Uji council skipped a visit to Kamloops last year and won’t come again until 2020, the 30thanniversary of the relationship.

By mutual agreement, the number of exchanges between the two City councils is being cut to once per term or significant anniversaries like the 30th. Accordingly, this year’s Kamloops budget is being reduced by $25,000.

Other exchanges, such as student visits, cultural groups and sports teams, will continue — those ones do have an economic component because they’re largely self-sufficient.

That helps assure that the beneficial relationship between Kamloops and Uji will remain strong under the new arrangement, and will continue to contribute to the broad goal of fostering international harmony.

Good for the mayors and the councils of both cities for crafting a leaner look to the relationship while keeping it vibrant.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6477 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

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