Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Should we look for a new soul mate, or try to rekindle our last fling?

We’re a little out of practice and our appearance is a little worn over the last few years, but if we’re up to it, Prince Rupert may just get back into that relationship scene.

The City of Prince Rupert has decided that it’s probably a good idea to jump aboard the Province of British Columbia’s twin communities initiative.

It’s a plan designed to help enhance trade and build up relationships between BC cities and towns and those in some of the Asian nations.

As it is, Prince Rupert already has one steady date, as the Port of Prince Rupert started the twinning process last year, sharing tme with the Port of Ningbo, China after the Fairview Port was reborn as a container terminal.

And the City of Prince Rupert itself has a few embers still looking to be stirred, a twin city relationship forged with Owase, Japan, back in the Lester years which we haven’t heard much about of late. A park the only reminder of the early days of relationship building. However, like any relationship that has tailed off over time, the question might be has absence made the heart of Owase grow fonder for us.

City staff has been tasked with the job of relationship consultants/managers/matchmakers, they’ll research the issue and report back to Council as to whether it’s the case of an old flame burned out with Owase, damaged beyond repair. Or if we'll just want to make a new start, which means we’ll have to hit the twinning single clubs and on line sites, maybe do up a YouTube video, all in search of a new beau.

Of course considering our current financial shortcomings, we'll probably have to ask for a little help on any dinner and dancing tabs and travel, well getting together often might be a problem. We'll be looking for a little understanding in our relationships I guess.

The Daily News had all the drama of relationships past and future in Tuesday’s paper.

Council urged to give birth to new twin city
By Leanne Ritchie
The Daily News
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The city of Prince Rupert has agreed to participate in the province's Asia Pacific Twinning Relationship Initiative that will see communities in B.C. partner with city's in Asia in order to enhance and develop trade connections.

But council isn't entirely sure if they want a new twin or if they want to rebuild a relationship with the city's existing twin, Owase, Japan.

Doug Jay, the city's corporate administrator explained that the province, through the Ministry of Community Services, is making available a one-time grant of $50,000 to the city in order to develop a strategy for 2008-2009.

"The province is pledging support to assist in researching potential twinning cities and, if properly coordinated, could provide significant economic benefits to the city," said Doug Jay, the city's corporate administrator.

"As a port city, Prince Rupert is strategically positioned to become a focal point for commerce and trade between Asia and North America."

The city has had a twinning relationship with Owase, Japan, since 1962 and also has a relationship with Stephenville, Newfoundland.

Coun. Ken Cote said he would support the initiative, especially because there is no cost to the city.

However, Coun. Joy Thorkelson questioned whether a commitment by council would have the city facing the cost of airfare across the Pacific in the near future.

"We have all heard our mayor caution us before - what happens if we make a commitment and then all of a sudden we have to carry that commitment through," she said.

"We certainly can't budget $50,000 a year on our own for every year so how do we maintain the twinning relationship, if we can't maintain the twinning relationship because we can't afford to. Does that hurt us more than not having a twinning relationship?"

She described the city's current twinning relationships as "having them in name but not in game".

"I think we need to think about the political ramifications of stepping down on some poor city in China," she said. "Will their feelings be hurt by us not going over and doing the same things they get to do with us?"

However Gord Howie, chief administrative officer, said part of the grant money would allow the city to build those commitments into any relationship so there are clear expectations between all parties from the beginning.

In addition, new technology such as web conferencing could allow two cities a world apart to build a relationship without ever having to travel, he said.

Staff will report back on whether they suggest finding a new twin or if council should build ties with the existing twin.

The Port of Prince Rupert marked the beginning of a twinning relationship with the Port of Ningbo, China last September.

The agreement sees the two ports exchange economic and technical information, including information on development and construction, and they will promote the development of shipping opportunities between one another.

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