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Castlegar declines to send delegate to sister city Embetsu, Japan

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
February 27th, 2012

In a rare split vote, city council decided 4 to 2 against sending a delegation to Castlegar’s sister city, Embetsu, Japan.

Councillor Gord Turner, who serves as the chair for council’s Cultural and Civic Pride Committee, argued in favour of the expenditure at last Monday’s regular meeting, explaining that Embestu sent a large delegation to Castlegar to attend the grand opening of Castlegar’s new City Hall in 2008.

“It’s both an honour and an obligation we have to our sister city,” Turner said, adding Embetsu had committed to paying for all expenses a delegate would incur upon arrival in Japan (lodging, food, etc), thus making the cost to the city minimal. “The bottom line should not be about money.”

Councillor Deb McIntosh disagreed.

“The bottom line does come down to money,” she said. “When we do the budget, we quibble over $500 to host community events or to give to local organizations – it’s our responsibility to our residents and taxpayers. I think we owe it to our taxpayers to keep our money here.”

Councillor Sure Heaton-Sherstobitoff, vice-chair of the Cultural and Civic Pride Committee, countered by pointing out that the Castlegar/Embetsu twinning relationship is the longest-standing of its kind in Canada.

“We haven’t been holding up our part of the bargain in twinning,” she said.

Councillor Kevin Chernoff said, though, that $10,000 in relief funding after a tsunami hit Japan more than demonstrated Castlegar’s commitment in nurturing the relationship.

Turner pointed out that the last time an adult, outside youth delegations (one of which mayor Lawrence Chernoff accompanied), represented Castlegar in Embetsu was in 1989.

“I’m wondering if we should inform Embetsu that we’re not interested in being a sister city,” Turner said. “We have an obligation and we’re not following through.”

Ultimately, Turner and Heaton-Shertobitoff voted in favour of sending a delegation, while Russ Hearne, Kevin Chernoff, Dan Rye and Deb McIntosh voted against.

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