Coquitlam is part of an international campaign to stop the torture and consumption of dogs and cats in its friendship city of Paju, South Korea.
An animal rights lobby group called koreandogs.org, which is based in San Jose, Cali., has called on activists to petition Coquitlam and about 200 other municipalities around the world with sister or friendship ties to South Korean cities.
And, to date, its Coquitlam push — which can be seen at change.org — has more than 13,000 signatures. It will formally submit its petition to Mayor Richard Stewart and city council once it has reached its target of 15,000.
Today (Friday), Mayor Stewart declined comment while city spokesperson Kathleen Vincent said the corporate side wouldn't address the matter.
But Coun. Chris Wilson said councillors took heat over the summer and received several form letters, signed with different activists' names from Europe and other countries.
"There's been no local response," Coun. Terry O'Neill added.
Currently, Coquitlam has sister city relationships — that is, a formal long-term partnership — with two municipalities: Laizhou, China, and San Juan in the Philippines. It also has friendship city ties — defined as being an informal partnership that's limited in scope — with Paju, South Korea, and Foshan, China.
According to a Coquitlam city staff report, Coquitlam's economic development activities with Paju started a decade ago as part of the province's Asia Pacific Twinning Initiative. Then, a Paju delegation visited Coquitlam and signed a letter of intent for establishing a sister city relationship.
The next year, as part of then-premier Gordon Campbell's Clean Technology Mission to Asia, a Coquitlam delegation visited Paju.
A Paju delegation, including its mayor, city staff and representatives from the Paju Chamber of Commerce and Industry, returned to Coquitlam in 2009 to formalize a friendship city deal.
The following year, a Coquitlam delegation that included School District 43 went back to Paju — as well as Laizhou — to look at trade and education opportunities. And in 2012, a Paju delegation was back on Coquitlam soil to explore more economic development.
"Of all the international relationships, the Coquitlam/Paju friendship city relationship is the most active," wrote David Munro, Coquitlam's manager of economic development, in January 2016.
Koreandogs.org founder Giny Woo stated on her website the sister/friendship city links that South Korea has around the world "cannot simply be all about taking the good and ignoring the bad or only sharing suitable cultural experiences."
Last Friday, Woo told The Tri-City News by email: "We have not received any responses from Coquitlam nor Paju regarding our campaign."
Still, Coun. Brent Asmundson said Coquitlam has had ties with Paju for years and "this is just out of the blue. It mystifies me. It's impractical for cities to dictate what goes on in other jurisdictions."