This fall, the mayor of Squamish is headed to Japan to rekindle a political relationship.
In 2003, Squamish and Shimizu were declared sister cities. At the time, then-Squamish mayor Ian Sutherland and two councillors travelled to the Shimizu to celebrate the community’s 40th anniversary.
But the relationship has been one-sided ever since. After the signing of the cooperative agreements, more than 118 students from Shimizu have visited Squamish, while only two Squamish students have crossed the Pacific Ocean to Shimizu.
Last August, Shimizu officials visited Squamish with an invitation. Shimizu deputy mayor Katsutada Ochiai said he would like to see more Squamish residents come to his community. Building on the communities’ relationship is an important way to bridge cultural gaps and increase awareness, he said through a translator.
“We are hoping to see more Squamish students,” he said.
On Nov. 3, Shimizu, which has a population of 32,410, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Again, Shimizu delegates are inviting Squamish officials to join the party.
“It is a terrific opportunity to further enhance our relationship,” Mayor Rob Kirkham said at a council meeting on Tuesday (May 7).
Shimizu officials offered to pay airfare and three days’ accommodation for Kirkham and a councillor to attend the event, stated a report to council. Staff noted $11,800 was placed in the draft 2013 budget to allow for officials to travel to Japan.
Council may want to consider inviting delegates from Shimizu to Squamish’s centennial celebrations next year, a staff report stated. Coun. Ted Prior added officials should consider reciprocate funding.
District officials are looking at further enhancing the town’s relationship as a part of the new general manager of business and community services’ portfolio.